Heavy Metal Band Hails Rock Of Ages

Christian Group Makes Its Point -- Loudly

April 09, 1991|By Angela Gambill | Angela Gambill,Staff writer

The smoke-clouded stage rocked with the high shriek of metal and thecheers of fans in black leather and earrings.

But the group Rez (for Resurrection) wasn't turning any crosses upside down in satanic symbolism.

While the guitars screamed loud enough to satisfy the hardest metal fan at the Calvary Temple in Millersville Friday, the band's lyrics lauded "Our Great God in Heaven."

And while the audience wore jean jackets dripping with the jagged letters of the metal look, the slogans advertised living the good life with Jesus, things like "New Life" and "God Rules" and "He died for me."

Rock to the phenomenon of Christian heavy metal.

"God isn't some narrow-minded deity who expects people to wear tuxes and sing dirges," explained one fan, Steve Ford, 34, of Gaithersburg, sporting a T-shirt with a fish -- an early Christian symbol -- swimming against the flow. "He's open to all kinds of music."

Added Matthew Rock, 18, "This music is saying there is an ultimate goal in life."

When his friends hear his Christian metal music, "they listen to it and say it's cool," the Millersville teen-ager said.

About 25 Christian heavy metal groups conduct concert tours, although only a few, such as Believer and Sacrament, areplayed on secular rock stations, said Kevin Anderson, one of severalhundred young people waiting to get into the church.

The Severn resident looked like a basic metal fan -- black leather, cross earringand a wrist full of bracelets. But he didn't sound the same.

"(Rez) can rock just as hard as anyone else. But instead of music that says it's OK to have sex with anyone, this music says you should save yourself for your husband or wife.

"For years kids have heard one side of issues. Now there's music that offers another perspective."

"You're chasing shadows . . . because your hopes and dreams are lost. . . I've got a new dream," sang Rez.

Colored by red and purple lights and shrouded in puffs of smoke, the five-member band performedseveral songs from their latest LP, "Innocent Blood."

"It is a frontal attack on the spirit of this cold age toward the unborn, children of the poor and human values," said band spokesman Glenn Kaiser. "We live in a fallen world, but . . . there is hope in Him."

Rez was founded in the early '70s amid the Jesus Movement and logged thousands of miles touring in a school bus.

The band was as an outgrowthof a community called Jesus People USA. Now based in Chicago, JPUSA supports itself by community-run businesses and sponsors outreaches that include sheltering homeless women and children, helping AIDS patients and operating a Crisis Pregnancy Center. Says Kaiser:

"We need to look at (the world) straight in the face, but from a biblical perspective. We're all going to have to give an account for (the world's problems.)"

So the band's raspy vocals attack materialism and abortion and insist, "God reminds us to live our lives for a change, because there is blood on all our hands . . . innocent blood."

The Millersville church is trying to help teen-agers by sponsoring concerts of Christian groups, ranging from heavy metal to funk, said the Rev. Bryan Swartwood, an associate pastor.

"Heavy metal music has a heavy impact on kids -- going around listening to music talking aboutdeath and Satanism," said Swartwood.

"Here, you have groups talking about the love of God and

how you can make it in life and get through if you have someone real to depend on."

Said David Giles, 18, "I like the music of heavy metal, but not the words of most groups. A lot of people have backgrounds that listened to metal, and they don't want to change to hymns."

Nobody was reaching for a hymnal onstage Friday, as Rezroared, "80,000 underground/80,000 not a sound" to a reckless bass and burning riffs.

Idiena Restivo, 25, of Parkville, helped her two children stand on the pews and see.

"I gave upon (secular) heavy metal when I got saved," she said. "But I think Jesus is more than acting a certain way. You can glorify God any way you want to."

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