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date: 14 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter explores Christian extreme metal as a window on the way religion is expressed in contemporary Western culture, drawing on continental theorists of the post-secular. Christian extreme metal lyrics, sonic and structural musical features, and visual features are remarkably continuous with “secular” extreme metal, which positions itself in explicit opposition to Christianity and the “mainstream” world. But Christian extreme metal fans see Christian metal as qualitatively different from “secular” extreme metal. This apparent contradiction shows powerfully how religious symbols circulate in Western late modernity: religious symbols (e.g., biblical texts, stories, languages, and characters—and their symbolic inversions and opposites, drawn on in “secular” extreme metal) have been divested of their truth value and instead circulate as symbols, as meanings with experiential consequences. This allows for a surprising flow of symbols and meanings between secular and Christian extreme metal, and at the same time for qualitatively unique experiences.

Keywords: Christianity, Europe, Canada, evangelical, popular music, extreme metal, secular, post-secular, contingency, Ricoeur

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