The Devil? Ten.
Lift your game, Lucifer.
Deathcore outfit Impending Doom want to use that almighty force of God to scare the hell out of you— almost quite literally. Their new record Baptized In Filth came out little more than four months ago, which according to bassist David Settig is “definitely our most progressive and heaviest record,” as well as their best-selling, adding: “We’re ready to go over to Australia and play it for everybody.”
Even though it’s meant to scare the hell out of us?
David waves me down to correct me. “That’s just our little saying. It’s a lyric—‘I hope I scare the hell out of you,’ which is more to do with scaring the evil out of you. It’s more like I hope this album scares you straight.”
Therein lays Impending Doom’s secondary ‘mission’: They are most definitely a Christian metal band in both lyric and practise, even since their formation a little over eight years ago. Their music is visceral and confronting expression of their faith. Like any good religion, the Impending Doom boys have invented neologisms to describe their music—“Gorship,” the fusion of gory, fierce themes and Christian worship. The band also created a new emblem, the “Repentagram,” which David says is the band’s “way of making a Christian pentagram symbol, if you know what I mean,” and telling people that kind of stuff doesn’t “offend us.” Finding like-minded metalheads and hardcore fans in which Christians are actually the minority to play in a band such as Impending Doom wasn’t as much as a challenge as most would think.
“It wasn’t that difficult to put the band together. But once we started getting a little more popular, getting gig offers and tour offers, some of the guys didn’t want to tour and others wanted to finish their college degrees and become a doctor—you know … things like that. It was much harder to find people to replace others who’d dropped out once the band was established. I mean, if there’s someone who is Christian, can tour almost every day out of the year if need be, is good at their instrument and who can help the writing process and someone we could get along with; it’s a lot harder when you’re a band like that rather than one just starting out.”
Whereas the traditional metal fodder is every religion but, the band and others that share their faith cop intense vitriol on the internet—Black Label Society front man Zakk Wylde proclaimed himself a valiant ‘Soldier of Christ’ earlier this year and was roundly criticised by fans and detractors alike. Though for the band, they aren’t so concerned about these sorts of cyber character assassinations.
“We’ve never experienced any hostility—not for us, at least,” David says. “We mainly do non-Christian tours. We’ve only done a couple of tours in which they were Christian tours. All the people that come out know what the bands are about and have respect for that. We’ve never been on tour where people would come and talk down to us because of our beliefs. We wouldn’t do that to anybody whether you believe in God or not or whether you worship … the Devil,” he says, overcoming a thickness in his throat. “We love everybody whether they’re Christian or not. They get that vibe from us. There’s never anybody that gives us crap for it. But people who look at us don’t even think we’re Christian because heavy music can’t be Christian. You know what I mean? Sometimes there’s super, super religious groups that hate on us. Atheists, agnostic, whatever—those are the people who are most accepting.”
Is heavy metal incompatible, fundamentally with the Christian faith?
“In the eyes of those extreme groups, yes, they think that for sure. Those kinds of people think that hymns and other church songs have to be types of worship. Those are the kinds of narrow-minded people that don’t understand and give us flak for that.”
The band is set to make their first arrival in Australia soon for a real national tour that takes in not only the major capital cities on each coast but other venues off the beaten path, such as Ballarat and the Gold Coast.
“We’re super excited,” David says, hardly restraining his glee. “It’s true that most tours aren’t that long there but we’re coming down for the first time and we want to see everything everywhere. There’s a few club shows and a festival so there’s a lot of variation too. We have a couple of days off to relax … but we want to see everyone who comes out to the shows and see the country for the first time. I mean we’d have fun whether we’re playing for one-hundred kids or playing in front of people who had never heard of us before. We’ll feel grateful no matter where we play or what the outcome is.”
Australia has its own distinct scene for deathcore, quite separate to that of heavy metal, though punk rockers, metalheads and hardcore fans will set aside their dispersions for one or two days out of the year when the major festivals are on. But what’s it like Stateside and in Europe?
"There is a difference for sure,” David says. “In terms of the vibe of the show, it’s different. But it’s also different in different parts of the US, as well.” He clears his throat and withdraws ever so coyly. “I’m not going to say any particular place that’s bad, or anything, but there are places where the kids are not looking out for one another or there’s always fights going on when we come through or something like that.“
But as for the wild and loathsome parts unknown, why do kids turn on one another in the moshpit when guitars are screeching and drums are pounding? High unemployment? Home trouble? Misdirected rage? Brian mulls it over.
“I think it could be … half of those situations might be from that. It’s not really easy to tell. But even so, it’s never worth hurting somebody else. I mean security might even shut down the entire show because of one guy who was pissed off. I enjoy the show when people are raging and pushing into each other but when someone gets knocked down and someone else picks them back up. I like it when people have fun, not mosh so they can hurt each other. We’re all a family—the fans and the band. We all just want to have a good time. There’s a lot of that good time stuff in Europe; more so in Mexico too. They love their music down there; they have this passion to jump up and down and have fun.”