Saturday, September 24, 2005

Music to My Ears LXXI

With the cool crispness of fall hanging cleanly in the air and the approach of Halloween, it's time to gather appropriately seasonal -- and spooky -- music to match the mood of slowing decay that accompanies autumn and heralds the sleep of winter. One musical genre that might easily get overlooked is that of Christian rock. But it shouldn't be, because its spiritual foundation rests firmly on the ultimate undead.

Enter the Deadlines, a one-time Oregon-based quintet that released "The Death & Life of..." on Tooth & Nail Records in 2000. Largely inspired by the horror punk of Glenn Danzig's bands the Misfits and Samhain, the garage rockers sport a sound less cartoony than Lookout Records' Groovie Ghoulies and a wonderfully atmospheric Farfisa organ played by a fellow called the Creature.

The music is pretty straightforward and in the vein of Scared of Chaka, but the lyrics are an interesting study of horror punk cliche and occasional religious allusions. The eighth song on "The Death & Life of...," "Vegecide," is the first song that really breaks out. And oddly, the goofy rant against veganism -- "I'm having a vegan nightmare. The world is turning green." (The Misfits' "Green Hell," perhaps?) -- offsets the concern with killing animals for food with the phrase, "Don't you know that Jesus died for you." The other Christian references are almost as awkward. "Zombies, zombies coming for you. Pray to God they don't kill you, too." Without reading the lyrics, a listener could easily miss the Christian undercurrents.

I suppose that's the point of Christian rock. Copy the basics of a genre or subgenre and incorporate just enough allusions that the case can be made by people who limit their record purchases to "inspirational music" that you fit the Christian bill. Not surprisingly, the Deadlines' 2001 followup, "Fashion over Function" shed their horrorpunk beginnings and aped the slightly more palatable glam rock. Just as the dead can rise -- and Christ can live -- again, Christian punk bands can shed their skins and adopt a new mantle to appeal to the masses. I hope their faith is more steadfast.

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