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November 2014
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Music critic Ben Ratliff appreciated the metal band Salome in a recent New York Times feature that seemed written especially for Rock and Theology readers. His profile focused on how the lead singer, Kat, experiences the music as a meditative descent into and ascent from emotion, in a way that makes one “closer to God.” Specific mention is made of her singing and her lyrics as ways of performing this religious ritual of sorts, which Kat associates with yoga and with Buddhist dissolution of ego. It seems that metal and religious practice make a way of life for her: Kat “teaches yoga and takes physical therapy courses at a community college. She doesn’t drink or smoke. She doesn’t sing more than six songs in a row — about an hour, max. She says she thinks of her singing as part of her spiritual practice, though she is reluctant to talk about it.”

If we think of theology as CHECK THIS OUT:

(After you have recovered from that, continue reading:)

Ratliff’s article and Kat’s theology are terrific examples of the complex ways that religiousness, or theological material, shows up in rock culture, without falling into simplistic binaries of religious or nonreligious rock. In Ratliff’s fine phrasing, “The best metal of any kind feels like it comes from below and wants to pull you down there.”

Tom Beaudoin

Atlanta, Georgia

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While reading New York Times music critic Ben Ratliff’s review of a NYC concert featuring the bands Salome and Landmine Marathon, my thoughts went back to the rock bestiary I’ve slowly adumbrated here at R&T. My initial description of a rock bestiary is here, and there have been many entries since then.

Ratliff served up a splendid meditation fit for a bestiary entry. Describing Salome’s lead singer Kat, Ratliff writes: “Early in the band’s second song — “Master Failure” — Kat brought the microphone to her face with both hands, enveloped two small fists around it and began a deep, dreadful growl, altering the tone with the shape of her mouth, something like yawwheeawhhhheee. She might have been singing words; maybe not. Hard to tell. It was more an earth sound than a body sound; the imagined howl of undersea canyons.”

A rock bestiary, should one ever exist, would be focused on the specific and eventful ways that Holy Mother of God! Take a listen!

A rock bestiary, should one ever exist, would be focused on the specific and eventful ways that rock culturers — musicians, fans, roadies, and more — yield up bodily wherewithals that are the potential fruit of, and power for, more life. Or should I say, with reference to Kat’s “earth sound,” that rock musicians generate ever new ways of conducting into, or at least gesturing toward, a way of being that theology should be able to appreciate, a way of being that I would call (following Gilles Deleuze) “faith in this world.”

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