Christian metal has a long but shaky history. Those of us who were there back in the day remember “holy unblack metal” band Horde from Australia, which caused humongous amounts of controversy in the scene back in those days. Controversy aside, they also sounded pretty goddamn great. Lately, lines have blurred and things have changed in many ways. Reverorum ib Malacht – the Roman Catholic black metal project put together by a latin scholar and former member of Dödfödd is just one example of strange and amazing things happening in this area, with splendidly obscure and strange lo-fi black metal merging with theology and the deepest traditions of the Western Church.
Italy’s Enzo and the Glory Ensemble might perhaps incarnate, no pun intended, what is usually thought of as Christian metal. Playing a kind of symphonic progressive metal, deeply drenched in epic synthesizers and only the most celebratory chord progressions, the sole member Enzo Donnarumma gives praise in a mood similar to the most happy-go-lucky power metal tracks of Stratovarius. That is not to say that this is really power metal – for that, it is too leisurly in its pace – but the constant sense of upward motion, of joy and of triumph is indeed similar.
In the Name of the Son is Enzo’s second album, recorded with a number of collaborators. The previous one, the debut, was named In the name of the Father, and I dare you to guess what the title of the third album might be. Most tracks are named after bible verses, and as far as the message being on the nose, Enzo and the Glory Ensemble may be seen as the progressive christian metal version of the first Dark Funeral EP. Musically, this is actually a little more difficult to pin down. The basic structure alluded to above is omnipresent: joyous, heavy progressive metal tracks with huge piles of VST synth sounds layered upon each other and over heavy guitars and drum work. There are also choirs added, and vaguely middle eastern notes spicing things up from time to time. The vocals are high-pitched, but also rather diverse – at times being complemented by chants and various vocal experiments.
The production and mixing choices are epic, and often surprisingly “primitive”, in a way that we find pretty attractive. There are certainly less clear passages, instabilities and imperfections. Then again, any Christian album that wants to convey something more serious than televangelism or welfare state fueled feel-good social clubism obviously needs its sound to incorporate the imperfections and deviations that form part of this world we live in. If you’re feeling fit for faith today, or simply want to check out a strange and very individual take on symphonic, progressive metal, you may want to check out In the Name of the Son today. Pre-order here.