Music vs Religion

It’s a shame that we still live in a world where art and expression can still be oppressed and banned. The most recent example came to light last week with the news that Malaysian officials have banned Lamb of God from performing their Kuala Lumpur show on September 28th, to which they had already sold over 1500 tickets for.

Initially the Department of Islamic Development of Malaysia (a predominately Muslim country) expressed objection towards Lamb of God performing in Malaysia, citing the ‘Killadelphia’ live performance as the main issue. ‘Killadelphia’ is a live DVD and CD released by Lamb of God in 2005 between the ‘Ashes of the Wake’ and ‘Sacrament’ albums, in which the introduction features verses from the Qur’an. The combination of metal music and Qur’an verses was deemed blasphemous and contrary to the true teachings of the religious text. The final decision to cancel Lamb of God’s planned performance came from the Communications and Multimedia Ministry who denied the band a permit to perform.

Lamb of God have released an official response to the decision on their website (link at the bottom), calling the accusations slander “based on assumptions and shallow misinterpretation”. The band have also urged that “anyone offended by [their] music to engage in discussion regarding the true motivations behind [their] work,” as the officials have “only made a passing glance at the content and meaning [of songs].”

Former Mufti of Perlis (an Islamic scholar for the region of Perlis) Dr. Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin also spoke out in favour of Lamb of God, stating that there needs to be evidence and proof against allegations that a band is “truly objectionable and will negatively impact our society and culture.” This response came from another official’s scathing remarks that the band would cause “untold harm and moral decadence.”

In 2006 the Pussycat Dolls faced a similar reaction and were fined for overstepping decency laws. There is also a reputation for banning and censoring songs with religious references, including Ke$ha’s ‘We R Who We R’ and Lady Gaga’s ‘Alejandro’. Most songs that feature any reference to sex (including simply the word sex in a Bruno Mars song), especially when relating to homosexuality are heavily censored. This is most notable in Lady Gaga’s ‘Born this way’, where the lyric “no matter gay, straight or bi, lesbian, transgendered life” is completely removed and simply replaced with a repeated phrase of “no matter”.

Music and art forms in general continue to face similar prejudices all over the world. Perhaps the most famous metal music example is the Columbine school shooting tragedy in which Marilyn Manson’s music was framed. More recently both Slipknot and My Chemical Romance have faced similar accusations and members of Russian punk band Pussy Riot have been controversially given sentences for hooliganism, sparking a wide public reaction, which includes the human rights group Amnesty International adopting the case. Whilst  censorship can sometimes be required, especially in regards to a younger audience, offence to music should only ever be decided by oneself, and never by government officials.

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Recommended Lamb of God:

  • ‘Ghost Walking’ from ‘Resolution’
  • ‘King Me’ from ‘Resolution’
  • ‘In Your Words’ from ‘Wrath’
  • ‘Redneck’ from ‘Sacrament’
  • ‘Omerta’ from ‘Ashes of the Wake’

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