Love and Death: Chemicals

Love and Death:  Chemicals

Written by Ellen Marie Hawkins

I was in high school when Korn blew up in the nineties.  I remember this guy in art class who sat next to me that would recite their lyrics over and over, trying to annoy the teacher. The teacher didn’t care.  I, however, did.  I was rebellious with my music, but Korn was a little too, well, out there for me.  There was all this anger, written in the lyrics, in this kid’s face, in the guttural growl he’d use when he wasn’t getting enough attention.  It was a darkness I didn’t understand.  I didn’t want to.

Flash forward more than a few years, and I find that Brian “Head” Welch is now a Christian.  I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t any incredulousness on my part.  I spent a few hours researching, and for the first hour at least, I still felt like the joke was on me.  It receded, and ultimately, disappeared, after numerous videos featuring a testimony that can’t be faked in its sincerity.  And once that realization is made, the power of his transformation is stunning.  The impact that Brian’s example can have blows my mind.

The EP Chemicals pretty much had the same effect.  I was still skeptical when I first listened.  By the time I wrapped up my research, I loved and embraced these songs, and I don’t think my appreciation will deteriorate with time.  Well produced, fantastically written, just all around really good, Chemicals is everything, and I mean everything, that Korn is not.  Thank God for that, really.

While the EP never mentions God by name, all the negativity and darkness that transcends over the secular rock world isn’t there, either.  It’s clean adrenaline, and it is addicting, so don’t say I didn’t warn you.  Brian’s vocals are impeccable, the guitars are a frenzy (that’s a good thing), and the energy is through the roof insane.  That said, “Paralyzed” could be about God (“I need you now”), “Chemicals” is obviously, what you don’t need (Brian seems to be sharing what he learned the hard way-“I guess I never contemplated all the time wasted”), and “Whip It” (feat. Matt Baird) is a remake of the 80’s hit by Devo.  This is a far cry from the original; the only similarities I could really isolate were the lyrics.  Remixes of “Chemicals” and “Paralyzed” are included and I would buy the album for them alone; they take the edge off of the originals without losing intensity, making them perfect fuel for my morning workouts.

I had a conversation once with a Christian who was also a musician, but he bristled at the idea of ever doing “Christian music.”  He told me that if he wanted to convert someone, the last thing he would do is music under such a restricting label.  I had raised my eyebrows at him, a little annoyed until he demanded “Would you ever listen to Muslim music?”  I saw his point, and I was a little embarrassed.  I was reminded of the conversation Jesus had with the Jews who didn’t think he should hang out with tax collectors and other “sinners.”  We’re told to not be of the world, but that doesn’t mean we isolate ourselves and refrain from going out into it.   I believe Love and Death has the potential to make an amazing impact in a culture that needs it desperately; my prayers are with them.  As for this Christian, I’ll listen along and be grateful to have positive rock music that I won’t feel guilty about enjoying immensely.

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Read our interview with J.R. Bareis of Love and Death