Is it my fault? Was it something I said?
What we've lost is a band that deftly straddling the conflicting and often outright antagonistic worlds of grindcore and religion, not so much serving two masters as bending one to the needs of the other.
Sadly, the end had been prophesied. Guitarist Broc, who just released a new album with his main musical outfit Eternal Mystery, and drummer/vocalist Filipe, who’s juggling a doom project (Entorn), a black metal project (Sorrowstorm) and a death metal project (Encryptor), knew Rehumanize had run its course. In fact, the band was always meant to be short-lived experiment. As their epitaph, Rehumanize is giving away their final, 20-song EP Grindocalypse as a free download.
Felipe said he had always wanted to marry the confrontational style of grindcore with Christianity, emphasizing their faith where other Christian bands tend to downplay their religiosity for fear of alienating the less devout among their fanbase.
“Since a lot of the grind ethos rests on freedom of speech, often times to the point of absurdity, I want to experiment,” Felipe said. “It’s usual among the more popular bands on big labels to kinda downplay their faith, and in a sense I don’t blame them because otherwise they would alienate a ton of people. On the other hand, though, many times I actually have questioned the sincerity of their profession of faith, not so much because they are not bold for the Christian faith, but because they seem to not be living it out. The central message of Rehumanize is the Gospel of Jesus Christ preached boldly and systematically. I figured that it would go well with grind since that genre tends to be bold and ‘in your face’ and not as poetic and mystical.”
I sincerely hope Rehumanize find some way for them to roll away that grave stone and rise from the dead. This is the band that managed to override my closed-minded decision to hate Resident Apostasy before I even heard note one (berating myself for accidentally buying a Christian record) only to have my prejudices upended by a thoroughly pummeling assault on the senses, regardless of the possibly nonexistent cosmic entity receiving the band’s plaudits.
Whatever your affiliation come Armageddon, you have to respect Rehumanize’s chops. Though songs about ending pornography, the importance of prayer and theological debates will likely seem abstruse to outsiders (OK, maybe we understand better than we let on) and may not be an E-ticket to grindcore fame and glory, the band said the sinners came a-flockin’ to their rockin’ just the same. Perversely, it’s the faithful few who weren’t as supportive, Broc said.
“When it comes to what is central to Rehumanize, we wanted to just be really straight forward and clear about our views, and this has actually more so alienated the Christian audience than the secular one,” he said. “We have been on the receiving end of more crap from the Christian side than from the secular side, which hasn't really said anything negative from what I have been able to tell.”
But that may not be so unusual. What truly won me over to Rehumanize’s cause—aside from the whiplash-induced spinal injuries—was the band’s willingness to call their own to account. From personal experience, I know far too many Christians never venture beyond their holy huddle and group think begins to set in. If the world is evil and bound to fade away, then by definition what Christians do must be holy. However, Rehumanize were willing to ask what it really meant to follow in the Jesus’ sandals, and they were just as willing to hold up a mirror to those among them who had fallen short of the glory of God, regardless what they professed on Sunday.
Particular targets of lyricist Felipe’s ire were the prosperity gospel charlatans intent on turning a rather hippy-ish rabbi from Galilee into a combination of Santa Claus and Gordon Gekko. They seem to have missed the tale of the prophet’s sole recorded interaction with the financial establishment ending poorly.
“I’ve suffered for many years with these purveyors of the prosperity gospel. They have caused so much damage to the image of Christianity and to people’s lives,” Felipe said. “I had too much pent up disgust and grind was the best outlet. In actuality, what they teach and preach is very foreign to what the Bible teaches. This is not even a denominational squabble. The beliefs of these people can be easily separated from Christianity. What they do is they use the Bible and any authority they claim to have to get money and fame. Many of them don’t even see themselves as hucksters. They actually believe that what they are practicing is Christianity. It’s the environment that they have soaked up from earlier generations of hucksters, and the pattern goes on. It’s hard for me to go inside a Christian bookstore and not become red in the face. What we are trying to do is sway other Christians from believing their lies. We do not actually consider those preachers to be Christians at all, but true criminals.”
In a feel good era of Christianity as wish fulfillment and cut-rate therapy, that message did not always reach the most receptive ears, Broc said.
“The Christian community has been in kind of a mixed bag about it,” he said. “Some of them love it. Others hate it and speak out against it. The main reason a lot of them have spoken out against it is because they tend to be the kind who are followers of a lot of these TV prosperity preachers. Those kind tend to really hate people who even so much as criticize them even a tiny bit. However, the ones who do support us, are usually the more solid ones who are open and honest.”
That kind of honesty and integrity, to challenge your own, when everyone else around you will go along to get along, is rare and to be cherished. That Rehumanize let us peek in as they did it is remarkable. That they’ve closed that chapter and verse of their lives is all of our loss.