O Sleeper On The Epic Battle Between Good and Evil

maureen

My son told me that O Sleeper’s Vices like Vipers reminds him of my Sinema7 book, so I took a look at the band. I’m not really in the hardcore/metalcore demographic and I definitely had to read the lyrics because I’m not used to screamed lyrics. Honestly, the depth of emotion and gut wrenching delivery reminded me a lot of opera. It has an epic feel. Much of their music is about the battle between God and Satan or good and evil. I found myself reflecting on the epic nature of Christianity.

O Sleeper’s most recent album is based on the culminating battle between God and Satan described in the Book of Revelation. In the title song, Son of the Morning, Satan spews out his hatred for God and contempt for Christ, calling him the “weak forgiver” and telling God “you’re wasting power on grace.” God replies “If you could see like me you’d see you haven’t won anything.” There is a back and forth between screamed and clean lyrics, cacophony and melody that represent the conversation between Satan and God. Throughout the album Satan declares his intention to thwart the work of Christ, to assault those God loves and to amass power by turning them away from God. God’s power and defeat of Satan culminates in The Finisher with God’s graphic promise to Satan that he will “cut off your horns.”

The songs between these bookends describe Satan’s attempts to win the hearts and souls of men and man’s battle with temptation. In the third song, In All Honesty, Satan crows “I’m forever stalking the streets for the next one. I’ve found I can run faster than guilt…” The anguished cry of a man in Satan’s grip “I wish I could be so much more than me” and God’s response, “you could be the one who pleases me…because I can reach through anything.” The intensity of the music matches the intensity of the ideas expressed. It’s sort of hard to imagine “Bring out your dead” in Commissioned by Kings sung to Contemporary Christian instrumentation and American Idol-ish vocal stylings.

O Sleeper is considered hardcore or metal, a genre which usually offers more aggressive music and lyrics. The demographic for this sort of music is mostly male. Perhaps men are more connected to the idea of battle and more attuned to physical aggression. I think hardcore, and metal music in general, assaults the bloodless, tidy, elevator-music existence offered to the Western World in the 21st Century. John Eldredge addresses this idea in his book Wild at Heart, proposing that men are created to seek risk and adventure because God himself is a risk-taker and adventurer. He believes that “masculinity, with its predilection to adventure, rowdiness, and risk has become a condition to be cured” rather than traits to be developed and channeled.

This theme appears in the movie Fight Club. Tyler Durden claims that men in society have become “an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables; slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need. We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression… our Great War’s a spiritual war… our Great Depression is our lives… Fight Clubs form because physical violence makes these men feel more alive and connected. It’s a poor substitute for an epic life, but a vivid commentary of how shallow and frustrating our culture can be for those who seek meaning and purpose.

In Fight Club the Narrator describes his life, “Everywhere I travel, tiny life. Single-serving sugar, single-serving cream, single pat of butter. The microwave Cordon Bleu hobby kit, shampoo-conditioner combos, sample-packaged mouthwash, tiny bars of soap. The people I meet on each flight? They’re single-serving friends.” Commentary on this sort of shallow lifestyle is echoed in the recent movie Up In the Air about a man who actually embraces his life as a specialist in corporate downsizing. He spends his life on airplanes and in hotel rooms. Each of us must choose whether or not the lives we are living and the stories we are telling with our lives are enough. Donald Miller’s takes up this idea in his latest book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, in which he invites us to live a better story.

Life really is more epic than cars and clothes. Perhaps somewhere in our mundane errands and small talk is a hero dying to get out. In Lord of the Rings Sam wonders “What sort of tale we’ve fallen into?” Knowing their mission is critical to the triumph of good over evil in Middle Earth Sam says, “It’s like the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger.” Sam ends his reflection saying “Some things are worth fighting for.” We can choose to live in the shallows or to engage in the epic battle to which we are called.

In 2 Cor. 10 Paul reminds us that we often only “look on the surface of things.” He explains that “the weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary they have divine power to demolish strongholds.” Following Christ isn’t playing church, it is an epic journey. Oh Sleeper’s The New Breed screams “our generation’s pride sits, a conformist ploy to strip what burns inside… we can’t sit quietly because there is more to life than we see… please teach me to live life fearlessly and I’ll make a stand here… where I can be more than mortal and fight for a kingdom that answers to no one… anchored by glory we rise in mutiny… We are the new breed.” Consumerism, fear, sloth, pride can strip our stories of intensity and depth, or we can rise to the epic story we’ve been called to live.

Ephesians 6:11-13 confirms the power and importance of this confrontation. I like the King Jimmy on this one because the language is epic: “Put on the whole armor of God that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rules of the darkness in this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God that ye may be able to withstand the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” In their genre and certainly in their lyrics O Sleeper reflects this epic sensibility well.


One Response to “O Sleeper On The Epic Battle Between Good and Evil”

  • Chad Says:

    Love this bands lyrics, and how epic their lyrics are… In their song “the fire dawn” a human is speaking about spiritual warfare and he says “So send me all of hell and I’ll face them, I’ll face them one on one thousand.”

    I dig.