Saturday, April 26, 2008

Shihads Holy War


Prey to your lonely gods,
There’s so many left to choose from,
They all can't be wrong,
You should take,
You should take a breath,
Because in the end your just the same as all the rest,
And your caught between the bible and the gun,
When everyone claims their god's the one,
What? The one Break what is in your way,
Nothing stands between us,
Or nothing will remain,
What you feel is only real if it's written in your heart,
The words designed to keep us apart.
[‘Bible and The Gun’ by Shihad off the album ‘Beautiful Machine’ 2008]

Shihad is an alternative rock metal band from New Zealand. They’ve been on the Australasian music scene for 20 years. One of the more versatile Kiwi acts they have been called ‘chameleons’ in respect to their musical experimentation.

One thing that hasn't changed for the last two decades, is the bands overt atheist/humanist leanings.

Take their 1999 song 'Sport and Religion':

Sport and religion
What a game
You can call it progress
but what's the aim?
You can't fake the fantastic
No more, no more
We can't keep on hacking away
when no one knows the score.

Bowing to Record Label pressure, Shihad were forced to change their name to Pacifier in early 2002, after the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Centre, made the post 9/11 environment in the U.S some what ‘tense’ for a band with a name bearing more than a passing resemblance to ‘jihad’. Rather ironically the band came up with name Shihad after having misheard the words ‘jihad’ (as ‘shihad’) whilst watching David Lynch’s film Dune.

The first single released under the name Pacifier was 'Comfort Me', which drew motivation from religions role in the global turmoil:

Back up, evolution here,
All the sick fucks,
Being born to kill,
They just need someone to tell them,
They're safe again,
They all need someone to tell them,
That somebody cares,
You're going to bring the world down,
The whole world down

After the dust of 9/11 had settled the band changed its name back to Shihad in 2004.

That year they released a double album ‘Love is the New Hate’ which contained the single ‘Empty Shell’.

All the fables that you know,
Light 'em up and watch 'em blow,
So forget what you been told,

Evolution calling,
Bury the truth and bury it well.

The dominating theme of Shihads, seventh and latest Album, ‘Beautiful Machine’ (2008) is religion.

Drummer, Paul Larkin states caustically “To boil it down, religion is just outright dumb”.

“The album doesn’t demonise religion, it just says it’s a bit silly really and the answers are more complex than one could imagine after reading something as trite as the bible”

A more consilatory Larkin “People have every right to think what they like, we’re just saying some people believe in Star Wars, some people believe in God”.

Frontman, Jon Toogood further backgrounds the bands inspiration for ‘Beautiful Machine’.

"My friends on the whole are atheists, but still relatively spiritual and very optimistic, and very positive about the fact we have 60 or 70 years on this dot and they're grateful that they're here. But I just find the whole switch back to the right-wing, Christian, hyper-religious scene very weird and it made me feel quite alone”.

"I've got no problem with people believing what they believe, I just don't like it encroaching on my life or decisions that affect me because of someone's beliefs”.

Toogood says he decided to write Beautiful Machine after being wowed by pictures sent back by Voyager 2, which made the world seem bigger than everything, including God.

"It's too big and beautiful to be written in a little book by a human, but it made life more precious," Toogood said. "We're on this tiny little dot and wow we get 70 years to revel in it!".

The album ‘Beautiful Machine’ looks to be a compulsory stocking filler for that secular humanist in your life.

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Anonymous said...

Wow - I'm aware of Shihad but had no idea their music had atheist/humanist themes - something not common on the radio atm! Definitely going to be checking out Beautiful Machine. Thanks =)

Protium said...

Wow... 20 years they've been going. A good hard Kiwi band... love it.