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Rocking with God in Rio’s Heavy Metal Church, Metanoia

Via video screenshot
Via video screenshot
And God Said…There Will be Headbanging!

The noticeboard hanging outside Metanoia Chapel gives a hint on how the religious edifice differs from its counterparts elsewhere. Other than the general updates on weddings, services and baptisms, there are also a number of terrifying advertisements featuring future events. Macabre headlines like “Blood Fest,” “Night of the Massacre” and “Into the Infernal” are usual and does not merit a more than once glance from regular churchgoers.

Rocking with God in Rio’s Heavy Metal Church, Metanoia[/tweetthis]

Part of Metanoia chapel's unique identity comes from its location. Its address is in the large favela complex of Mare in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janiero. The area is extremely difficult to police and the government had called in the military to put in a semblance of control. There is a possibility that visitors from outside may mistake the church signs as conflict between gangs and police. In reality, the signs are notices read by practicing Christians who flock to the consecrated building for a dose of rock with spirituality generously mixed in. The church is a new but quickly expanding evangelical movement, which, with its heavy metal music, is a new take on Brazilian Catholicism, favela violence and samba. It is the living proof of Brazil's unique culture of pick 'n' mix.

The Metanoia chapel is located in the second floor. The interiors are Gothic. An open coffin is the place from which the skeletal grim reaper peers. An old Bible is seen below a skull. The walls of the church are decorated with saw blades, spiders and bats. The altar is located between a sword and a tabernacle. On the altar lies a goat skull. A jeweled dagger has pierced it. Behind them is a large banner proclaiming that the Underground is ruled by Jesus Christ.

Enok Galvao, the founding pastor of the Metanoia chapel, said that they welcome God in their hearts by their unique way. He himself is tattooed. His congregation raise fists to heavens before declaring the Lord's praise. After the end of the sermon, the music and moshing began to throb the interiors of the church. Joab Farias, a member of the faithful, is a bank employee. He has a long beard. A black ear stud is easily noticeable and vocalizes death metal's characteristic guttural sounds, and regularly contributes to the church's musical offerings, ranging from soft evangelical rock and continuing to hard Christian death metal. Congregants come in metal music gear, similar to other secular concerts. 


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