In the 1970s a new and revolutionary sound was emerging out of the Midlands. In the smoggy, industrialised Birmingham, bands like Black Sabbath and Judas Priest were creating music that reflected the environment and culture of the aptly named Black Country.

Taking inspiration from the bleak atmosphere and factory sounds around them and the tough drudge of daily life, these young, working-class musicians capitalised on the sound of rock n’ roll and began adding darker, more eerie melodies to their songs. Cranking up the volume, this new genre tingled the senses of a lifeless and monotonous demographic, providing an outlet to express dissatisfaction and rebel against the status quo. Out of the darkness, heavy metal was born.

Over the years to come, heavy metal and religion would have a turbulent relationship and, at times, would actively oppose one another. Not dissimilar to the origins of punk, heavy metal has been seen traditionally as an anti-establishment movement, whilst the church had previously banned certain satanic’ chords from being played due to the creepy dissonance the notes made.

In short, heavy metal was dubbed as the devil’s music’, and those on the fringes of society who already felt like black sheep’, disillusioned by religion, turned to this culture for a sense of belonging and to create and control their identity.


When I was five years old, I discovered the film Back to the Future and was captivated by the main character Marty McFly rocking out’ on his electric guitar. This sparked my passion for music and a love for anything wild, energetic and expressive. As a teenager, I felt like a black sheep’ in school. I wasn’t the best at sports, I wasn’t particularly academic, and I certainly wasn’t voted as prom king. I found solace in the sound and poetry of heavy metal, and the communities in these subcultures made me feel accepted. I eventually started singing in bands and started to play gigs. In 2010 I hit the big time’ and did a tour of India with a major record label deal on the horizon.

And then it all came crashing down. The band decided they no longer wanted me and my dreams of being a professional, full-time musician were over. Sitting on the floor of my bathroom, I vowed there and then that any future musical endeavours would be to make Jesus famous and not myself. Yearning after acceptance from other people had got me nowhere and left me unfulfilled.

For God’s glory

Fast forward to present day and out of the basement of Birmingham’s custard factory venue rings a new sound. Voices proclaiming Jesus’ name and prophesying His kingdom come echo throughout the multi-storey building for the hordes of passers-by and business owners to hear – except this worship isn’t on an acoustic guitar and it isn’t on an organ. Distorted amplifiers, screaming vocals, and banging drums usher in a new wave of praise. This is heavy metal worship. This is Revolution Reality Midlands.

A crowd of people covered in tattoos and piercings, mostly dressed in black, gather from around the Midlands to Birmingham’s Gallery Church, bringing their most zealous
and passionate praise. Revolution Reality Midlands (or Rev for short) provides a safe place for those who have been hurt by the church (“You can’t wear those clothes or listen to that music!”), and ensures that those who feel out of place in a mainstream church setting feel welcomed and free to be themselves with no strings attached.

With the aim of bridging the gap between the church and a culture that has previously rejected Jesus, my wife Sarah and I started Rev as a means of reaching back to the community who previously welcomed me with open arms. Whilst the fathers’ of heavy metal birthed their sound from the negative environment and identity to which they had affiliated themselves, Rev sees this sonically-charged music as a means of creating the most biblical praise possible, and many people within the Rev community feel that they are most expressive during their worship at Rev events than they are at their own regular Sunday service.

Psalm 98:6 says we should shout for joy before the Lord”, and Psalm 150:5 says praise Him with the clash of cymbals; praise Him with resounding cymbals”. If God’s word
encourages us to make a loud noise for the Lord, it could be argued that heavy metal is a perfect conduit for God’s people to worship Him to their fullest potential.

When Gideon’s army overcame their enemies by sounding their trumpets, smashing their jars and shouting loudly, despite the clothes they were wearing and the weapons they were holding, in that moment they were not identifying themselves as soldiers but first and foremost as worshippers of God Most High.

This is who we are as Rev Midlands. We may look scary, but we recognise that our identity is not found in the clothes we wear, the music we listen to, or in our tattoos or piercings. Our identity is found in our relationship with Jesus. We are the adopted children of God and we believe this deserves our loudest praise.

Like the 12 tribes of Israel, Rev is just another tribe. We look and sound different, but we are in a unique position to be able to reach a group of people that the mainstream church has historically found it difficult to connect with. It has been so encouraging to see people come to Rev for the first time, find healing, and then decide to attend regular Sunday church again.

One tribe

One of the most beautiful aspects of the church throughout the world is its diversity. There is no other establishment of faith that looks as colourful as the body of Christ. It
should be celebrated that God has reached every nation on this earth and not just one type of demographic has been welcomed into the family of God. Yet it is very easy
to get caught up in the pride of our own denomination or doctrine, thinking, Thank goodness I haven’t been deceived and don’t go to a church like that.”

Growing up in a Catholic household, I walked away from the church at 15 years of age. Three years later I walked through the doors of my local pentecostal church. My father was overjoyed that I was starting to walk my own journey of faith and begin a relationship with Jesus of my own accord. There may have been some difficult theological discussions along the way, but neither of us were so patriotic to our tribe that we condemned the other for our differing beliefs. I am grateful that my dad chose to celebrate the prodigal son returning home instead of being upset that I walked into the wrong room’ of the house. Our identities were not found in our theological beliefs but as sons of God.

My wife and I have been blessed to receive such amazing support from our home church which recognises the importance of being all things to all men (1 Corinthians 9) and has allowed us to use their space once a month to hold our events. A recent member of the Evangelical Alliance, Gallery Church’s tagline is Exhibit Him’, with its core attributes being love, joy, power, create, ensuring that we do, indeed, exhibit Jesus well with a standard of excellence. It would be fair to say that the DNA of Gallery Church is also within Rev.

The lyrical content of heavy metal, for the most part, tends to be negative, highlighting pain and angst. Rev strives to be an authentic and honest community, encouraging vulnerability and leaving space to acknowledge the pain of life’s challenges and struggles. But we don’t stop there: we use the sound of heavy metal and flip it on its head, declaring freedom, hope and light in the darkness as an answer to that suffering. We recognise that people can place their identity in empty things such as their image, the tribe of music they’re from or their careers. As the image bearers of Christ, we ensure that our community is always seen as a place where pain is acknowledged but victory declared.

We don’t shy away from letting people see the joy that we have found in Christ and letting people know that the reason we headbang, mosh, and sing and shout is
because of what Jesus has done in our lives. For more information about Revolution Reality Midlands, please visit revmid​lands​.co​.uk