Getting Horror-bly Brutal with Seth Metoyer

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Some of our readers will be familiar with Seth Metoyer’s work through his extreme metal bands Mangled Carpenter (brutal death metal/grindcore), Pulpit Vomit (grindcore), or Brain Matter (industrial metal), but he has also been moonlighting in the film industry, creating scores for horror films for well over a decade. We recently caught up by email to discuss the prospects and perils of making scary music for scary movies as a not-so-scary believer.

LH: For those who don’t know, how long have you been making music?

SM: I’ve “officially” been making music for about 20 years. I started recording back in 2005 with the first Mangled Carpenter demo, called “First Offering”. I’ve been composing music for feature films since 2021.

LH: You’re known for your role in Christian metal bands. How did you get involved in making film music?

SM: I’ve been a movie producer and writer specializing in horror and thrillers for 15 years. Being a musician myself, and huge fan of movie scores, I began toying with the idea of making music for film. I started buying virtual instruments and upgrading my hardware and software, and slowly started writing music. I’m strongly influenced by the film scoring greats such as Bernard Herrmann, Krzysztof Komeda, Hans Zimmer, Jerry Goldsmith etc. I’ve been a classical music fanatic for over 30 years. Composers like Vivaldi, Bach, Purcell, and Mendelssohn are some of my all-time favorites.

LH: What’s the difference between a soundtrack and score? Where does your work fit?

SM: Soundtracks typically consist of pre-existing songs chosen to accompany the film, while scores are original compositions created specifically for the project. Depending on the film, a director might also license music I’ve already scored to use in a film. Sometimes that’s credited as “Music from the Motion Picture”. My work as a composer usually falls under the “music score” category. If a film has a lot of pre-existing songs, the studio might release the soundtrack with those songs (if there’s enough songs). Sometimes, if there’s a particular film score theme or two from the movie that the director wants added to the movie soundtrack, those might be included. So to answer your question, my work falls on both sides, but mostly on the musical score side.

Speaking of movie soundtracks, I have an extra tidbit to add. I’ve been able to get music tracks placed into films from Broken Curfew Records artists, and other Christian Metal artists. I got Graverobber’s “Skeletons” and my industrial metal band Brain Matter’s song “Internal Unrest” in a film called “Blood Harvest” (2023). (I also wrote and produced Blood Harvest). The horror comedy/creature feature CHUM (2024), includes the song “Deception” by Glae and “Social Disease” by Dispraised. Most recently, the song “Turkey Annihilation” by my grindcore band Pulpit Vomit is featured in a film called “It’s Fate”, which should release either later this year or sometime next year.

LH: Your score work has been focusing on horror/thriller films. What would you say to critics who think Christians shouldn’t be involved in that?

SM: As a Christian who scores musical compositions for horror movies and thrillers, I understand that some may question the compatibility of my faith with this genre. However, there are several reasons why I engage in this type of creative work:

– Exploration of Themes: Horror and thriller movies often explore themes of good versus evil, redemption, and the human condition (not unsimilar to the Bible). Through my compositions, I can underscore these themes and provoke thought and discussion about spiritual matters. As Christians, we are called to engage with culture and bring light into darkness (Matthew 5:14-16), and sometimes that means working within genres that challenge us to confront difficult subjects.

– Artistic Expression: God has gifted us with talents and abilities, including the capacity for creativity and artistic expression. Just as God is the ultimate Creator, we reflect His image when we use our creative gifts to produce meaningful and thought-provoking art, even within unconventional genres (Genesis 1:27).

– Impact: By creating music for horror and thriller films, I can contrast darkness with light, fear with hope. My compositions can serve as a counterpoint to the themes of despair and hopelessness often portrayed in these genres, ultimately pointing viewers towards the ultimate source of hope and redemption found in Christ (Romans 8:28).

– Engagement with Culture: As Christians, we are called to engage with the world around us, including, I believe, its various forms of media and entertainment. By participating in the creation of horror and thriller film scores, I am engaging with culture in a way that allows me to influence it positively, bringing a Christian perspective to an audience that may not otherwise encounter it (1 Corinthians 9:22).

Ultimately, my involvement in scoring music for horror movies and thrillers is not about endorsing darkness or glorifying evil, but rather about using my talents to engage with culture, explore meaningful themes, and ultimately point others towards the hope and redemption found in Christ.

I don’t necessarily recommend my horror/thriller films to those in the faith, though. I understand that they aren’t for everybody, and I’m not going to encourage people to do anything that might make them stumble in their walk with God.

LH: How do you see your faith informing or influencing your work?

SM: Since I was raised in the faith, I just see everything I do as an extension of who I am in Christ. I try to apply my existence as a believer to all things I do, as well as I can. My compositions are fueled by things in life that tend to be unsettling. Shadows that lurk in the world. My music doesn’t necessarily speak to the devout; but it resonates for those who wander in the darkness. In that darkness I find that people who are not of the faith tend to be open to hearing about my spiritual faith. It’s refreshing because most people don’t have an issue with me being a believer in Christ. They don’t have a problem with my faith, they have a problem with those who claim to be Christians but aren’t loving nor reflective of how Jesus treated others.

LH: What has been the response (either from the public or the film industry) to your work?

SM: The response has been very positive. I just finished a movie score for a feature horror film, and the directors and producers told me that the score “literally makes the film.” That’s encouraging!

LH: What are your goals for your label, Broken Curfew Records? Would you define it as a ‘Christian label’ or is that a categorical designation that you even find helpful?

SM: The goal for Broken Curfew Records is to release heavy, extreme, and experimental music to the world. I don’t define Broken Curfew as a ‘Christian label’. Currently most of our bands are ‘Christian’ or ‘faith-based’, but we also release a few bands that don’t identify as ‘Christian bands’. I’ve always disliked labels. I’ve never particularly liked the term “Christian” because I don’t think most Christians seem very “Christ like”, and I don’t feel they have properly represented the faith towards non-believers. So, I tend to avoid that label for the most part.

I believe that people tend get too caught up in labels and defining things for others. I’ve personally always felt that since I am a believer in Christ, everything I do is innately “Christian”. Because Christ is within me, and everything I do is stained by His blood.

I get that I’m not perfect and don’t always represent Christ properly, but, I am always “Working out my own Salvation with fear and trembling.” Philippians 2:12.

Well, IVM readers, in the very least you have some food for thought here. What do you think about Christians making music for horror films? Leave us a thought in the comments, but please keep it civil!

And in the meantime, check out Metoyer’s film scores and other works here:

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Joel Torres
Joel Torres
May 16, 2024 4:08 am

Awsome I enjoyed reading this!

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