In August last year Adelaide 90's Christian punk rock band Seraphs Coal announced they were reuniting for one show. As bookings quickly sold out it soon morphed into an epic weekend of three sold out shows and an east coast tour.
The excitement and anticipation had been brewing for months and on the Australia Day long weekend the waiting was fulfilled in a weekend of punk rock mayhem at Enigma Bar in Adelaide like had not been experienced for many years. Almost two decades had passed since Seraphs Coal had officially disbanded and the popularity of these shows is testimony to how much of an impact this band had made in its heyday.
At the shows each night there were packed crowds of familiar faces every where I looked. Everyone from music scenesters to leaders and pastors of churches came to relive their youth for a night or two. For one weekend it felt like the 90's again.
Seraphs Coal took us all back to a time when punk rock, crazy moshpits, circle pits and crowd surfing were all the rage and one of the most important things in life. Indeed as someone who has been to many live music events over the years, I have rarely felt such energy, fervor and passion in one room like this since the early 2000's.
Seraphs Coal had the crowd jumping around and singing along to many fan favourites like Thirteen, One God, Ode to the Drunk and Human Error. There were many fun moments complete with crowd surfing on a body surfboard, footballs and a giant Scooby Doo doll that soon got torn apart leaving the floor covered in styrofoam balls that looked like snow! There was even an appearance by the infamous 'Balaklava' band of folklore.
Resurrected memories of young faith
In the days leading up to the Seraphs Coal shows I listened to their recordings again several times and was struck by the simple, joyful conviction of faith in the songs.
For many of us the weekend was special not only because it reminded us of a fun time in our lives when we were young but also because it took us back to a time when we discovered spiritual faith and meaning in our lives.
Seraphs Coal were one of many Christian bands that came about in Australia in the 1990s and 2000s. It was a special time when God was moving and doing some amazing things. Personally, it was a time in my life when I came to experience a real and transforming relationship with Christ.
Like many, music was a really important part of my life, especially in my teen years. I grew up listening to rock, grunge, punk and metal and one day in 1997 I discovered there were Christian bands that played music in the genres that I was into. In fact it turned out there was a thriving Christian music scene growing in my own city of Adelaide.
I started to become aware that God was reaching out to me through Christian metal and punk music. Although I had grown up in a Christian home this music made God's grace real to me like I had never experienced before and it changed my life.
The Christian music scene of the 1990's and 2000's was a significant moment in both Australia's music and religious history and it is time for it to be documented for the history books. This is starting to happen. Matt Baker from Lessie Does has written a book called 'An Australian Christian Band Story' and there is a Seraphs Coal documentary that is being made.
Hope and grace
It seems to me that God is speaking again in a fresh way and if there is any message that came through more than anything else through this weekend it is hope and grace.
As Sam Barnes from Seraphs Coal shared at the Saturday show, many years have passed since those bright days of youthful optimism and some may have grown weary feeling like life hasn't turned out like they had hoped it would 20 years down the track. Yet with Jesus there is always hope. There is always a second, third and tenth chance. Indeed the stories of redemption and hope through the grace of God have been coming forth.
There were moments over the Seraphs Coal weekend where I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit at work and people were worshiping God in the crowd. God has a time for everything and now is a time to remember what He did in the past and renew our hope for what He is going to do in the future.
Things have been quiet for a while but it is a new day and God is doing a new thing.
There is a fresh wave of His Spirit moving and it is my firm belief that God is far from finished with this story of faith inspired music in Australia. Holy Spirit is always dreaming of progress and something bigger and more wonderful and is getting ready to breathe creative inspiration into a new generation of artists.
I believe the biggest waves of Christian impact on music culture are still to come.
Conor is from Adelaide, South Australia. He has a history degree from Tabor College and has a gardening business. Conor has played in Christian heavy metal band Synnove. He is involved in Operation Canaan, a ministry that prays and intercedes for the music scene. He loves God, music, reading, traveling and thinking deeply about philosophy and current events in the world.
Conor Ryan’s previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/conor-ryan.html