Christian heavy-metal band performs at NIU

By Lynn Hammarstrom

Damascus, a group described as “long-haired, progressive Christian-art metal,” will perform this Sunday night in the Duke Ellington Ballroom.

The four-member band, which originally was formed in 1975 under the name “Haze,” hails from Mt. Prospect, Ill. In 1982 the group found its Christian direction and renamed themselves after the location of the first preaching of the apostle Paul.

Soon afterward Damascus began publishing a bi-monthly newsletter, “The Damascus Chronicle” and recorded its first studio release, “Damascus I.”

Throughout the following years the band played in halls, churches and school gymnasiums throughout the Midwest. In 1984 they recorded their second release, “Will I Find You There?” The group currently is working on its third release.

“We’re really excited about having the group come here,” said Rob McKeown, President of Student Activities for the Wesley Foundation, the Methodist Campus Ministry sponsoring the concert. “Damascus is a really talented band whose music means as much as their message.”

“Christian Rock is becoming quite a big thing in this country,” Wesley Foundation pastor Dave Schmidt said. “One Christian band, ‘Stryper’ has climbed up the popular music charts and even got a video on MTV,” he said.

“I think Damascus’ sound could be compared to heavy metal bands like Van Halen or Bon Jovi,” Schmidt said. “The difference being that where Bon Jovi may write about a sexual encounter, Damascus writes about their encounter with God,” he said.

“I think musicians tend to spread their message in the type of music they are accustomed to hearing. If that means soft rock, then they perform that sort of music. In this case, however, it is definitely metal,” Schmidt said. “Musically, I think Damascus could be compared to anything on the radio or MTV.”

The Wesley Foundation sponsors a number of activities throughout the school year, McKeown said. “Not only do we have services on Sunday mornings, but we also hold lectures, have study groups and sponsor speakers.”

Some of the events planned by the organization this semester include discussions on such topics as sexuality and pornography. “We have speakers come in often to talk on topics as diverse as how far a Christian can go on a date to being a volunteer in South Africa,” Schmidt said.

The Sunday concert will begin at 7:30 p.m. Admission, payable at the door, is $1.