Oh My God
By Alex Distefano
“School’s out for summer!”
So shouted Alice Cooper for his iconic 1972 rock anthem. And for music fans out here in the infernally hot Inland Empire, the summer season means two things things: sunburns and music festivals.
This year the IE is once again honored to host the 18th annual Vans Warped Tour, which features Taking Back Sunday, Yellowcard, Anti-Flag, Rise Against, Every Time I Die, Newfound Glory and The Used on the roster. Warped, the successful nationwide tour that initially was launched with a punk-oriented lineup, can now boast of offering an eclectic mix of rock, metal, reggae, ska, swing, hip-hop, electronic, dubstep, indie and even pop acts to its checkered shoes-wearing fans.
Add Christian death metal to the lineup.
Riverside’s heavy hitters Impending Doom will be performing its Jesus-fied take on extreme music alongside more Hot Topic-friendly acts like All Time Low and Mayday Parade. At first listen one might conclude that the Cannibal Corpse-like arrangements, blast beats and demonic caterwauling belong squarely in the same camp as, well, Satan.
You’d be wrong.
Impending Doom is very Satan-unfriendly. It is a death metal band that just so happens to be down with Christian beliefs, vocalist Brooke Reeves tells the Weekly.
But this ain’t no Stryper.
Impending Doom formed in 2005 in Riverside, and also features guitarist Cory Johnson, bassist David Sittig and drummer Brandon Trahan.
“I’m so honored to be on this year’s Warped Tour,” Reeves tells the Weekly. “We couldn’t be more stoked. We’ve been preparing for this tour for a while now.
“We know so many bands on this tour as well, such as Born of Osiris, Chelsea Grin, After the Burial and more,” he adds. “I’m excited about getting to seeing Rise Against, Taking Back Sunday, and overall it will be a good time hanging out with friends and meeting our fans.”
Reeves says that the IE’s local music scene is where Impending Doom made a name for itself and earned a solid fan base.
“The local shows are really where we got our recognition from,” he says. “I got nothing but love for our fans here in our hometown. Every time we play a [local] show . . . they come out and support us wholeheartedly. I’m stoked to be from where I am.”
To date, the band has also done several national tours and even a few overseas shows.
“We’ve toured with Stick to Your Guns, Winds of Plague, Bleeding Through, As Blood Runs Black and others,” Reeves says.
And any lineup changes that Impending Doom has dealt with over the years have yet to prove a problem.
“Whenever we lost a member we’re always blessed with another dude somehow,” he says. “But when it happens, it only makes us stronger.”
Just Dudes Playing Metal
So, how does the whole we’re-a-Christian-band-that-plays-death-metal thing work out with fans?
Though it’s rare, Reeves says the band’s experienced Christian people who aren’t necessarily positive about him and his band’s choice of genre.
Granted, Impending Doom’s Napalm Death-meets-the-Gospels musical hybrid might come off sounding, well, evil.
“We have had Christians judge us before, but nothing to a huge degree,” Reeves says. “But after talking to me for 10 minutes, most people realize where our hearts are and know that we’re not these evil people. A lot of times it will be parents who hate our music and question it if their kids are into it. I don’t really have people getting in my face. If anything, it’s mostly talking smack over the Internet.”
But the bands that Impending Doom has toured with are a different story. Tour mates often don’t share the band’s faith or worldview.
“Ninety-nine percent of the bands we tour with are not Christian; many are against it for shock value maybe,” Reeves says. “No band has personally given us crap while on tour though because at the end of the day we’re all just dudes playing metal.
“There is a mutual respect. Just because we’re a Christian band doesn’t mean we’re that different. Other bands believe other things, and most times they will realize we’re nice dudes. We always get along with everyone we tour with.”
Does Impending Doom party like rock stars?
Reeves says that while the band witnesses the decadent indulgences of life on the road, his band’s not really the raise-the-roof type.
“We keep it simple on the road,” he says. “We’re not into the partying-too-hard lifestyle like some of these other bands. I couldn’t even if I tried.”
What Impending Doom has tried is to remain true to the path of Jesus—life on the road leaves little time for worship.
“We don’t get to go to church too often on tour which sucks,” Reeves says. “I wish we could, but usually on Sundays we’re driving all day to another show. But we all read a lot, listen to podcasts . . . talk radio and Gospel music as well, which is cool.”
“Fake, Hypocritical Christians”
The band’s fourth studio album, Baptized in Filth—released this past March—is seeing some moderate success, and contains (surprise, surprise) some Christian ideas and themes.
“We wanted this new record to have a darker, more eerie sound,” Reeves says. “A lot of kids that listen to our music are impressionable. I wanted to dedicate this album to those people out there that hate God. This album is for them because somehow I hope they realize what they are saying, and how dangerous it is to hate God. I also wrote a lot about phony hypocritical Christians who walk the walk, but don’t talk the talk. I would much rather be surrounded by five real, true Christians than 100 fake, hypocritical Christians filled with greed and hatred.”
Reeves says his experiences as Impending Doom’s vocalist has given him a different perspective on things.
“People will always judge—not everyone—but you can’t change people’s minds. That’s fine,” he says. “But I think a lot of those so-called satanic bands for the most part are not as ‘evil’ as they portray themselves to be onstage. They are just dudes that love playing metal—and I do too—so I can’t judge someone for playing music. But there are always exceptions and some bands are anti-Christian. So, for any Christians out there, if you feel like you shouldn’t be listening to a band that might sound too evil or whatever then don’t listen to that band.”
All About Love For God
And if topics like End Times and Biblical prophecy aren’t your cup of communion, consider yourself put on notice.
“I’m not as much into those topics as I would like to be but I do study them and listen to radio and, of course, read the Bible,” Reeves reveals. “I believe we are living in End Times right now.”
Such apocalyptic motifs are where the band got its name, after all.
“Everything the Bible predicted about the End Times is happening right now,” Reeves explains. “That’s why I chose the name Impending Doom. I believe we are among End Times . . . We love people. Onstage you might not think it—it might not sound like it—but we really do, and we’re just here to let everyone know about Jesus Christ. What I don’t understand is people hating on God without having any idea of whom or what He is. I have found that it’s trendy now to hop on a God-hating trend. But as a band we’re the opposite. We’re all about Love for God.”
But for now, it’ll be all about love for Warped—which is slated to hit the Fairplex in Pomona on Friday.
Post-Warped, Reeves says, the band will take a two-week summer vacation, and then head out on another national tour followed by several shows in Australia.
“Also in the fall we will have a huge tour with some friends of ours, but I can’t announce [it] yet,” he says.
And Reeves promises a show like no other.
“We’re going to try to keep it really heavy, really aggressive and, of course, spirit-filled for this year’s tour,” he says. “We hope to catch some people off-guard because many people might not have heard of us, so I think that we’re going to get a whole new fanbase after this tour. We usually play smaller club gigs.”
Looking to hang with the Impending Doom boys after the band’s set? Reeves is easy to find as he will be front-and-center at the band’s merch table after every Warped show.
“I love meeting so many cool people on tour,” he says. “So if I’m not on stage, I will usually be at our merch booth. It’s going to be a great summer!”
Impending Doom and others at the 18th Annual Vans Warped Tour, Pomona Fairplex, 1101 W. McKinley Ave., Pomona; vanswarpedtour, www.facebook.com/impendingdoom. Friday, June 22. Doors open 11:30am. Tickets $35 plus fees.