Killswitch Engage, Edwards, and the Hell Inside Us All

disarmKillswitch Engage’s new album Disarm the Descent came out this last week. I don’t know how many times I’ve listened to it already, but I know I’ve got a few hundred more to go. Needless to say, it’s text-book shredding perfection. Adam D. is a metal machine; he couldn’t produce a weak metal album if he tried. Also, for those of you worried about the loss of frontman Howard Jones (who was amazing), Jesse Leach has returned to the helm stronger than ever both vocally and lyrically. He even manages to do a pretty good job filling in for Jones on the live version of “My Curse” included in the special edition.

Now, this is isn’t a full album review. In fact, I mostly just want to call attention to Leach’s forceful lyric-writing in the opening track, “The Hell in Me.”

Now, once I stopped air-shredding and paid attention to what he was saying, I realized he was speaking of the spiritual struggle at work in us all he sings:

Fall down into the chaos
Staring into the depths of pain darkness and suffering
I will not be from this place, inside of me
Until I understand this part of me that bleeds and captures my spirit
If it’s the death of me, then I will loosen its grip.

Protect me from the hell that burns inside me
No one can see this is the hell in me
Bring light into the darkness
Awaken and stir this war within us all
Reveal my true intentions

No one can see this is the hell in me
Lead me out of the darkness
Strengthen and protect the voice that makes no sound
Suffer and bleed for me
Pulled from the hell that is in me
Set me free
Will you set me free?

Leach picks up on the very biblical image of fire, torment, and hell to speak of the way a soul is consumed from within by sin. Sin burns the spirit. Indeed, this is ultimately the darkest truth of the doctrine of hell–we carry its seeds around within ourselves. Paul testifies that the wrath of God is seen, not so much in his active judgment, but in handing us over the the darkness of our own hearts as they lust after those things which dehumanize them. (Rom 1:18-15)

In depicting our spiritual struggle this way, Leach channels the spirit of Jonathan Edwards who brilliantly laid out this truth in his (in)famous sermon “Sinners in the Hand of an Angry God”:

There are in the souls of wicked men those hellish principles reigning, that would presently kindle and flame out into hell fire, if it were not for God’s restraints. There is laid in the very nature of carnal men, a foundation for the torments of hell. There are those corrupt principles, in reigning power in them, and in full possession of them, that are seeds of hell fire. These principles are active and powerful, exceeding violent in their nature, and if it were not for the restraining hand of God upon them, they would soon break out, they would flame out after the same manner as the same corruptions, the same enmity does in the hearts of damned souls, and would beget the same torments as they do in them. The souls of the wicked are in scripture compared to the troubled sea,Isa. 57:20. For the present, God restrains their wickedness by his mighty power, as he does the raging waves of the troubled sea, saying, “Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further;” but if God should withdraw that restraining power, it would soon carry all before it. Sin is the ruin and misery of the soul; it is destructive in its nature; and if God should leave it without restraint, there would need nothing else to make the soul perfectly miserable. The corruption of the heart of man is immoderate and boundless in its fury; and while wicked men live here, it is like fire pent up by God’s restraints, whereas if it were let loose, it would set on fire the course of nature; and as the heart is now a sink of sin, so if sin was not restrained, it would immediately turn the soul into fiery oven, or a furnace of fire and brimstone. -Jonathan Edwards, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, sec. 6

Songs like this remind me to thank God for his restraining hand. Even more, I thank God that he saw the hell in me and decided to “suffer and bleed for me”, to set me free, fully and finally from the torment of sin in Jesus Christ.

Soli Deo Gloria