Last year, when my family and friends gave me the idea to restart my music career, I half-heartedly purchased an electronic drum set, some stringed instruments, a microphone, and recording software to make home-demos with and see if I could play the way I used to many years ago. I was in an experimental phase, trying to see if I could write black metal again and maybe record it. I wrote 3 songs and contacted a recording studio here in Pittsburgh to see if I could get the new material to sound at least decent. I’m not from Pittsburgh. I’m not from the United States. I’m from Panama and often unfamiliar with the territory here in the U.S. I moved here to go to college in the late 90s and stayed here, eventually settling in the Steel City after I graduated from Seminary. The coronavirus pandemic allowed me to re-evaluate my life, especially after I was furloughed from my job at a school. I had quit music in 2010 for personal reasons and after I regrouped, I entered the studio to see where my experiment would take me. The songs came out sounding great, and now I needed a plan. Would I put them online, sell them, and call it a little return to my virtually dead music career? Or would I make an adventure out of this?
Sorrowstorm was created in the year 2000. I was originally experimenting to see if I could play black metal and place Christian-themed lyrics inside it. I knew this was risky (both the church and the world would reject me, but what’s new?), yet I did it anyway, as is the case with what my personality does on a regular basis. I was in college in Philadelphia, having moved there from the Republic of Panama. During the summer, I would travel back to Panama to play live shows with Sorrowstorm and pass out copies of my recorded material. I would sometimes wear face-paint, use gauntlets, black boots, and a bullet belt, and wave around my thick, dark, long hair in the air while playing drums and performing vocals on stage. This was a marvelous moment in my life when I had the time to dedicate to these types of things. I’ve been a metal musician since 1996, playing in thrash and death metal bands, mostly as a believer. I arrived at a saving knowledge of God through heavy metal in 1997, and went on a metal evangelism campaign with my bandmates in that country, marketing my music around the world and releasing music through my own little record label and with other labels as well. I play drums, guitars, bass, some keys, and several different styles of vocals. My parents made sure to nurture whatever gifts I seem to have, and were always supportive of my musical plans although they did not understand my favored genre, mostly the high and low-pitched vocals coupled with the dark and morbid imagery inherent in the more obscure sectors of the scene. More perplexing was the fact that the theme of my music was extracted from a biblical worldview, resulting in quite a remarkable paradox.
You see, I love metal, in particular, black metal. Yes, the dreaded dark and historically elitist genre that only scratched the surface of semi-mainstream popularity starting in the early 2000s. A recovering elitist myself, I virtually only listen to extreme metal, preferably the underground variety. I have prided myself on being this way ever since high school, although I am not nearly as stringent regarding this facet of my life. I suppose I was young, intense, and energetic. But first and foremost, I love God. I am a bible believer. I have participated in evangelism and been vocal about my faith among other topics (Christian metal being one of them). Sorrowstorm is a vehicle to express my Christian beliefs and hopefully bless others who are seeking an alternative to this normally blasphemous, dark, and sinister form of music. I want nothing more than for the worldwide Christian metal scene to be Gospel and Theology centered, and for the whole of the metal scene to bow the knee to Christ in repentance and faith. So, while my 3 little songs were being mastered, I contacted Duane Keith of Vision of God Records. They regularly advertise on my feed, so before he knew about me, I had proposed that I would be signed to that label. This desire materialized in late February of 2021. Immediately, dozens of people began to contact me with encouraging messages, many of whom I had lost contact with years before. In late March of this year, Sorrowstorm’s latest EP was released on VOGR, and the song entitled “Epoch of Exile” was marketed to the public along with really cool merchandise. My friend Nat had done an excellent job re-designing my logo and coming up with artwork for the CD. The concept of the EP concerns the Babylonian exile (589 BC), the reality of life in a foreign land belonging to one’s oppressors, and God’s faithful promise to restore His people to their original state, both physically and spiritually. It also describes our occasional feeling of spiritual dryness and how God pursues us and sanctifies us in the faith.
What is the future of Sorrowstorm? Lord willing, filled with fun activities. I plan to begin recording an album later this year, and have written a couple of songs. VOGR plan on re-releasing my old material, as everything pressed years ago is out of print. I am happy to be back in the scene and ready to Rock N’ Roll – or rather – Black N’ Roll. So put on that Armor of God, keep the faith daily, resist the devil so that he will flee from you, and search the Scriptures for that absolute truth that we all need daily. Go to www.visionofgodrecords.com to support Sorrowstorm and other bands, and more importantly, our work in the Gospel. Peace to you!
-Felipe Diez III