THE DEAL--How I went about putting this
Metal... is a HUGE and very diverse term.
When I was teen-ager in the 80s, it all seemed much simpler. There
was pop, rock, hard-rock,
heavy metal and thrash (or speed-metal).
Sure there were lots of other genres out there too. But in the world
of "rock" those were the
ones. Today--I must confess, I can't keep up with all of it! I mean,
there's white metal (which I think is positive/Christian), black metal, progressive metal, melodic metal, hair metal,
industrial metal, goth metal, death metal... and I guess the terms "classic
metal" ... "heavy metal" ... "speed metal" and "thrash metal" are still out there...
And I'm sure I left a few out!
So, what I'm going to do with this "History of Christian
Metal" is go back to what I consider to be the begininngs of metal and bring it up through the decade of the 1980s. You can take it
from there. If you have something you think needs to be added, email me!!!!
IN THE BEGINNING...
It's kind of impossible to pinpoint
a precise "beginning point" for Christian metal. I mean it's obvious
that Christian metal was an off-shoot
of secular metal... which was an off-shoot of secular pop and rock... which
were off-shoots of blues and country... which were off-shoots
of... see... it gets kind of Cray after a
while! So, we'll start it this way...
The 70s were an era of incredible
musical discovery. Rock music, birthed in the 50s by fusing rhythm
and blues with country music (by folks like Chuck Berry, Elvis, and lots of
other folks), was evolving and attracting fans everywhere! Some of the forerunners
to metal in the early days of the 70s were "acid rock"... "hard
rock"... and "progressive rock". It was an exciting time, where musicians
were constantly experimenting and pioneering new musical forms.
It was also during this era that the foundations of CHRISTIAN METAL (granted in
a very 70ish form) were laid.
It all began in 1972.
In... of all places... MY HOME STATE! Yep, Bob Hartman, Greg
Hough, John DeGroff and Bill Glover, of Ft. Wayne, IN. felt God calling
them to a very unique ministry. Their vision - to create a "Christian
Rock Band" and reach the world with this radical new style of music! And
so, with the birth of Petra, the first steps toward what we call CHRISTIAN METAL
Other contributors to the rise of Christian rock/metal
in those early days would include-- Larry Norman and Phil Keggy.
very important to recognize the contributions
made by some ground breaking secular hard rock/metal bands/artists of the late
1960s and early 1970s.
course, others that you may be able to think of...
Each of them made
their own unique contributions to the evolution of "metal music."
THE NEXT BIG STEPS...
In 1978 RESURRECTION BAND aslo called
"REZ BAND", released their debut album, AWAITING YOUR REPLY. Heavily
influenced by the music of
Led Zeppelin, Resurrection Band burst onto the scene with
a killer brand of blues-based hard rock and a bold message of God's love!
Awaiting Your Reply broke new ground... attracted many more fans to "Christian Rock" and thus paved
the way for many more christian hard rock/metal bands to come.
band that sprang up around this time was JERUSALEM. This Swedish Christian
Rock Band also released their debute album, "Volume 1", in 1978.
Their vision was very similar to Petra and Rez Bands'... to spread the news
of God's love through hard rock music.
who made major contributions to the evolution of metal... and subsiquently Christian
Metal--from the mid 1970s to the end of the decade include:
AC/DC, Led Zeplin, Black Sabbath and Judas Priest continued to grow and shape
metal--and in addition bands/artists like...
made their unique contributions.
THEN CAME "THE GOLDEN AGE" OF METAL...
There's just way too much awesome
info from this decade to cram into this brief history... So, I'm simply going
to share the highlight
JERUSALEM - Warrior
One of Jerusalem's heaviest and most successful
albums was released.
STRYPER formed this year changing their name from Roxx Regime to Stryper.
Along with the name change, they also began to wite lyrics that pointed
straight to Jesus Christ!
Stryper's groundbreaking "Yellow and Black Attack" is realeased.
This album brought Christian Metal up from the underground and put it on the
map for all the world to see. People were amazed that there was a christian band
throwing out Bibles to the audience while at the same time playing KILLER metal
music. Stryper showed the world that it is possible to combine Jesus and
Metal and opened the way for all the christian metal bands to come.
1984 also marks the birth of the
term Christian Heavy Metal. Many Christian Metal bands were coming up from the underground and there was
a need for a term for this new movement and as a result the term Christian Heavy Metal was born.
SAINT - Warriors of the Son
the scene with their melodic/aggressive Heavy Metal and added to the upswell of
awesome Christian metal acts that were hitting the world's stage! These
guys were sometimes labled a Judas Priest clone band (just because they have a
similar sound) but they made (and continue to make) a HUGE contribution to the
world of Christian Metal!
The Christian metal scene was exploding and there was
a BIG need for some kind of publication to both promote bands and inform fans--"Heaven's
Metal" filled that voic...and it's meant a lot to the christian metal
scene through the years.
SANCTUARY - The
Praise the Lord--lots of people have found
Christ through Christian metal... that's a great thing! Unfortunately, in
the 80s, not all of these new converts "fit" in traditional churchs... God
laid it on Pastor Bob Beeman's heart start a ministry geared directly to these
head-bangin Christ-followers! He called Sanctuary International.
Through Sanctuary christian rock'n'rollers found a home. The first
worshipleader in Sanctuary was Michael Sweet of Stryper. Throughout the
years thousands of metalheads have come to know Christ and grown in faith through
the ministry of Sanctuary. www.sanctuary.ws
the same time--on the "secular" side of the music scene... bands like Ratt, Dokken,
Kiss, AC/DC, Motley Crue, Iron Maiden, Ozzy, Dio, Twisted Sister, Queensryche,
Metalica, etc. were running up the charts as well!
LEVITICUS - The Strongest Power
Leviticus critically acclaimed 2nd
album was released. Brittish Metal Magazine Kerrang called it "One of
the best records of the year"
STRYPER - Soldiers Under
With a heavier sound Stryper's popularity increased and this album
even became one of the 100 best selling releases in the USA! Soldiers Under
Command stayed on the Billboard 100 chart for nearly 36 weeks!
STRYPER - To Hell With The Devil
One of Strypers most successful
releases. This was the height of the MTv days and Stryper shot some
videos for this album which became very successful. The videos for Free,
Calling On You and Honestly were all on MTV's top ten list! No one could
say that Christian metal couldn't compete with the mainstream any more!
Get this--at this time--NO ONE.. No other band... had ever had three videos in the top ten at the same time, none!
Each one of these three videos also topped the MTV's top ten list, Free stayed
number one for 12 weeks straight! Needless to say Stryper's popularity skyrocked
and on the upcoming world tour they sold out the BIG arenas everywhere!.
BLOODGOOD - Bloodgood
Bloodgood entered the scene
lead by bassplayer Michael Bloodgood and singer Les Carlsen. Believe
it or not, Michael's last name really is "Bloodgood". How cool is that?
Bloodgood was/is a great metal band! They absolutely made
substantial contribution to the Christian Metal scene!
METAL--Christian Metal's first record label
This was also the year
when the first christian metal label "Pure Metal" was formed. Many christian
metal bands were signed to this label including Saint, Bride, Messiah Prophet
MESSIAH PROPHET - Master of the Metal
Classic Metal release with a very cool cover from this underground band.
The band unfortunately broke up some time after the release of
METAL MARDI GRAS
The first big christian metal festival
called "The Metal Mardi Gras" was held in Long Beach California. The festival
was sponsored by the metal church Sanctuary. Over ten bands shared
two stages. Metal Edge and Kerrang, two of leading metal magazines at that time,
wrote about the festival and solidified this new movement.
Regency Records released the first christian
metal compilation called California Metal. All the bands featured on this album
attended the metal church Sanctuary in California. This album was very groundbreaking
and introduced us to great bands like Deliverance, Barren Cross, Guardian
WHITECROSS - Whitecross
blazing guitarsolo on the track Nagasake is an all time classic. The
combination of Rex's guitarplay and Scott Wenzel's soulful/raspy vocals instantly
set Whitecross apart as one of the top bands in Christian metal.
Help by many BG fans as the very best
Bloodgood release ever... this release features classics like The Messiah
and the anti-suicide song Alone In Suicide.
STRYPER - In God We Trust
The title says it all. Stryper was never
ashamed to stand up tall for Christ. God used this particular album BIG
TIME in my young walk with Jesus! The guitar and vocal work are superb!
And the Spirit's presence is all over it!
Too Late For Living
A Killer, classic heavy metal work!
RISING - Human Sacrifice
This was just as groundbreaking
for the christian thrash scene as Stryper's The Yellow And Black Attack was to the Heavy Metal Scene. An album showing the world that Christian
thrash would never have to take a back seat (quality wise) to anything the world
had to offer! The album has a really cool cover showing how Jesus became
a human sacrifice when he took our sins upon himself and died for us on the
JERUSALEM - Dancing On The Head of The Serpent
of Jerusalem's best. A great mix of heavy metal thunder and ballads...
coupled with bold, clear lyrics. The cover of the album is a picture
of an army boot crushing Satan's head.
METAL - Volume 2
Another great release with more cool metal from the
Sanctuary bands. This release introduced us to great bands like Recon, Soldier
and many more.
SACRED WARRIOR - Rebellion
release of a fantastic, very Christ-centered (Queensryche like) progressive heavy
JOSHUA - Intense Defense
release featuring guitarist Joshua Perahia and singer Rob Rock. Great melodic
metal with plenty of hooks.
of the seculars labels didn't want to sign any christian metal bands because of
the christian message while many christian labels didn't want to sign christian
metal bands because the music was too HEAVY. A new label INTENSE RECORDS
was started. This label has meant a great deal to the christian metal scene.
Many great bands like Sacred Warrior, Vengeance Rising, Deliverance and Bloodgood
released albums with this company.
ANGELICA - Angelica
Dennis Cameron on guitars and Rob Rock on vocals
made this album a melodic metal masterpiece.
Deliverance took christian metal to a new level with their
bonecrunching speed metal. Their selftitled album was a big success right
from the start and took the world with storm delivering a bold christian message
with real speed metal. They are also known for their motto Faster For The Master!
RAGE OF ANGELS - Rage of Angels
was growing and one of the best bands in this genre was Rage of Angels. Unfortunately
they only released this album before they broke up.
- Get It
X-Sinner's very cool debut. This band offered
AC/DC fans an excellent Christian alternative!
- Knight's of Heaven
Produced by John and Dino Elephante... an
excellent melodic metal album with plenty of hooks, harmonies!
- In Your Face
Commercial Metal at it's finest. Incredible
hooks, shredding guitar solos and singalong choruses! Ken Tamplin and
Co. kicked tail on this one!
SACRED WARRIOR - Master's
Much heavier than their debut and one of the all-time-classics
in christian heavy metal.
BARREN CROSS - State of Control
A well produced release, showing progressive Heavy Metal band Barren
Cross at their best! This is Barren Cross most successful album. The
Crying Over You video was also played on MTV.
- Triumphant Return
An excellent album showing Whitecross at their best...
jam packed with melodic guitar leads and Scott Wenzel's raspy vocals.
- Out of the Darkness
album... a classic Christian metal disc!
John and Dino Elephante had a studio of their own and wanted to help
promising christian bands to release their albums, so they started up their
own label called Pakaderm Records on which they released bands like X-Sinner,
Guardian, Mastedon and many more.
metal has its origins in the early 1970s. Generally, Resurrection Band
and Jerusalem are cited as the earliest Christian metal bands. During
the mid-1980s, the band Stryper helped to popularize the genre, as they
were the first Christian Metal band to reach platinum status on an
Because Christian metal is largely characterized by
lyrical content, there are various musical subgenres within Christian
metal. In the 1980s, Christian metal bands closely followed the trends
of more mainstream bands, producing a large amount of glam metal such
as Stryper, Whitecross and Neon Cross. Many speed and thrash bands such
as Tourniquet, Deliverance, Vengeance Rising, and Believer also began
In 1990, Mortification became the first widely
recognised Christian death metal band. Though they played an old style
of death metal very close to its thrash roots, their 1992 album Scrolls
of the Megilloth is still considered classic death metal, and was
released in both Christian and secular markets. At roughly the same
time the band Living Sacrifice was creating thrash/death metal; also,
Paramaecium became one of the largest Christian doom metal bands and
would influence later Christian bands such as Pantokrator.
is widely considered to be the first Christian black metal band. As a
one man band with only one release (in 1994), Horde initiated
controversy within the extreme metal community, opposing the more
common lyrical themes of Satanism and evil. The title of Horde's only
release -- Hellig Usvart -- means "Holy Unblack", which is now often
used as a replacement name for black metal made by Christians by those
who see black metal as exclusively Satanic.
existed prior to the release of Hellig Usvart but their music was not
yet musically considered black metal. They, as well as Crimson
Moonlight and others(such as Divine Symphony), make up today's more
polished style of Christian black metal comparable to more mainstream
high production black metal bands. However, more traditional and raw
low-production black metal bands such as Abdijah, Duister Maanlicht,
Light Shall Prevail, Offerblod, Arch of Thorns, Eulogium, Eligbbor,
Horrific Majesty, Dormant (band), Firethrone, etc., still exist on
record labels such as Son of Man Records, Sneeuwstorm Produkties, and
GES Productions, among others.
Currently, there exist Christian
metal bands for virtually every sub-genre of metal. Extol has a mixed
(and often changing) style, and is popular among both Christian and
Non-Christian metal fans. Theocracy, Narnia, Rob Rock, Jacobs Dream,
and Divinefire are the most prominent Christian power metal bands. Rob
Rock also achieved initial fame as the vocalist for guitar virtuoso
Chris Impellitteri's band Impellitteri during the 80's and 90's and
then went solo with his Rage of Creation album. He also performed guest
vocals for the heavy metal band Warrior. There are many other notable
bands, including Ultimatum, Becoming the Archetype, Temple of Blood,
Aletheian, Crimson Thorn, Harmony, Saviour Machine, Majestic Vanguard,
Soul Embraced, Afterimage, Disciple, and Veni Domine.
Christian metal artists have found mainstream acceptance selling
millions of albums to both Christian and non-Christian fans, including
P.O.D. and Stryper. Metalcore's popularity is especially based on
Christian bands, including such crossover successes as Underoath, Norma
Jean, Zao, As I Lay Dying, Still Remains, and Demon Hunter.
its 2006 In Review issue (February 2007), Revolver Magazine dubbed
Christian metal the phenomenon of the year. Editor in Chief Tom
Beaujour interviewed the lead singers of As I Lay Dying, Demon Hunter,
Norma Jean, and Underoath (Tim Lambesis, Ryan Clark, Cory Brandan, and
Spencer Chamberlain, respectively) as the front-page article for the
issue. Tooth and Nail Records, P.O.D., Zao, War of Ages, Still Remains,
and He Is Legend were also mentioned.