The journey of contemporary Christian music began in California, when a group of long-haired Jesus Freaks got tired of letting “the devil have all the good music” and started writing worship songs that sounded like folk. sunny rock that was in vogue at the time. Larry Norman forged a path soon followed by people like Andraé Crouch and the Disciples, 2nd Chapter of Acts, the Imperials and Keith Green. Soon, mainstream acceptance came from the likes of Amy Grant, Kirk Franklin, and Jars of Clay, and the modern cult movement transformed CCM into what we think of it today.
This is the big story of CCM. But if you want really To understand Christian rock, you need to look at Christian metal – sometimes referred to as “white metal”. There’s no purer distillation of how weird, unhinged, and sometimes great popular Christian music could reach its peak than when a collection of spandex-clad, feather-headed guys who looked like the wandering of the original madmax movies tried to synthesize (literally, sometimes) the Good News of the Gospel and the crisp sorcery of rock and roll
It seemed odd to outsiders but, truth be told, the jump wasn’t as spectacular as it looked. From its beginnings, metal was interested in the supernatural. Rock icons like Led Zeppelin made no secret of their interest in fantasy like the Lord of the Rings and Black Sabbath pushed back against accusations of Satanism with master of reality, which is probably the first true Christian Metal album. At the very least, it could be argued that “After Forever” was Christian Metal’s first song (“Is God just a thought in your head or is he part of you? // Is Christ just a name you read in a book when you were in school?”)
Given this exceptional pedigree, Christian metal bands have often found themselves more than welcome to share the billing with their more openly occult and curious peers. Bands like Barren Cross, Holy Soldier and Guardian never became household names, but they enjoyed cult status among certain corners of the metalhead scene.
And then, of course, Striper. I can’t forget Stripper. A group of SoCal guys who were obsessed with Van Halen guitars but distressed by their lyrics, Stryper (named after the “scratches” that were wiped across Jesus’ back before he was crucified) rose to prominence . With matching outfits and hair, black and yellow to make Dolly Parton jealous, the band went multi-platinum with 1986. To hell with the devilwith airplay on MTV and even a Grammy nomination.
Metal has always had a taste for the theatrical, and Stryper have proven adept at applying such theatricality to their sound, stage presence and, most importantly, their album covers. Christian art, with its millennial focus on transcending death and battling the demon, was a natural fit for the metal genre, and Christian metal bands happily embraced it. You don’t have to be a metalhead to appreciate the craftsmanship, talent and wild imagination of some of Christian metal’s craziest album covers. You just need two eyes, a spirit baptized in the waters of rock and roll, and a brave heart for what might lurk inside.
Stripper: Soldiers under command
It’s not Stryper’s most well-known album, but probably the closest to communicating their entire contract. If you haven’t memorized the book of Isaiah, this specific scripture is a reference to the coming messiah: “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him and by his wounds we are healed. What exactly does this have to do with four guys dressed as bumblebees packing enough heat to defeat the Sopranos? Not all questions have an answer. For example: Was Senator Ted Cruz in Stryper? There is simply no way of knowing.
Sterile cross: rock for the king
Stryper weren’t the only Christian metal band to find MTV love. The LA Barren Cross natives found traction with a slightly heavier brand of rock – more Iron Maiden than Twisted Sister. Their blue and cream aesthetic here might suggest a “Scottish Eurovision contestant”, but the music itself is really good metal. Check “Imaginary Music” and make sure your Awesome O-Meter is set to MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE.
Bride: silence is madness
Bride was all over the map. Sometimes a heavy metal band. Sometimes a little more metallic hair. In their heyday, the band veered to mainstream success with straightforward rock and roll, recorded at the same Nashville studio that made Amy Grant a star. This album, kinetic faithearned Bride a decent following and even one of CCM’s Dove Awards, but the band’s hearts were never really in radio and they continued to drift into the metal they had cut their teeth on. .
Issuance: Weapons of our war
First thing to do: a great cover. If you were a Christian kid complaining about not being allowed to play Dungeons and Dragons or Castlevania, one look at this hallowed slab of A-level awesomeness should cure you. But Deliverance was not for the faint of heart. They were more in tune with bands like Anthrax and even Slayer – bands with a hard side and harder guitars. But Deliverance never watered down the message, opening Weapons of our war with the prayer of a sinner in good faith.
Holy Warrior: Master’s Command
Sacred Warrior became an old-school Christian metal band: starting as a mainstream metal band called Nomad at the time until their guitarist became a Christian, lead the rest of the band to the Lord and the band begins to pursue a higher path. no less hardcore calls. Sacred Warrior was more melodic and progressive metal than many of its contemporaries. Many of their songs and lyrics are just one acoustic cover away from being ready for Sunday morning worship. The angel on the cover of Master’s Command looks set to cover “Holy, Holy, Holy” herself.
Guardian: First watch
Guardian started out as a straight-up metal band, but softened its edges over time in favor of more classic meat and potato rock over time. But First watch, as you can see, captures the band surveying the horizon, preparing to conquer the desert with a hard rock hallelujah. The band fought their way out of their first contract so they could sign to a more explicitly Christian label – a fight they won, though they lost their lead singer along the way. Eventually the band released a certified hit with “Power of Love” and went on to morph into a more standard alternative rock band along the lines of Bush or Stone Temple Pilots. Real 90s kids don’t complain.
Tourniquet: the slow cosmic journey towards wisdom
Tourniquet is really their own thing, carving out a unique space in Christian metal where a lot of their peers were interested in retooling what worked. Masters of thrash metal with rare musical talent, Tourniquet pushed the boundaries of the genre and weren’t afraid of acoustic shows. Like many bands on this list, Iron Maiden’s influence is clear. But unlike many bands, the lesson Tourniquet seemed to learn from Iron Maiden was to not be afraid to chart your own path.