Christian metal is a form of heavy metal music which, as well as its many subgenres, contains Christian lyrics and themes. It is an umbrella term for metal bands that commonly feature inspirational and religious lyrics. [1]

Christian metal came to existence in the late 1970s Jesus movement, and was pioneered by the American Resurrection Band and Swedish Jerusalem. Los Angeles' Stryper brought the genre into media spotlight during the mid 1980s. The term ”Christian metal” itself was born in 1984,[2] around the time when heavy metal music divided into numerous subgenres. At the same time the secular label Metal Blade Records came up with the term "white metal" in contrast to the rising black metal movement to market the doom metal band Trouble, known for its Biblical lyrics.[3] As a result, "white metal" was used interchangeably with "Christian metal" until the early 1990s when the mainstream popularity of the scene ended and the movement went underground. After that, English-speaking countries (North America, Australia, United Kingdom etc.) and Central and Northern European scenes adopted the "Christian metal" term, while "white metal" remained in use in South America and southwestern Europe.[4] California's Tourniquet and Australia's Mortification lead the movement in the 1990s. The metalcore groups Underoath, As I Lay Dying and Norma Jean pioneered the genre's revival in the 2000s.

Although the term ”Christian metal” is used for the musical movement, it has established itself as a cross-genre term. Christian metal bands exist even in the more extreme subgenres, which is contrary to the general belief that Christian metal represents softer styles of heavy metal music. For example, All Music Guide defines Christian metal as ”between arena rock and pop metal, though there are the occasional bands that are heavier.”[1] However, the only common link between most Christian metal bands are the lyrics, and often the Christian themes are melded with the subjects of the genre the band is rooted in, regularly providing a Christian take on the subject matter.

Characteristics Edit

Christian metal has all of the heavy metal's trademarks, particularly loud guitars, declamatory riffs, long solos, and pseudo-operatic vocals.[1] Christian metal is not a solitary style of music, on the contrary, it is comprised by almost every subgenre of heavy metal music. Therefore the only notable difference lies in the lyrics. The musicians within Christian Metal bands typically base their lyrics on Judeo-Christian traditions. The lyrical approach depends on bands, as some emphasize the positive aspects of faith matters while others iterate the teachings of Christ. Some bands keep their message covered in metaphors. Only a minority take an aggressive attitude towards those who speak against Christianity, such as Vengeance Rising.[5]

The lyrical style varies depending on culture, denomination, and country. For example, in Northern Europe the bands usually prefer a personal lyrical approach, which is seldom meant to "convert" in an aggressive manner. Christian bands almost never deny their conviction, but typically avoid preaching since they want their music to be entertaining while still containing their message. Some Christian metal bands do not declare their conviction at all and only concentrate on the entertainment aspect of music.[5]

History Edit


Christian metal has its origins in the late 1960s and early 1970s in the Jesus movement, a hippie movement with Christian ideology consisting of hippies that converted to Christianity. The Christian hippies within this movement, known as "Jesus People", developed a musical movement called Jesus music, which primarily began in southern California when hippie street musicians converted to Christianity. These musicians continued playing the same styles of music they had played before converting, though they infused their lyrics with a Christian message. Possibly the very first documented appearance of a rock band playing in church is Mind Garage in 1967, whose music was called "electric liturgy", and it was finally recorded for RCA in 1969 and released in 1970 on an album titled The Liturgy.[6] Larry Norman was another early Christian rock musician who released his first album titled Upon This Rock in 1969 which is arguably the first Christian rock album produced.[7] After joining the band People!, he began to draw attention writing songs such as "Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music?", opposing the growing beliefs that the devil is the father of rock and roll music.[8]

Rez band live

Resurrection Band, one of first Christian hard rock bands, live in concert, August 1988.

Following Larry Norman in early 1970s, there appeared other musicians and ensembles within the Christian hippie movement that played folk rock and released their first recordings: Randy Matthews, The Archers, Dallas Holm, Benny Hester, Petra, Mylon LeFevre, Phil Keaggy, Randy Stonehill, and The Way. However, although these groups were more part with the Contemporary Christian Music scene rather than what would become known as Christian metal, amongst them there began appearing bands that played the emerging musical styles of the 1970s such as psychedelic rock, progressive rock, hard rock, and heavy metal.[8]

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Sample of "Lightshine" by Resurrection Band, from Awaiting Your Reply (1978). Presenting the band's hard rock style, the song is considered the highlight of the acclaimed album and has been a concert favorite of the band for as long as the group has been around.[9]

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The first Christian hard rock group was possibly the California based band Agape, formed in the late 1960s. Known for their psychedelic rock and blues influences, the band released an album titled Gospel Hard Rock in 1971, followed by Victims of Tradition in 1972. [10] After Agape, the Resurrection Band was formed in 1972 in Milwaukee's Jesus People community and released the hard rock album Music to Raise the Dead in 1974. The Swedish group Jerusalem was formed in 1975 and is cited as another early Christian hard rock group.[7] In 1978 Resurrection Band Released its album Awaiting Your Reply and Jerusalem released Jerusalem (Volume 1). Both albums had a notable impact on Christian music culture.[2] During that time, heavy metal was a new style of music for the Christian industry, and many Christian labels did not expect it to sell well. However, Awaiting Your Reply hit big in the Christian market, and reached #6 on the Gospel album sales charts. Jerusalem also became an instant hit among listeners, and within the first six months the record sold 20,000 copies, unheard of within the genre of Christian rock in Europe.[11] Later, Jerusalem released the album Dancing on the Head of the Serpent, regarded as their greatest work by fans and critics.[12]

The Canadian progressive hard rock group Daniel Band was formed in 1979 and is cited as one of the first together with Resurrection Band and Jerusalem.[7][2] Daniel Band released the albums On Rock and Straight Ahead on the following years. A female-fronted hard rock band called Barnabas was formed in 1977, but the band was more active in the 1980s.[13]



In the early 1980s there were four notable Christian heavy metal groups: Messiah Prophet, Leviticus, Saint, and Stryper.[7] The Swedish band Leviticus was formed by Bjorn Stiggson in 1982. The band's early releases were glam metal typical of the 1980s style.[14] Their second 1985 album The Strongest Power was put as one of the best records of that year in overviews by magazines such as Kerrang!.[15] This was the worldwide-breakthrough for the band.[15] Saint was compared to the British heavy metal band Judas Priest mostly due to the Rob Halford sounding style vocals of lead singer Josh Kramer.[16][17] Saint are best known for the negativity reflected in their lyrics. Common themes of their early releases include hell, evil, and apocalyptic themes such as the End times.[16] Their most successful album was Time's End (1986).[16] Although it is debatable as to which band was formed first, the Orange County native glam metal group Stryper was the most popular out of the two. Although Saint was way heavier than Stryper. Stryper was also the first band to identify as Christian metal. Stryper gained attention with their way of throwing Bibles with the band logo stickers on the covers at the end of their concerts.[7] In the beginning mostly Christians went to Stryper's concerts but soon they reached secular audience.[18] In the 1980s, Christian metal bands closely followed the trends of more mainstream bands.[7]

During the mid 1980s, heavy metal music divided into numerous subgenres and the term "Christian metal" was officially born in 1984.[2] The Chicago doom metal group Trouble was known to be the first band that was publicly marketed as "white metal" since their early albums Psalm 9 and The Skull feature Biblical references, at the time when Christian beliefs were almost unheard of in the metal world.[19] The term was born outside the Christian circles; it was the secular label Metal Blade Records that came up with and arose the term "white metal" in contrast to the rising black metal movement which was led by the bands such as Venom and Sodom.[8] However, while the vocalist Eric Wagner wrote all of the Trouble's lyrics, the guitarist Bruce Franklin has said about the Christian themes: "I guess it came from Eric's early interest in Biblical subjects, not from his interest in being a Christian, but from searching for something that was interesting."[20] Later, HM magazine wrote about the band: "While certainly not what one would call a Christian band, many Christian headbangers have enjoyed Troubles's upfront lyrics about the Lord on its first two albums (when they were commonly called the "white metal" band)."[21] Eric Wagner himself has commented on marketing the band as white metal:

It was Metal Blade. Back then they called all of it ´Black Metal´, y´know, Slayer, Danzig, etc., all those bands, they are ´Black Metal´, so I didn't grow up believing in all that crap and I think that people didn't believe in it either. It was a question about marketing your band in some way, so I had to do it. So I did this. Metal Blade called us as a “White Metal band” and I just wished they didn't.[3]


Stryper's To Hell with the Devil (1986) is the best selling Christian metal album to date.

It took a year for the metal music subculture to realize that the members of these groups were Christians who actually claimed to believe in Christ. Stryper, for instance, although a commercial success at that time, received a hostile reception when they played at a Dutch metal festival in 1985.[22] Regardless of this, Stryper helped to popularize the genre,[23] being the first Christian metal band to reach platinum status on an album. Christian metal made its breakthrough in 1984 when Stryper released The Yellow and Black Attack EP.[5] The 1986 album To Hell with the Devil sold 2 million copies and achieved a Grammy nomination. The music videos for "Free", "Calling on You", and the power ballad "Honestly" all spent many weeks on Music Television's Top 10, and "Free" was in the number 1 position for 12 weeks. Following Stryper's success, Christian metal music became popular and was brought to media spotlight.[24][25]

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Sample of "To Hell with the Devil" by Stryper, from To Hell with the Devil (1986). Representing Stryper's glam metal style, this is one of the most popular songs from the album that greatly bolstered the popularity of Christian metal.

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Not only was Christian metal criticized by secular metal fans, but soon the movement was also criticized by fundamentalists.[26] For example, the televangelist Jimmy Swaggart wrote a book triggering off Stryper titled Religious Rock n' Roll – A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing in 1987 and criticized the scene for using heavy metal music to preach the gospel of Christianity. This drew the attention of the secular media to the Christian metal movement, which allowed the genre to gain fans worldwide. Many new bands began to arise, eventually drawing the attention of record labels that specialized in Christian music.[8][27]

Stryper and Barnabas were the main targets for criticism in the 1980s. While Barnabas went on to record some of the more notable Christian metal achievements of the early to mid 1980s, they were controversial and took some of heat and criticism from several "Christian leaders". However, Barnabas broke a lot of ice for the heavy Christian music scene in terms of sound, appearance, and lyrical content. Their best known albums were Approaching Light Speed, Feel The Fire, and the lyrically controversial Little Foxes.[28]

The scene developsEdit

Christian metal soon developed into its own music industry. The first Christian metal label was Pure Metal Records, a sublabel of Refuge Records. Soon there appeared other labels such as R.E.X. Records and Intense Records.[27]

The regular music magazines did not cover the phenomena of Christian metal music industry very often. In 1985, Doug Van Pelt answered to this and published the first issue of Heaven's Metal fanzine. During that time almost every Christian record label became interested in Christian metal, and they advertised the newly signed metal bands on their roster on Heaven's Metal since it was the only publication exclusively covering the movement. Soon Heaven's Metal achieved more popularity and became an official, professional publication, with five full-time journalists working for the magazine. Heaven's Metal achieved a dedicated flock of 15,000 readers, and Van Pelt became a well-known and respected music author. Bands' sales usually rose when the ensembles were covered on the magazine.[29][2]

Following Heaven's Metal, there were began appearing other less-known fanzines such as White Throne. It started in the mid-late 1980s and continued into the early 1990s. However, as time went on the fanzine's focus shifted to include other music styles, including hip hop. Other American fanzines included Wreathe of Thorns, Turn Or Burn, Narrowpath, Screams of Abel, White Metal Review (USA), and White Metal Alternatives (USA). In Europe and South America, the emerging fanzines included Adonai Metal Rock (France), White Rock (Sweden), Blood Sacrifice (Germany), White Metal Crusades (Brazil 1987–1988), and White Metal Detonation (Brazil 1991–1992). Like these titles imply, the term "white metal" was also used alongside with "Christian metal" in the early Christian metal underground press in some parts of the world. However, the use of "white metal" was mainly limited to compilation album titles, such as White Metal Invasion and White Metal Warriors Last Ship Home, since it was a common term among secular metal fans. During the 1980s and early 1990s, the more underground Christian metal releases were typically distributed in Christian bookstores, and those as well as the fanzines also traded Christian metal cassette copies with the music fans.[27]

Sanctuary InternationalEdit

Many rock and metal fans were rejected from churches in 1980s. In 1984, California, pastor Bob Beeman saw this problem and soon started the ministry called Sanctuary - The Rock and Roll Refuge. This fellowship brought many musicians together and formed groups such as Tourniquet, Deliverance, Vengeance and Mortal that would soon become ground breaking acts in Christian music culture. Sanctuary's first worship leader was Stryper's vocalist Michael Sweet and later Barren Cross' bass player Jim LaVerde.[2] Sanctuary sponsored the first Christian metal festival, The Metal Mardi Gras, held in 1987 in Los Angeles. This proved influential and soon Christian metal festivals were organized elsewhere as well. Sanctuary's activities began spreading, and it had 36 parishes all over the United States at its peak by 1990s. The Sanctuary parishes had significant impact on the Christian metal movement: groups that would later become notable such as P.O.D. performed their first concerts in Sanctuary. It also reached many born again rock and metal musicians. For example, when Alice Cooper (Vincent Furnier) became a Christian, the Sanctuary personnel advised Cooper not to make "Christian music" since they felt that the Christian industry would turn off Cooper's fans and then he could not influence them carefully.[30]

However, by late 1990s the parish's workers felt that regular churches' attitudes towards metalheads, rockers and punks had became more permissive, and therefore did not feel the need to keep Sanctuary going on any longer. All the parishes of Sanctuary were closed, apart from San Diego's Sanctuary, where pastor Dave Hart kept his parish that was aimed at reborn Christian goths. Sanctuary became Sanctuary International, and it currently gives international studies and lessons on Christianity. Sanctuary also runs an internet radio station called "Intense Radio" which, in 2003, reached approximately 150,000 listeners.[30]

Late 1980s metal groupsEdit

There were also other notable hard rock, heavy metal and glam metal groups active from the late 1980s. Whitecross was formed 1986 in Chicago, releasing their first recording Whitecross the following year. Their early albums, which often invite comparisons to Ratt, are laced with fast, technical guitar work of Rex Carroll, who became well-known as a talented guitar virtuoso.[31] Sacred Warrior, formed in 1988 was also from Chicago and their music is often compared to that of Queensrÿche or Metal Church. Of all their albums, their first release, Rebellion, is considered to be their best.[32] The California native group Barren Cross was formed in 1983. Musically, the band is often compared to Iron Maiden, mainly due to the similarity of the vocals between Mike Lee and Maiden frontman Bruce Dickinson.[33] Their most notable album, Atomic Arena was distributed to both secular and Christian markets and a music video was made for "Imaginary Music", which received some MTV airplay. The Washington group Bloodgood was formed in 1985. Their first major United States tour was in 1987, and was protested by groups on the Christian right.[34] The band was more popular in Europe than in the United States,[35] and they toured the United Kingdom in 1988. This tour featured lead vocalist Les Carlsen portraying Pontius Pilate during the song "Crucify," as well as a graphic, live-action portrayal of Christ being crucified.[36] Bloodgood opened ways for Christian speed and thrash metal styles.[37]

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Sample of "Hell No" by Bride, from Live to Die (1988). A popular song from the album that showcases the band's speed metal era at its finest, "Hell No" has become a Christian metal anthem.[9]

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The Kentucky based band Bride, formed in 1983, started out playing speed metal and released the albums Show No Mercy (1986) Live to Die (1988) Silence is Madness (1989). Bride's early albums did not sell well. It was not until they changed to hard rock style that Bride began reaching wider audience on the 1993 album Snakes in the Playground. Despite being criticized for their abrupt changes in style in favor of what's "hot",[38] Bride have gained a large following,[39] and are still considered "a primeval force at the centre of Christian heavy metal."[40] The band X-Sinner was formed in 1988 and is known for having a very similar sound to that of AC/DC,[41] and released the popular albums Get It (1989) and Peace Treaty (1991) on Pakaderm Records. X-Sinner was named the favorite new band of 1989 by the readers of HM Magazine.[41] The California speed metal band Recon, formed in late 1980s, released only one yet popular album, Behind Enemy Lines on Intense Records in 1990. The Connecticut glam metal group Rage of Angels was cited as "one of the most promising bands in Christian metal" and were often compared to the likes of Mötley Crüe. However, the band split up before they even released their only album Rage of Angels in 1989, and several members went to play in the secular band Steelheart.[42]

The band Neon Cross was formed in California in 1983. Neon Cross started playing clubs in Hollywood during the 80s and attracted the attention of record company Regency Records in 1987 and was asked to record two songs for their upcoming compilation album. After the release of that CD, Neon Cross was signed to Regency to record their self titled album. In 1993 the band got back together and was signed by Rugged Records to record their second full length CD, Torn.[43] Another Californian glam metal group, Holy Soldier, formed in early 1985, released its self-titled debut on Word and A&M Records (Myrrh imprint) in 1990 to critical and commercial acclaim. Two years later, the band followed up their debut with Last Train, another critical success. The commercial success of Last Train, however, did not live up to its critical acclaim, and after their 60 city world tour, lead vocalist Steven Patrick abruptly left the group. The band Guardian, formed in 1982, released their notable second album Fire and Love in 1991 under the Pakaderm label. The response to the album was overwhelming and one of the videos was included in the MTV's Headbangers Ball rotation.[44] The heavy metal band Angelica introduced vocalist Rob Rock, who would later gain notice for his soloproject. Rob Rock also sang in the band Joshua, formed in early 1980s in California, which released the albums The Hand is Quicker Than the Eye (1983) Surrender (1985), and Intense Defense (1988). The group Shout was compared to Stryper as their glam metal styles were similar.[45] The band Crystavox was compared to Skid Row and released two albums, Crystavox (1990) and The Bottom Line (1992). The band Mastedon played glam metal and released the album It's a Jungle Out There (1989) and Lofcaudio (1990).

Underground metalEdit

For more details on this topic, see Underground Era of Christian metal.

In the early 1990s, the rising musical styles, especially grunge, began to take their places as the dominant styles in the mainstream, which resulted in heavy metal music losing popularity and going underground for a decade.[46] Heavy metal musicians began to seek musical limits. Therefore Christian metal musicians began to play extreme music as well. Soon death metal replaced thrash metal in popularity. For the time being it was typical that Christian bands took it seriously how secular bands affected their audience. Death metal and black metal styles had grown more and more dominant in the metal underground. Themes such violence, evil, and occult had become growing subjects in the lyrics of secular bands, such as Deicide and Morbid Angel. As a counteraction to this, there was a significant phenomenon that Christian bands wrote lyrics that encouraged to go to idealistic war against evil.[47] The mainstream was no longer interested in the Christian metal movement, and the metal audiences in many underground metal scenes began favoring more extreme sounds and disparaging the popular styles, including Christian metal.[48] This affected notably on how the more traditional Christian heavy metal bands such as Saint, Bloodgood, and Leviticus, who, for example, split up in the 1990s. Even Stryper's popularity went through a regression. The band could not return its success even though they tried to change their style from pop metal to classic metal on the 1990 album Against the Law, and eventually Stryper split up in 1993.[49]

Several changes happened: the metal scene in the United States focused more on the alternative styles. This caused the regional change that the center of heavy metal music moved to Middle and Northern Europe.[50] Even Heaven's Metal changed to HM: The Hard Music Magazine in 1995, and focused more on the mainstream Christian hard music rather than underground metal music. With the lead of Heaven's Metal magazine, the term "white metal" was abandoned by the Christian metal scenes in English-speaking countries as well as the Central and Northern European countries. They adopted the "Christian metal" term, and "white metal" remained in use in South America and southwestern Europe, although several groups in those scenes began rejecting the "white metal" tag as well. During the 1990s, Christian metal was almost forgotten in the eyes of the mainstream. Very few metal groups saw mainstream success. However, bands such as Tourniquet remained popular despite their drastic stylistical changes.[27]

The 1990s Christian underground metal benefited remarkably from the major German secular metal label Nuclear Blast Records's active distribution and sudden interest in Christian metal. Torodd Fuglesteg of Norway's Arctic Serenades Records has claimed: "The owner of Nuclear Blast was a committed Christian and he was pushing everything with that religious agenda through Nuclear Blast. Mortification and Horde were pushed like mad by Nuclear Blast when other labels were pushing pure satanic stuff."[51]


In 1986, the band Bloodgood opened ways for Christian speed and thrash metal styles with their song "Black Snake".Cite error: Closing </ref> missing for <ref> tag. The four biggest Christian thrash metal groups were Deliverance, Believer, Vengeance and Tourniquet. Vengeance's 1988 album Human Sacrifice, the first and one of the most influential Christian thrash metal releases.[52] The British bands Seventh Angel and Detritus introduced Christian thrash metal to Europe.[53] During the late 1990s, an Oklahoman group called Eternal Decision gained attention with its thrash and groove metal style.[54] Temple of Blood and Ultimatum are some of the more recent acclaimed groups in the Christian speed and thrash metal genre.[55]

In 1990, the Australian group Mortification became the first widely recognized Christian death metal band. Though they played an old style of death metal, on the album Mortification (1990), very close to its thrash roots, their 1992 album Scrolls of the Megilloth is still considered classic death metal,[56] and was released in both Christian and secular markets as the band was signed to Nuclear Blast Records. The album was almost as ground breaking as Stryper's To Hell With the Devil.[2] Scrolls of the Megilloth brought Mortification to the elite of the death metal movement.[56] Mortification is possibly the most successful extreme metal band in Australia and the most successful Christian extreme metal group in the world.[57] Prior to Mortification the Brazilian band Incubus (later known as Opprobrium) already combined Christian lyrics to death metal.[58] Living Sacrifice and Crimson Thorn were prominent bands in United States.[59][60] Other notable American death metal bands include Disencumbrance, Clemency, and Embodyment.[61] The best-known Christian grindcore group that focused on goregrind style is the Australian band Vomitorial Corpulence. Scandinavian death metal was represented by Norway's Schaliach, Groms, and Extol, and Finland's Deuteronomium and Immortal Souls. Extol's Burial is credited for renewing the Christian metal scene.[62] and noted for their exceptionally precise guitarwork.[63] Technical death metal is currently presented by bands such as Aletheian and Sympathy.

Horde 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.[64] The title of Horde's only release — Hellig Usvart — means "Holy Unblack", which is now often used by Christians to refer to Christian black metal, in order to avoid the negative connotations of the term "black metal".[65] Antestor (then called Crush Evil) existed prior to the release of Hellig Usvart but their music was a death/doom style (or as they called it, "Sorrow Metal"), and was not yet musically considered black metal. During the early 1990s when the band was known as Crush Evil, Euronymous, guitarist for the seminal black metal band Mayhem, was planning to stop Crush Evil from continuing.[66] By some sources, Antestor started the northern European Christian extreme metal scene.[67] The release of Antestor's The Return of the Black Death on the British secular black metal label Cacophonous Records in 1998 proved influential on the Christian black metal movement. While the unblack scene is not part of the secular black metal scene, several musicians from both have co-operated: Stian Aarstad of Dimmu Borgir produced Vaakevandring's Demo 98/99,[68] and Jan Axel Blomberg of Mayhem played drums for Antestor's The Forsaken (2005) album.[69]

Sacred Warrior preceded Christian power metal in the United States. In Europe, the German group Seventh Avenue and the Swedish group Narnia were the leading groups.[70] Harmony and Divinefire are currently some of the more critically acclaimed bands.[2] The British group Balance of Power was a notable Christian progressive metal band in Europe, whereas in United States the bands Jacobs Dream, Theocracy, and Magnitude Nine represented the style. Dracma is popular band in the style in South America.[71]

In 1987, the Swedish group Veni Domine started playing progressive doom metal and released its first album Fall Babylon Fall in 1992. The album was called a "masterpiece" by some critics.[72] Australia's Paramaecium and Britain's Ashen Mortality are the two best known doom metal bands in Christian metal.[73] What sets Paramaecium apart from other bands in the doom metal scene, is the fact that they are the only Christian death doom band that made it to the top of the genre.[74] British group Ashen Mortality was formed after thrash metal band Seventh Angel split up. The critics usually wrote that Ashen Mortality's overall quality set them apart from competitors.[75]

Christian gothic metal was pioneered by Saviour Machine who were more popular in Europe, particularly in Germany, than US.[76] Later, Poland's Undish, Germany's Necromance and Australia's Kohllapse became prominent Christian bands in the style.[77][78]

The alternative metal style's leading groups included the nu metal bands P.O.D. and Disciple. Zao was a pioneer of metalcore, paving way for bands such as UnderOath and Norma Jean. Mortal and Circle of Dust were the cult bands in Christian industrial metal. Both of the groups achieved Music Television airplay during their time.[79]

2000s: RevivalEdit

Return to mainstreamEdit

As I Lay Dying-8331

As I Lay Dying has been at the forefront of metalcore along with Killswitch Engage and Unearth since 2002.[80]

The movement's revival began in the 2000s as the media began to show interest towards the scene again, with some groups reaching mainstream popularity. There are Christian metal bands that perform 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.[81] Extol has toured with secular bands such as Mastodon, Opeth and God Forbid, their 2005 album The Blueprint Dives was nominated for Norway's Grammy, Spellemannsprisen, and it was voted for the top 5 metal albums of the year list by the readers of the biggest newspaper in Norway called Dagbladet.[82][83] Rob Rock also achieved initial fame as the vocalist for guitar virtuoso Chris Impellitteri's band Impellitteri during the 1980s and 1990s and then went solo with his Rage of Creation album.[84] He also performed guest vocals for the heavy metal band Warrior.

The Christian metal movement has spread worldwide since it emerged in the early 1980s, and there are now hundreds of active Christian metal bands. Inspired by the metal revival, many 1980s bands have made comebacks including Saint, Bloodgood and Stryper.[85][86] In October 2004, Doug Van Pelt brought Heaven's Metal back as its own fanzine.[87] The Internet has had a significant role on the revival of Christian metal as well. Many websites and online communities are dedicated to discussions about Christian metal's music, events, and bands.

For the first time since Stryper's success in the 1980s, certain Christian metal artists have found mainstream acceptance selling millions of albums to both Christian and non-Christian fans, including UnderOath and P.O.D., which became the most successful Christian metal band when their 2001 album Satellite went multi-platinum.[88] Metalcore's popularity is especially based on Christian bands, including such crossover successes as UnderOath, As I Lay Dying, Norma Jean, Haste The Day, and Demon Hunter. As I Lay Dying have entered the Billboard's Top 200 charts (#8) for its record sales and were nominated for the "Best Metal Performance" Grammy for the single "Nothing Left" from the 2007 album An Ocean Between Us.[89] The album made its debut on Metal Blade Records,' charting at #19 in Canada. In the United States, nearly 40,000 units were sold in its first week. The second week after it was released, it charted at #39 in both the United States and Canada. Other Top 200 debuts around the world include a #117 in the United Kingdom and #154 in Japan.[90]

In its 2006 In Review issue (February 2007), Revolver Magazine dubbed Christian metal the phenomenon of the year.[91] 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 Putman, 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.[92]

Christianity in mainstream metalEdit

For more details on this topic, see Christianity in mainstream metal.

There are notable mainstream acts that feature or have featured Christian members. While these bands may or may not have had lyrics using Christian themes or symbolism, it is worth noting that some have caused controversy in their claims to Christianity, such as Tom Araya of Slayer[93] and Ralph Santolla of Deicide.[94] Others, such as Killswitch Engage and Linkin Park also have members who are Christian and frequently use spiritual themes.[95][96] Phil Labonte of All That Remains is a former Christian and includes Christian themes in his lyrics up to The Fall of Ideals album,on songs such as "The Air That I Breathe" and "Not Alone", but then turned atheist on the next album Overcome.


Certain Christian groups, most notably those in some King James Only denominations,[97] consider all types of rock and metal music to be opposition to their faith, regardless of lyrical content or the lifestyles of the band members. However, fans and artists see metal as another genre of music, parallel to such genres as blues, classical, jazz, punk, and hip-hop. Bands such as Showbread and Antestor believe that the instrumentation of the music is simply a medium of art, while the person creating the music as well as the lyrics being presented provide the message. Therefore, Christian metal is created when Christians compose metal music in a way that reflects their faith in Christ.[7]

Certain fans of metal consider the use of Christian lyrics to be opposed to the "true" purpose of metal. Their attitudes range from ignoring the opinions or rejection of religion, though some will admit that Christian metal can contain enjoyable bands like secular metal. [98] During the 1980s and 1990s, the Christian metal movement was criticized for lack of originality by both Christian and secular groups. In an interview with Mean Magazine, Kris Klingesmith of Barnabas stated that "If you want to know what Christian music will be doing tomorrow, all you need to do is see what the secular guys are doing today."[7]

Some groups within the Christian metal movement, most notably bands from the 1980s and 1990s, have criticized bands within the industry for isolating the genre from the secular industry too avidly. For example, Callisto has stated that when a band becomes part of the movement, it is difficult to be portrayed as anything more than just a "Christian band," due to the isolation.[99] However, most Christian bands today oppose to being isolated in the Christian music industry and have become mainstream successes, such as Underoath, Virgin Black[100], and Tourniquet.

See alsoEdit

Record labels Edit





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  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Lahtonen, Jussi (25.10.2005). White Metal (Finnish). Sue Rock Punk Metal Zine. Retrieved on 2007-09-07.
  6. A Contemporary Mass, Retrieved 2008-03-29
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 7.7 Kapelovitz, Dan (February 2001). "Heavy Metal Jesus Freaks - Headbanging for Christ". Mean Magazine. Retrieved on 2007-09-06. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 History of Christian Rock/Metal part 1 (Portuguese). Rock for the King. Ope Publishing. Retrieved on 2007-12-19.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Allender, Mark W. B.. Resurrection Band - Awaiting Your Reply. All Music Guide. Retrieved on 2007-12-19.
  10. Thompson 2000, "Heavenly Metal", p. 154
  11. Powell, Mark Allan (2002). Encyclopedia of Contemporary Christian Music, First printing, Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 448–449. ISBN 1-56563-679-1. 
  12. Majalahti, Michael. The Best Kept Secrets in Rock. Imperiumi. Retrieved on 2007-12-19.
  13. Thompson 2000, "Heavenly Metal", p. 155
  14. Powell 2002, "Leviticus", p. 524
  15. 15.0 15.1 Leviticus Biography. Tartarean Desire. Retrieved on 2007-12-21.
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 Powell 2002, "Saint", p. 787
  17. Hale 1993, "Saint", p. 2497
  18. Christe, Ian (2003). Sound of the Beast: The Complete Headbanging History of Heavy Metal. Pages 196. HarperCollins. ISBN 0-380-81127-8
  19. Rivadavia, Eduardo. Trouble. All Music Guide. Retrieved on 2007-11-29.
  20. Siva, Shan. Supershine. Retrieved on 2007-11-29.
  21. "Hard News" (May 1996) 58. Retrieved on 2007-12-26. “Trouble's most recent album, Plastic Green Head has finally benn released in US (After contractual obligations only allowed the album to be released first in Europe first) Original drumer Jeff Olson has rejoined the fold for this album which is being distributed by century Media Records. As many of you know, Jeff left the band shortly becoming born again. Guitarist Bruce Franklin chose to remain with the band after his conversion, being a light in a somewhat troubling band. (Not every believer can handle its lead singer saying f-word from the stage and in its songs) Musically speaking, imagine Axl Rose singing for the original Black Sabbath and you get some idea of where the band's musical identity lies. While certainly not what one would call a Christian band. Many Christian headbangers have enjoyed Trouble's upfront lyrics about the Lord on its first two albums (When they were commonly called the 'White Metal' band) The band's last two albums have traveled in this direction, but inclusion of two Christians members have kept watching this band somewhat interesting.” 
  22. Christe, Ian (2003). Sound of the Beast: The Complete Headbanging History of Heavy Metal. Pages 204. HarperCollins. ISBN 0-380-81127-8
  23. Hale, Mark (1993). "2869", Headbangers, First edition, second printing, Ann Arbor, Michigan: Popular Culture, Ink., 336. ISBN 1-56075-029-4. 
  24. Hale 1993, "Sryper", p. 336
  25. Thompson 2000, "Heavenly Metal", p. 152-156
  26. Henderson, Alex. Stryper - The Yellow and Black Attack!. All Music Guide. Retrieved on 2007-12-19. “When church leaders were accusing heavy metal of encouraging Satanism, Stryper set out to prove that metal and hard rock could be used to promote Christianity. The southern California band was viewed with suspicion by both ministers (who refused to believe that Christianity and metal were compatible) and fellow headbangers—and yet, Stryper managed to sell millions of albums to both Christian and secular audiences.”
  27. 27.0 27.1 27.2 27.3 History of Christian Rock/Metal part 2 (Portuguese). Rock for the King. Ope Publishing. Retrieved on 2007-12-19.
  28. Barnabas. Firestream. Retrieved on 2007-12-10.
  29. Langer, Andy (2000-08-07). Heaven's Metal. Weekwire. Retrieved on 2007-12-11.
  30. 30.0 30.1 Borgmasters, Mazi (2003). "Sanctuary International". Ristillinen 3: 22–28. Retrieved on 2007-12-03. “Interview with pastor Bob Beeman” 
  31. Broom, Rob (1995-12-01). Rex Carroll - The Rex Carroll Sessions. Cross Rhythms. Retrieved on 2007-12-19. “I last encountered this ex-Whitecross man's technical finger work and electric rocking guitar chords on his 1994 album project 'King James'.”
    Rex Carroll - The Rex Carroll Sessions. Christian Guitarist (2007). Retrieved on 2007-12-19. “It was 1987 when Whitecross first hit the scene with their debut self titled album on Pure Metal records. That is when we were first introduced to Rex Carrol - one of Christian music's most legendary guitarists. It's been two decades and Carroll and his bandmates have given us a true treasure. A complete studio re recording of their first album and I have to say that this CD is pure ear candy. We can hear every note he plays with digital clarity. He is trully an amazing player and for that CGM is paying him this six string salute!”
    Rex Carroll Sessions. Christian Music Online (1995). Retrieved on 2007-12-19. “It wouldn't be fitting for the ax-slinging guitar hero from Christian music's premiere metal band to rest on his laurels.”
  32. Powell 2002, "Sacred Warrior", p. 786
  33. Hale 1993, "Barren Cross", p. 67–68
  34. Bloodgood reunites. Wise Men Promotions (2007-02-26). Retrieved on 2007-02-28.
  35. Powell 2002, "Bloodgood", p. 94
  36. Hale 1993, "0405", p. 45–46
  37. Waters, Scott (2007). Circle of Dust. No Life 'til Metal. Open Publishing. Retrieved on 2007-10-13.
  38. Long, Andy (2000-12-01). Bride - The Best of Bride. Cross Rhythms. Retrieved on 2007-12-19.
  39. Clarck, Richard (1992-02-01). Bride - Kinetic Faith. Cross Rhythms. Retrieved on 2007-12-19.
  40. Spenceley, Haydon (2007-02-18). Bride - Skin for Skin. Cross Rhythms. Retrieved on 2007-12-19.
  41. 41.0 41.1 Hale 1993, "X-Sinner", p. 1060
  42. Van Pelt, Doug. White Metal, La Historia del Heavy Metal Cristiano (Spanish). Az Heavy Metal. Retrieved on 2007-10-12.
  43. Hale 1993, "Neon Cross", p. 241
  44. Powell 2002, "Guardian", p. 393–395
  45. Powell 2002, "Shout", p. 821–822
  46. Christe (2003), pp. 304–6; Weinstein (1991), p. 278
  47. Examples of lyrics that encouraged to go to idealistic war against evil include the following albums: Deliverance - Weapons of Our Warfare (1990), Mortification - Mortification (1990), Tourniquet - Stop the Bleeding, Horde - Hellig Usvart and Antestor - Despair among others.
  48. Walser, Robert (1993). Running with the Devil: Power, Gender, and Madness in Heavy Metal Music. Wesleyan University Press. ISBN 0-8195-6260-2, p. 14; Christe (2003), p. 170
  49. Christe (2003) The Change in the 1990s: Black Album and Beyond. Page 230.
  50. Pedon Meteli (Finnish). Suezine (2005-09-17). Retrieved on 2007-09-24. “"The heart of comtemporary metal is in Middle and Northern Europe." ("Nykypäivän metallin sydän on Keski- ja Pohjois-Euroopassa, piste.")”
  51. Fuglesteg, Torodd. Arctic Serenades. Open Publishing. Retrieved on 2007-12-11.
  52. Powell (2002). "Vengeance Rising", Encyclopedia of Contemporary Christian Music, 993–994. 
  53. Hoff, Brian (1990-07-01). Seventh Angel - The Torment. Cross Rhythms. Retrieved on 2007-12-19.
    Sammons, Greg (2006-07-31). Seventh Angel - Heed the Warning Demo Recordings. Cross Rhythms. Retrieved on 2007-12-19.
    Cummings, Tony (1991-06-01). Detritus - Perpetual Defiance. Cross Rhythms. Retrieved on 2007-12-19.
  54. Mesquita Borges, Mario (2005-04-30). Eternal Decision. All Music Guide. Open Publishing. Retrieved on 2007-09-09.
  55. Henn, Ralf (2006-05-26). Temple of Blood - Prepare for the Judgement of Mankind. The Metal Observer. Retrieved on 2007-12-19.
    Trampakoulas. Temple of Blood - Prepare for the Judgement of Mankind. The Forgotten Scroll. Retrieved on 2007-12-19.
  56. 56.0 56.1 Kraemer, Chris. Mortification - Scrolls of the Megilloth Review. The Metal Observer. Retrieved on 2006-04-21.
  57. Interviews by Gary Garson and Peter Schultz, translations by J. Grym, additional notes by Mape Ollila. Maailman metalli: Australia. Article about Australian metal today in the biggest Finnish metal site Imperiumi.Net (in Finnish).
  58. Opprobrium. Tartarean Desire. Open Publishing. Retrieved on 2007-12-19. “One final note about the band, they are Christian-oriented, making Australian religious thrash band Mortification a close match. Opprobrium/Incubus lyrics aren’t preachy, but do make numerous favorable references to Christianity and God.”
  59. Downey, Ryan J.. Living Sacrifice. All Music Guide. Retrieved on 2007-12-11.
  60. Rivadavia, Eduard. Crimson Thorn. All Music Guide. Retrieved on 2007-12-11.
  61. daRonco, Mike. Embodyment. All Music Guide. Retrieved on 2007-12-11.
  62. DaRonco, Mike. Extol - Burial. All Music Guide. Retrieved on 2007-12-11.
  63. Jeffries, Vincent. Extol - Undeceived. All Music Guide. Retrieved on 2007-12-11.
  64. MusikkOpp-ned oppnedkors! (Norwegian). Morgenbladet. Oslonett (1995-02-06). Retrieved on 2007-12-19.
    EvilVasp. Horde - Hellig Usvart. Necromancy. Open Publishing. Archived from the original on 2008-02-11. Retrieved on 2007-12-19.
  65. Morrow, Matt. Horde - Hellig Usvart. The Whipping Post. Open Publishing. Retrieved on 2007-12-19.
  66. Eithun, Bård G. "Faust" (1990–1993, correct date unknown). Mayhem Interview. Orcustus zine. Retrieved on 2007-08-29.
  67. Morrow, Matt. Antestor - The Defeat of Satan. The Whipping Post. Retrieved on 2007-12-19.
  68. Hottenbacher, Dirk (2005-05-26). Vaakevandring (German). CrossOver. Open Publishing. Retrieved on 2007-12-13.
  69. Kemman, Max (2004-04-1010). Antestor. Jesus Metal. Open Publishing. Retrieved on 2007-12-13.
  70. Seventh Avenue Biography. Vampire Magazine. Retrieved on 2007-12-19.
    Sharpe-Young, Garry. Seventh Avenue Biography. Rock Detector. Retrieved on 2007-12-19.
    Sharpe-Young, Garry. Seventh Narnia Biography. Rock Detector. Retrieved on 2007-12-19.
    Narnia Biography. Tartarean Desire. Retrieved on 2007-12-19.
  71. Balance of Power Biography. Tartarean Desire. Retrieved on 2007-12-19.
    Henn, Ralf (2005-06-22). Jacobs Dream - Drama of Ages. The Metal Observer. Retrieved on 2007-12-19.
    Silvyera, Marcelo. Magnitude Nine - Chaos Control. Progressive World. Retrieved on 2007-12-19.
    Theocracy Biography. Prog Archives (December 2003). Retrieved on 2007-12-19.
  72. Melzer, Alexander (2000–2007). Veni Domine - Fall Babylon Fall. The Metal Observer. Open Publishing. Retrieved on 2007-09-09.
  73. Spencer, John (1999-08-14). Ashen Mortality - Your Caress. The Phantom Tollbooth. Open Publishing. Retrieved on 2007-09-08.
  74. Panagiotou, Kostas. Paramaecium. Retrieved on 2007-09-08.
  75. Quispel, Aldo. Ashen Mortality. Retrieved on 2007-09-08.
  76. Vanderpoel, David (1997). Eric Clayton Talks. Deus Ex Machina. Retrieved on 2007-09-08.
  77. Undish Biography. Tartarean Desire. Open Publishing (2005-04-30). Retrieved on 2007-09-17.
    Ncromance. Pleitegeier Records. Retrieved on 2007-09-22.
  78. Jonsson, Johannes (1997–1998). News 1997. The Metal For Jesus!. Retrieved on 2007-09-29. “Kohllapse is, at last, receiving major label interest!! (1997-12-18); "Congrats to Kohllapse on obtaining Nuclear Blast America for its distributor." (1998-03-05); "Kohllapse recently inked a distribution deal with Nuclear Blast USA.. unfortunately, they also, again, lost their bassist, Bevan Carroll, and are now seeking bassists.." (1998-02-26)”
    St. Laurent, Neil (1996). Kohllapse - Kohllapse and interview with Ro. Tracks of Creation #9. Retrieved on 2007-09-29.
    Morrow, Matt (HM Magazine) (2005). Kohllapse - Distant Mind Alternative (Re-Issue). The Whipping Post. Retrieved on 2007-09-29.
  79. Figgis, Alex (1999-10-01). Mortal. Cross Rhythms. Open Publishing. Retrieved on 2007-10-13. “Nothing rivals such true genre classics as 'Neplusultra", 'Rift' or the phenomenal 'Bright Wings'. Truly a musical milestone any industrial dance/rock/metal fan would appreciate.”
    Mortal. Automatapedia webzine. Open Publishing (2007). Retrieved on 2007-10-13.
    Torreano, Bradley (2007). Circle of Dust - Circle of Dust. All Music Guide. Retrieved on 2007-10-13.
  80. Harris, Chris and Wiederhorn, Jon (2007-06-01). As I Lay Dying Get Sick of Metalcore. MTV. Retrieved on 2007-09-08.
  81. Rivadavia, Eduardo. Extol - The Blueprint Dives. All Music Guide. Retrieved on 2007-12-21.
  82. Extol nominated for Norway's Grammy (Finnish). Smack the Jack (2000-08-01). Retrieved on 2007-12-21.
  83. Thorkildsen, Joakim (2006-01-03). Her er 2005s beste plater (Norwegian). Dagbladet. Retrieved on 2007-12-21.
  84. Figgis, Alex (2000-08-01). Impellitteri - Impellitteri. Cross Rhythms. Retrieved on 2007-12-21.
  85. Bloodgood reunites. Wise Men Promotions (2007-02-26). Retrieved on 2007-02-28.
  86. Stryper's Tim Gaines: 'God is doing great things in these last days'. Blabbermouth (2002-12-08). Retrieved on 2007-12-21.
  87. Heaven's Metal Re-launches As A Fanzine. Phantom Tollbooth. Open Publishing (2004-10-04). Retrieved on 2007-10-13.
  88. MacKenzie, Wilson. P.O.D. Biography. All Music Guide. Retrieved on 2007-10-13.
  89. As I Lay Dying Receives Grammy Nomination. Punk TV (2007-12-06). Retrieved on 2007-12-19.
  90. Caustic (2007-12-06). As I Lay Dying album chart international!. Heavy Metal Music Dot Biz. Retrieved on 2007-12-19.
  91. Christian Metal receives Recognition. Indie Vision Music. Retrieved on 2007-12-19.
  92. Johnson, Wesley. Revolver on Christian metal. Buzz Grinder. Retrieved on 2007-12-19. “The cover of the latest Revolver Magazine features members of As I Lay Dying, Norma Jean, Underoath and Demon Hunter. The photo goes along with an extensive write-up on Christian Metal, which they’ve dubbed “phenomenon of the year.””
  93. Feniak, Jenny. Slayer likes bad-boy image. Retrieved on 2007-01-26.
  94. Smit, Jackie (2006-08.07). CoC chats with Ralph Santolla of Deicide. Chronicles of Chaos. Retrieved on 2007-01-26.
  95. Holtz, Adam R.. Lights in a Loud Place. Plugged in Online.
  96. McKeon, Therese. Linkin Park: One Step Closer.
  97. Yusko, Alan and Prior, Ed. The Music of Devils in the CHURCH!!!. Bible Believers. Retrieved on 2007-10-21.
  98. Van Pelt, Doug. What Cannibal Corpse says, Interview with George Corpsegrinder Fisher. HM Magazine. Retrieved on 2007-10-21.
  99. Koskinen, Kimmo K.. Callisto Interview (Finnish). Rockmusica. Retrieved on 2007-10-21.
  100. Morrow, Matt (HM Magazine journalist) (2001-08-27). Virgin Black. The Whipping Post. Retrieved on 2007-09-27.

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