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Dusting off some old classics…

April 2, 2008

One of my friends on Last.fm (gotta give a shout out to an invaluable resource on new hard rock/metal, Hardrockhideout.com!!) was listening to Believer yesterday.  I’ve been listening to so much new heavy metal and hard rock that I realized it had been a very, very long time since I listened to some Classic Christian Metal.

Some might know my story, some might not.  Hope you don’t mind if I take some time to tell it again.

I started cutting my teeth on music in general in 6th or 7th grade.  I never quite found my niche though.  In 8th grade a friend of mine let me listen to “5150” by Van Halen 5150and I was absolutely hooked!  What was this stuff of melodic goodness and why does it stir my soul so profoundly?  I knew I needed more music like Van Halen and I needed it quick.  So started my journey into the wonderful musical world of 1980’s heavy metal, also known as hair metal, glam metal, speed metal, thrash metal or any of the other 100 monikers it is now known by.

 I delved into bands such as Ratt and Kiss and Cinderella and White Lion.  I couldn’t go long without listening to Metallica or Tesla or Dokken or Savatage or AC/DC or Def PyromaniaLeppard.  This new music infused itself into my soul in such a way that is very hard to describe.   I guess it is the same for every young teen; the music helps define who you are and creates some kind of stability at time when every thing is chaotic.  I don’t know, but all I can say is that life without music would’ve been the complete worst scenario for me!  My friends and I would hang out and just listen to music; sometimes we’d talk about stuff, but mostly we’d just listen and read our Metal Edge magazines.

The years of high school started and of course, my hair got longer!  Man, to this day I still wish I had my long hair!  I yearn for it in a very weird way I still don’t understand…

Anyways, I digress!  Time passed and I finally heard about this band named Stryper.  Ok, please insert your bumble bee jokes here and be done with them!  Stryper had all the Soldiers Under Commandmetal qualifications I needed: awesome guitar solos and big hair.  But what was that under their name on the album cover?  Isaiah 53:5?  A Bible verse?  Wait, these guys don’t sing the typical metal anthem of party ’til you puke, let’s all just have a good time!  You are telling me that Jesus loves me in a way that I can understand?  Wait another minute here…

Yes Stryper was flamboyant in their yellow and black spandex.  They had big hair and earings.  But I could relate to that.  This metal music touched my soul in a new way…..made me think about bigger things than just having a good time.  God wants to know me in a personally?  He actually came to earth in Jesus to show how much He was willing to sacrifice for that relationship with me?  He loves my no matter what I’ve done?

Even though I was 15 or 16, these questions started to really get into my head.  I wanted to know more about this Jesus and why He wanted to die on a cross for me.  Eventually I did meet Him in a very real way and became a Christ follower. 

Things changed a bit, but my love for metal music could not be set aside.  You know, if you are a metalhead, the music is part of who you are and will never be removed!  I’ll be 100 years old still listening to heavy metal!! 

Instead of listening to music that was all about partying, I found the fledgling music scene of Christian heavy metal!  The late 80’s found bands like the above mentioned Believer, Extraction from MoralityDeliverance, Bloodgood, Vengeance Rising, X-Sinner,One Bad Pig and many, many more releasing great albums to give kids alternatives to listening to “secular” music.

I latched onto this music scene like a man needing oxygen.  These Christian bands became my very life blood.  (just now as I’m typing this Stryper’s song, Soldiers Under Command started on my iPod and I knew what song it was the very first milli-second it started!).   The metal music was phenomenal and the lyrics helped me grow closer to Jesus. 

I still had my hair long and still wore the standard rocker uniform of blue jeans and concert shirts, but I started attending a church to help me learn more about God.  I was involved with their youth group and right away I was told heavy metal was of the devil and blah blah blah!  All the anti-metal rhetoric was played to the fullest!  We even watched videos that played the records backwards and it “proved” that these rock bands were trying to get us to do drugs.  Iron Maiden’s Number of Beast was lambasted as pure satan worship.  AC/DC was an acronym for “Anti-Christ/Devil Children” and that Kiss was an acronym for “Kids In Satan’s Service”.

Oy!  I still have to shake my head these many years later! I’m sad to say that I did give up almost all my “secular” music and listened to strictly “Christian” music for many, many moons.

Fast forward to years later.  I’m older, wiser, fatter.  Things have changed, and changed for the better.  I still love Jesus and He is more precious to me than 20 years ago.  I think I’ve woken up to the counterfeit Christian culture that abounds in America though.  Society has their “thing” and then Christians make a poor copy of it, slap the name “Christian” on it and sell it to sucker believers. (Testamints, anyone?)

I haven’t listened to Christian music in about two years now.  Nothing new, nothing original.  But when I saw Believer being listened to, it brought back a lot of memories.

I made a playlist on my iPod today and named it “Classic Christian Metal”.  I included bands like Barren Cross, Vengeance Rising, Xalt, Deliverance, Haven, Sacrament, Whitecross, One Bad Pig, Sacred Warrior, Recon and X-sinner.  It has been fun reminiscing about the “good ‘ol days”! 

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4 Comments
  1. April 15, 2008 4:05 pm

    Lemme get this out of the way… The reason for the late comment is that Safari for some odd reason didn’t let me know about all these blog updates!!

    Dude!! You weren’t kidding that one time you said we’re practically in the same musical mold! All, and I mean ALL of the albums you pictured here are classics in my tape collection (or memory). (I even met Vengeance Rising, during their Human Sacrifice tour, at the Cornerstone 88 festival in IL.) The first tape I ever bought when I was a little teen was VH’s 5150 album (the second tape was Iron Maiden’s “Somewhere In Time”). I have fond memories of the Believer “Extraction” and Vengeance Rising “Sacrifice” albums… oh and the “Pyromania” album of course; in fact, I think I wore all these tapes out!

    When I accepted Christ in my life, yes I was bombarded the same way you were… although the church in question that I was attending was not a good one, in the sense that they acted “cultish”. I was suckered into throwing out most of my old secular collection when I was around 15. However, (I remember this and my feelings vividly) I didn’t have the heart to part with some real secular classics. I just had too much respect for the music, not the lyrics! Probably the budding musician in me. 😀

    Yeah, I have a separate Christian Rock and Metal genre listing on the trusty iPod. I never got into One Bad Pig (I think it was too punkish for me; I started to respect punk later in life), and I didn’t listen to Xalt, Haven, Sacrament, or X-Sinner. Buuuut, I love Barren Cross, Deliverance and Sacred Warrior and Whitecross’ first album (“Nooo waaaay I’m…. goin’ down!!”…. most memorable!) and yes, of course, good ol’ Stryper. Remember Holy Soldier? I miss hearing their first album! Of course, there’s Rob Rock and Theocracy today, and a handful of others, to keep the flame alive.

    Maybe I’ll make a similar entry on my blog soon, now that I just made a blog entry within your blog entry! Sorry about that. Ok. I’ll stop now! 😀

  2. April 15, 2008 4:21 pm

    A brief aside about Sacred Warrior… When I lived in Illinois, the band lived very close to where I lived. I met and talked to the keyboardist, Rick Macias (I believe his name was), at my local mall. The lead singer, Ray, was dating a female friend of mine while she was still attending the high school I was going to. (she and her family were listed on the thank you’s of the first album and I think the second one too.) Of course I got to talk to him at length as well. Nice guys as you’d expect!

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