Dusting off some old classics…
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 and 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 Leppard. 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 metal 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, Deliverance, 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”!