The ten best Christian metal bands of all time

Categories: Lists, Metal!

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Over the years, Christian metal bands have played in a variety of styles, from death metal to metalcore to '80s metal. Some artists in this realm often wish that critics and fans would focus less on the religious aspect -- claiming it detracts from the music -- while others embrace the Christian themes expressed in their songs. The result is a sound that you might never guess is based on a love for Jesus. Keep reading for a rundown of the ten best Christian metal bands of all time.

See also: The ten geekiest metal bands of all time

Zao
Zao began in the early '90s in West Virginia and rose to become one of the loudest, emerging bands in the metalcore scene. With a heavy Christian theme, the band's early albums were inspired by religious imagery and were heavily faith based. Yet, as time progressed, and the band's line up changed, this influence became less and less tangible in the act's music, especially since none of the original line up remains in the band. The outfit's seminal 20014 album, The Funeral of God, has been its most well known effort to date. The group has toured on the Warped Tour and alongside other bands such as Misery Signals, Unearth, Dillinger Escape Plan and Shadows Fall. Also be sure to check out the more abrasive, darker and mysterious album eighth, 2006's The Fear is what Keeps us Here, produced by iconic musical engineer Steve Albini.

Believer
This thrash metal band from Pennsylvania was always reluctant to label themselves as a Christian band, even though the lyrics had been primarily faith based, early on in the band's career. Along with groups such as Cynic, Pestilence and other similar death metal bands, Believer's emphasis on Thrash metal truly made them a different breed among other extreme metal bands. With origins on the East Coast in the mid '80s, the act disbanded in 1994, but has reunited with an evolved sound, one that fuses elements of experimental rock, classical, symphonic and even operatic metal. Believer's lyrics have often dealt with themes from the Bible, and personal struggles with religious faith. Be sure to listen to 2009's Gabriel, and 2011's Transhuman, and then contrast the sound with the band's early releases, such as 1991's Sanity Obscure.

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51 comments
seraphim_falconus
seraphim_falconus

Lol, all of the anti-theists whining that Christians are playing with their toys.

Anyway, you overlooked Demon Hunter. Here's a song that begins with the sound of a Satanist bible being torn up:

http://youtu.be/yvSNYSzASww

MileHighMessianic
MileHighMessianic

Good stuff. I'll agree with Christopher here, there are a lot of bands missed. Including some more recent and active like Decyfer Down and Red. Not to mention a revamped Skillet lineup.

christopheracallaway
christopheracallaway

Ha! Good job, Alex. Although I have to say that Bloodgood, Barren Cross, Jerusalem and Resurrection Band should have been mentioned, at least in passing. I'll post my reasons in a minute.

christopheracallaway
christopheracallaway

Alex,

Thanks for posting this piece. As someone who would eat and breathe Christian metal and worked in the industry briefly as both a journalist and marketing specialist, I appreciate this greatly.

I would say however, that there are four bands that should at least deserve a mention: Bloodgood, Barren Cross, Jerusalem and Resurrection Band. Oh, and there are others like Holy Soldier, Guardian and the list goes on...but I'll refrain.

Bloodgood- their 1987 album, Detonation, was an onslaught of heaviness and spectacular delivery. They even provided a mini two-song Easter rock opera. Vocalist Les Carlsen cut his teeth as a Broadway musical professional in Hair! And it showed through. Oz Fox of Stryper fame is currently in the band and they are working on a new disc. Michael Bloodgood is also a truly kind person and deserves all the accolades that the band that carries his name can receive.

Barren Cross- yes there are the obvious Iron Maiden comparisons but this band easily held their own with blistering power metal tunes and huge hooks. They had the MTV coverage, were label mates with Stryper and deserved the support. 1986's Atomic Arena, produced my John and Dino Elephante (John sang briefly for Kansas) was groundbreaking and still remains a solid masterpiece if the genre.

Jerusalem- Sweden's Jerusalem were one of the original Christian metal bands and started releasing records on the late '70s. Guitarist, vocalist and songwriter, Ulf Christiansson oozed emotion on the stage and on record. Perhaps it's from hanging out with Bono at the Greenbelt Festival in the early '80s. Warrior (1982) and Prophet (1994) stand out amazingly well as trademark albums. Their mix of classic hard rock, pop metal, and atmospheric almost-prog soundscapes was unique. And they are still at it.

Resurrection Band- sometimes called Rez or Rez Band, they also effectively started the Christian metal genre in the late '70s. They had great album production, great-sounding shows and wrote not only evangelistic songs but social and political tunes as well. They lived in a Christian community in Chicago that fed and cared for the homeless. And their songs were polished while gritty. They mixed heavy blues, power chord-laden hard rock, and even covered songs by the Who, Blind Faith, and Jefferson Airplane. Rez ended several years ago but vocalist/guitarist Glenn Kaiser continues on with the Glenn Kaiser Band.

Many of the bands on the original posted list had a lot of exposure due to the now-defunct Cornerstone Festival. The yearly "alternative" Christian rock festival was truly groundbreaking and at its height, boasted over 20,000 attendees.

Enough said. Thanks for reading.

KeithRamone
KeithRamone

whitecross, trouble, p.o.d. are 3 more good ones.

Joel Storin
Joel Storin

I can't even believe that is a category....Will they have Top Ten Satin would rock out to next?

Brendan Flynn
Brendan Flynn

I'll stick with Arch Enemy, Ghost BC, God Forbid, Fragments of Unbecoming, Immolation, Type O Negative, The Haunted, Slayer, Down, Epica, Nightwish, Cannibal Corpse, Shadows Fall, Therion, Behemoth, Mercyful Fate the one "Christian metal" band I do like, Demon Hunter..

Matt Baca
Matt Baca

Westword should just call a spade a spade and title all their articles, 'Top Ten Click Through Articles To Generate Ad Revenue.'

Betel Eli Guese
Betel Eli Guese

I have a cousin who is a priest. That enjoyed twisted sister

Neil Jacobson
Neil Jacobson

If I had a Christian rock band the name would be... Praying Mantis!!

Phil Knight
Phil Knight

If he has any real taste in music, he'll listen to Slayer like the rest of us heathens!

Ozzie Perch
Ozzie Perch

lame... guys, get a life, really it's not that bad!

Josh Yohosh
Josh Yohosh

Whats really comical is the absolute ignorance of quite a few people wasting their energy on even commenting their narrow minded moronic views about this article. With that being said, I'm disappointed Living Sacrifice didn't make the list.

Jeffrey Grubesic
Jeffrey Grubesic

Christian metal IS a joke!! Matter of fact, any music that starts with Christian, sucks ass! I'll put any ONE Black Sabbath album up against all Christian metal albums combined. Winner: Black Sabbath ten times out of ten!

Ryan Davis
Ryan Davis

Yes, I do. Metal is about rebelling. You know, what Satan and those two naked "white" people did? It's ironic how many Christians grew up listening to Deicide, Slayer, Bad Religion and various black metal groups. Atheists and Satanists don't call metal evil. Christians do.

teababe27
teababe27

I might have to check some of these bands out. I would also include Threshold, Theocracy, and Powerwolf (kinda).

Ryan Wright
Ryan Wright

Music about the imaginary man in the style of Metal. Que the favorite song"God hates fags"

Mel Ćurković
Mel Ćurković

As I lay dying... You know, before the singer tried to hire a hitman on his wife.

Anthony Anrig
Anthony Anrig

Fuck that shit. Black Metal all the way. Christian "metal" is no different then South Parks Sarcastaball. Dudes responsible for the ozone layer holes from the sheer amount of CFC's in their aquanet screaming about how much they love jesus while wearing spandex etc isnt metal, it's downright creepy. Hank hill said it best: "You're not making christianity any better, you're just making rock n roll worse".

Valerie Cates
Valerie Cates

Stryper kinda sold out on their "Christian Values" a bit when they had their sophmore album come out and had a video with the classic half naked video vixens etc. I guess P.O.D., Flyleaf, and Red aren't really metal but I think they are awesome bands, Christian or not. And believe or not, Even ICP has been pulling out some Christian lyrics. It doesn't matter to me what their religious preference is, if I think they are awesome, I'll go see them. I am a pagan and have always been and I go to Heavenfest just to see some great bands.

Pete Copeland
Pete Copeland

"Phpt! All the best bands are affiliated with Satan."- Bart Simpson

Judy A Styres
Judy A Styres

Jethro Tull writes some awesome christian music :)

Justin Vonesh
Justin Vonesh

Ya no I dont support bigots. I swear the world would be a better place without christianity.

Nick Green
Nick Green

Wow John are you offended that someone has an opinion? Grow up.

Foster Wygant
Foster Wygant

I disagree. Hair metal sucks and this stuff is just downright comical. #douchebag

Matt C. Salyer
Matt C. Salyer

To all their own... Whatever makes you happy. #athiest

Tim Mansour
Tim Mansour

I was way into Demon Hunter back in the day!

seraphim_falconus
seraphim_falconus

@MileHighMessianic RED isn't considered metal. Even though they're touring with Demon Hunter in August (can't wait). Skillet's also not metal.

Truly, it's a travesty to have left DH out of this list. They're the main Christian metal act of the modern age; the dons of the scene.

stanley1
stanley1

I bet you love to use the word "Islamophobe", though.

jwallick35
jwallick35

Seriously! That's the one band I was looking for on this list. Trouble is classic Doom/Sludge metal!

seraphim_falconus
seraphim_falconus

Get back into them! Their new album, Extremist, is their best yet (Death, Gasoline, I Will Fail You, Helpless Hope, In Time). And they're touring with RED (I can't wait to hear the violins live).

seraphim_falconus
seraphim_falconus

The main modern Christian metal act, not on a list of Christian metal. It's like not including the Beatles on a list of British pop bands from the 70s.

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