I understand that some of my readers are probably not into the same music I enjoy. Rock and heavy metal aren’t everybody’s cup of coffee, and that’s totally fine with me. But given that my articles usually revolve around issues of morality, theology and politics, I think it’s time for me to break it up a little bit and talk about something different.
I’ve written previous articles about my critique of the Christian music industry and how rock and metal music has helped me in my darkest moments. Because of how music has played a significant role in my early life, I believe that it can be an amazing tool for evangelism. If the music is provocative and engaging enough, people will likely listen to it and enjoy it, and will most likely absorb whatever messages are in the lyrics.
But when it comes to Christian music, most of the bands and artists I’ve been exposed to were artistically suppressed and dulled down so much that it’s flat-out embarrassing. My understanding is most Christian record companies control the creative direction so as not to offend the majority of their target audience. This is why I’m a firm believer that the most beautiful and memorable art involves taking risks to capture the eyes (and ears) of the beholder.
So here is a list of 10 bands I gathered that are (in my opinion) amazing and comparable to most artists in the secular music industry…
1 – P.O.D.
Also known as Payable On Death, these guys from San Diego managed to fuse rap, metal and reggae influences simultaneously into their sound, making them a band that stands out in both the secular and the Christian music scenes. They’ve shared the stage with the likes of KoRn, Godsmack, Primus, Lacuna Coil and many others and are widely known to be highly appreciative of their fans, especially considering how much they advocate for the youth.
2 – LIVING SACRIFICE
Death metal band Living Sacrifice has a uniquely aggressive sound that very few Christian artists seem to possess. They are most comparable to the likes of Lamb of God (who is definitely NOT a Christian band), but they definitely stand out on their own quite well. With eight studio albums under their belt, there’s plenty of brutality to be tossed around.
3 – RED
Upon first listening, some would believe that Red is a carbon copy of Breaking Benjamin. Truth be told, Benjamin Burnley and lead-singer Michael Barnes were actually writing partners during production of Red’s 2009 album ‘Innocence & Instinct.’ But unlike Breaking Benjamin, Red has developed a unique style of their own with the use of symphonic orchestras and pop-inspired beat tracks.
4 – PROJECT 86
An alternative-metal act from Orange County, California; Project 86 doesn’t have a single song that sounds the same. Their style is intensely innovative, crunchy and…well….loud. These guys draw influences from artists like Tool and Sepultura, but manage to make their sound their own. Their sense of humor is especially evident in their music videos.
5 – DEMON HUNTER
Demon Hunter is the type of band you wouldn’t know was Christian unless somebody told you. Their dark lyrical and visual imagery seems to blend in well with bands that reflect satanic themes, but their intent is entirely different. Demon Hunter, in my opinion, is most comparable to Slipknot – although the ferocity of Ryan Clark’s vocals do not quite compete with the likes of Corey Taylor. But comparisons aside, Demon Hunter is a force to be reckoned with.
6 – ISLANDER
Ever since 2003, I felt like nu-metal was a dying genre, but these guys have certainly proven me wrong. Drawing influences from bands like Deftones and P.O.D., Islander can be best described as the familiar sounds of late-90’s nu-metal breathed with a new and youthful energy.
7 – LOVE & DEATH
Lead singer Brian “Head” Welch is one of the founding members of KoRn, one of the bands that sparked the nu-metal genre in the early 90’s. In 2005, Welch became a Christian and took a hiatus to start up his own solo project, which lead to the formation of his band Love & Death – which is everything you’d expect from KoRn, but with a different message and approach.
8 – BECOMING THE ARCHETYPE
Although this band went through a few lineup changes over the years, I’ve always admired their Kirk Hammett-inspired harmonies and their apocalyptic riffs. These guys have even gone as far as creating their own rendition of the classic hymn ‘How Great Thou Art.’ Just don’t ever consider showing this to your church-going grandmother.
9 – LEAH
As a stay-at-home mother and recording artist, LEAH best describes herself as the heavy metal version of Enya. Her ethereal sound harbors Tolkien-inspired themes with tracks that range from the peaceful sounds of nature and familiar homeland to the ominous thunder of war. With Testament’s guitarist Eric Peterson lending his guitar sound on her studio albums, LEAH’s music is an absolutely beautiful addition to anybody’s music collection – metal and non-metal fans alike.
10 – THEOCRACY
For those of you who enjoy a little power-metal, Theocracy is (so far) the closest a Christian metal band gets to the likes of Sonata Arctica and Iced Earth that I’ve found. Their high-pitched vocals and riveting guitar riffs pair nicely with their themes of epic voyages and discovering your identity on life’s journey.
Got any favorite Christian bands that don’t suck? Share them in the comments below!