Many consider heavy metal to be the Devil’s music, and with bands like Ghost or Mayhem, who can blame them. However, there’s a scene within this scene that replaced the traditional heavy metal themes and glorifies what most of the metal scene is fighting against – Christianity. These bands are often labeled Christian metal or white metal, though they belong to diverse genres like thrash metal, metalcore, power metal or even black metal. Even though many musicians like Dave Mustaine, Blackie Lawless or even Tom Araya of Slayer (I know, right) identify as Christians, this list covers the bands that glorify Christianity through their lyrics.
This Swedish power metal act was named after the famous fictional world of Narnia from the literary series “The Chronicles of Narnia”. The band’s music features a lot of neoclassical elements and all the usual power metal tropes, while their lyrics covering a mixture of Narnia-inspired tales and lyrics glorifying Christianity. The band disbanded in 2010, only to reunite four years later.
August Burns Red
Formed in 2003, August Burns Red is an American metalcore act and multiple Grammy nominee. The band members identify themselves as a Christians while trying not to be too evangelical but letting Christianity shine through their songs. And even though they insist their band is not Christian metal, their lyrics still have an overt Christian quality.
Another band on the list that doesn’t identify themselves as Christian Metal, their lyrics are strongly inspired by Christian Faith and the Bible. The band’s music was a fusion of death and thrash metal in their early days, resembling acts like Pestilence or Death, while their later works incorporated various experimental and classical influences.
The Devil Wears Prada
Hailing from Ohio, The Devil Wears Prada was formed back in 2005. Even though the band’s name is often linked to the movie starring Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway, it actually references the name of the 2003 book that inspired it. It also reflects the band’s religious and anti-materialistic beliefs, claiming that we’re all equal before God when the Last Judgement comes.
Listening to Mortification you’d probably mistake their lyrics for the typical war and violence tropes used by similarly brutal bands like Grave or Carcass. However, underneath all that growling is a strong Christian message, as all the band’s lyrics are written from a personal, religious point of view. Still, that fact does not diminish their brutality, and with fourteen albums under their belt Mortification are still going strong.
Another Scandinavian band on the list, Extol hails from Norway and was formed in 1993. The band is instantly recognizable for their unique blend of thrash, death, progressive and black metal genres coupled with lyrics reflecting the band’s religious beliefs. The band boasts over half a million albums sold worldwide and are currently on hiatus.
This old-school heavy metal act was formed in 1989 in Los Angeles, California and boasts a creative music style encompassing everything from technical thrash metal and neoclassical style to world music influences like flamenco. They have released eight albums and currently go under the name The Tourniquet Ark after the departure of singer Luke Easter.
Horde / Antestor
These two bands share credit for being the first Christian metal bands in then growing black metal movement. Horde is widely considered the first unblack metal, the term itself a play on words referring to the phrase “Darkthrone play unholy black metal”, twisting it into holy unblack (translated into Norwegian as “Hellig Usvart”, the name of Horde’s debut).
However, the leader of this one-man band Anonymous (Jayson Sherlock) claims that Antestor should be considered the first unblack metal band, even though their debut leaned more towards doom metal. Previously known as Crush Evil, Antestor was in Euronymous’ corsair as he issued a threat to the band via Orcustus fanzine. However, since he was murdered by Varg Vikernes he didn’t get the chance to fulfill those threats.
Moving away from black metal and into the more optimistic realms of power metal, the ideal backdrop for uplifting Christian lyrics. However, what’s specific about Theocracy is that the band playing traditional European power metal in the vein of Edguy comes from the United States, the place where this genre does not enjoy nearly the same amount of popularity as in the old world. What started out as a one-man project led by Matt Smith evolved into a band with four albums under their belt. Theocracy masterfully weaves their Christian beliefs into poetic lyrics. Look no further than “I Am” for evidence.
California-based Stryper are THE Christian metal band. Whenever anybody says Christian metal or White metal, Stryper are likely the first thing that comes to mind. What separates Stryper from most of the bands on this list is they were very proactively Christian, frequently handing copies of the Bible into the audience at live shows. The band has achieved platinum and gold sales status several times. They disbanded in 1992, but reunited in 2003. Their latest album “God Damn Evil” is due on April 20, 2018 via Frontiers Records.