Attempting to hit on the sound of guitar slingers like Van Halen and George Lynch, Angelica went for a more glam-sounding singer, similar to Mark Slaughter. The original vocalist was replaced by Rob Rock and Dennis Cameron had this to say about the band: “Angelica started as a vision that I had for an ideal band full of believer musicians”. The band hit the power ballad fans and those who like a skillful guitarist, but never went much farther than that outside of the Christian Metal market.
A metal band that was formed in Los Angeles in 1983 by Two high school friends; Lead Guitarist Ray Parris and Drummer Steve Whitaker had an ad in a local paper looking for a singer. At the same time; Lead Singer Michael Drive (Lee) had an ad in a local paper looking for a guitarist! Steve then drove to Michael’s house, where he called Ray and had Michael sing into the phone! As soon as they met and played together, the chemistry instantly formed; and two weeks later after many rehearsals with bass players, Michael met Bassist Jim LaVerde; and the rest is history! After recording 6 songs for two demos during 1983 and 1984, “the fires had begun” to burn – to record their first album. The band came close to sounding like Iron Maiden at times and originally was a bit heavier than their contemporaries “Stryper”. They had their biggest success with Atomic Arena which also saw the band get airplay on MTV. They followed it up with another great album called State Of Control”. For my money, these guys were the best of the Christian metal era. The band still reunites occasionally as has recorded several albums after their initial success was over.
In 1989 Believer released their debut album, Extraction from Mortality. Mixing progressive metal, thrash, death metal, and symphonic sounds, the band showed a willingness to experiment from the very beginning. Often considered one of the best of the heavier bands during this period, Believer quickly gained a loyal following. In 1990 they released their second album Sanity Obscure, followed by Dimensions in 1994. The band broke up soon after Dimensions was released, but has returned in recent years with new material.
These guys helped get the Christian metal movement going and still work together today. They have a decent discography that’s definitely rooted in Bible scripture and always seemed more interested in witnessing to their audience than many other bands of the genre. The band was never about trying to get a record deal and hit the “big time.” The main focus of Bloodgood was always to reach the lost with the Good News of Jesus Christ. Veterans of both the heavy metal and Christian rock scenes, Bloodgood’s unique blend of music and message has amassed both a fan base that appreciates their music, as well as a body that loves God. Michael Bloodgood sadly passed away in 2022 after suffering complications from a stroke.
Starting out with a little heavier sound than most of the overs, they switched their sound to appeal more to the hair metal crowd. Kinetic Faith was the beginning of a new era for Bride. It was an era of popularity and mild success. After working with producer Steve Griffith on the two new songs from End Of The Age, it was decided that he would produce Kinetic Faith too. Bride was ready to record another album with a new sound and a more technically proficient lineup. Kinetic Faith was to be recorded in a studio in Nashville called the Salt Mine. This is a studio where Amy Grant recorded her first few albums with Brown Bannister. Kinetic Faith was a complete departure from the music heard on Bride’s first three albums. It was more Rock ‘n’ Roll sounding – with a twist. The project did not turn out like the band wanted it to because of disagreements with producer Steve Griffith. In the end, the finished product was good enough to put Bride in the mainstream of Christian Music and to win them a DOVE Award for the song, Everybody Knows My Name. While they had some great metal albums, they changed their sound a little too often and ultimately never seemed to have a consistent sound.
Greg Chaisson played in the 80s metal band Badlands with former Ozzy Osbourne guitarist Jake E. Lee and KISS drummer Eric Singer. However, Gregg released a solo album It’s About Time in 1994 which also had Eric Singer on drums and Greg also played on albums by several other Christian metal bands including Die Happy and Red Sea.
Crystavox started out in 1989 and released their self-titled album in 1990. The band had a melodic metal sound that could have been comparable to 80s secular bands like Skid Row, Warrant, and Ratt. They would release a second album in 1992 called The Bottom Line.
David Zaffiro was the guitarist for the Christian metal band Bloodgood from 1984-1988. Zaffiro released four studio albums as a solo artist: The Other Side (1989)
In Scarlet Storm (1990), Surrender Absolute (1992), and Yesterday’s Left Behind (1994). Zaffiro left Bloodgood after their third album and besides a solo career, he has also produced many albums for other artists.
Formed in 1985 for those who like something a bit heavier, Deliverance provided it. Fans of Anthrax, Testament, and Slayer would probably like their sound. MTV had one of their videos in rotation on The Headbanger’s Ball, but fame outside of the Christian market seemed to elude them. They produced several good-quality albums.
Die Happy was formed in 1990 when members of the band Vengeance Rising left to form their own group. The band was rounded out by singer Robyn Kyle Basauri who had been the singer of the band Jaguar and Greg Chaisson who was the bass player for Badlands. The band released two studio albums Die Happy and Volume II before disbanding. Basauri and Chaisson would go on to form the band Red Sea.
Dreamer had two ex-members of the Daniel band, Bill Davidson (Bass) and (Dan McCabe Vocals, Bass, Keyboards) in their lineup along with Troy Cole (Drums),
Daniel McAffee Guitars (lead), Neil Charter Guitars (rhythm). The Canadian band only released one full-length studio album called “Full Metal Racket”.
Formed in 1984 the band comprised Phil St. Vincent Vocals, Bobby Smith Guitars, Fred Gustovson Bass and Scott Ernest Drums released only one full-length album entitled World Requiem in 1990 before calling it quits. However, they did release an album called Anthology that included the entire album plus live tracks and two demo EPs that were not commercially available before.
Fighter released two studio albums, The Waiting in 1991 and Bang The Drum in 1992. The band featured husband and wife, Jim and Amy Wolter, Sean Murphy, Billy Heller, and Mark Pence. The band has recently released The Fighter Demos album. Fighter was an under-rated band that made commercial-sounding hard rock and melodic metal.
This U.K. band released the album Warrior Of Light in 1988. I always thought the guy on the cover looked like Mel Gibson from the Mad Max movies. The band was a trio featuring G.B. Bennett Bass, Andy Jackson Drums, Vocals, and Charlie Wilson Guitars and vocals. It would be the band’s only album to be released. Their sound was traditional metal and probably appealed to fans of bands like Saint and early Bride the most.
Formed in 1989, this band from Houston Texas took a different approach mixing Beatlesque harmonies with thrash metal music. Comprised of members Monty Colvin
Ben Huggins, Alan Doss, and Dane Sonnier the band would release the albums Galactic Cowboys (1991), Space in Your Face (1993), Machine Fish (1996), Feel the Rage EP (1996),
The Horse That Bud Bought (1997) and At the End of the Day (1998). They would later release Let It Go (2000) and Long Way Back To The Moon in 2017.
Starting out as a more traditional metal band, Guardian soon changed vocalists and went for a more every man’s hard rock sound, along the lines of Tesla with a slightly more glam image and sound. Guardian was formed in 1982 under the name Fusion, by singer, Paul Cawley and bassist David Bach. The original band lineup also featured drummer Steve Martinez and guitarist Gene Thurston. Originally signed to Enigma Records, they wanted a more Christian-focused record label and asked to be released from their contract. Cawley left and the band brought in Jamie Rowe with a new sound and vocal style.
Haven released their debut album Your Dying Day in 1990. The band was an interesting mix of traditional metal, power metal, and some thrash elements. The band was comprised of Kevin Ayers Lead and backing Vocals, Rhythm Guitars, Tim Benton Drums, Percussion, Andy Bruner Lead and Rhythm Guitars, 12 String Acoustic, Classical Guitar, and Ed Bruner Bass. They would go on to release two more albums Age Of Darkness (1991) and Haven (1995).
When glam metal hit it big in the ’80s, many Christian metal bands went the same route. Holy Soldier had two really good albums before changing personnel and going in a more acoustic-based alternative. Holy Soldier is a band that has secured its position as one of the most important and identifiable bands in Christian rock & roll history. The group, which formed in Los Angeles in 1985, distilled so much of the music that had come before them and has exerted a decisive influence on so much that has come after. Very few artists and musicians in their genre have achieved that stature, and stand proudly among them. They looked the part and had a decent sound, but ultimately they just faded away like so many bands from the era.
This side project of Ez Gomer and Terry Haw from Leviticus was creative and mixed elements of heavy metal, electronics, and even rap. The band would not release another album until 2003 when they released Look At Death Now.
King James was a Christian metal supergroup of sorts with Robert Sweet and Tim Gaines of Stryper on drums and bass, Rex Carroll of Whitecross on guitar along with singer Jimi Bennett. They released their self-titled debut album in 1994. Sweet and Gaines would depart before the second album, The Fall was released in 1997. 2013 saw the band release the album maXimus with a new lineup around Carroll and Bennett.
Swedish band Leviticus came out with all guns blazing but never seemed to pull together a cohesive fanbase. Partially, because of the geographical location of the band and the cost of touring the U.S., they simply became a Christian bookstore metal band. Early albums had a symphonic metal sound to them, but the band gradually changed their sound over time. The band made their last live appearance in 2003.
Formed in 1989, this band from Little Rock Arkansas started out as more of death metal, thrash metal hybrid that would evolve their sound to incorporate more modern metal elements over time. The original lineup of the band comprised of Darren “D.J.” Johnson (bass, vocals), Bruce Fitzhugh (guitar), and Lance Garvin (drums) released their self-titled debut album in 1991. The band continued to release the following albums through 2013: Nonexistent, Inhabit, Reborn, The Hammering Process, Conceived in Fire, The Infinite Order, and Ghost Thief.
Magdallan was a Christian supergroup featuring the original lineup of Ken Tamplin, Lanny Cordola (House Of Lords), Brian Bromberg, and Ken Mary (House Of Lords, Alice Cooper). The lineup would change after the debut album with Phillip Bardowell replacing Ken Tamplin as vocalist and Chuck Wright (Quiet Riot, House Of Lords) joining on bass. The band released the albums Big Bang (1992) and Revolution Mind (1993). They changed their name to Magdalen and released the following albums under their new name: The Dirt (1995) Intense Records Magdalen (2007), and Pyschobabble (2013).
While the band originally formed way back in 1981, they didn’t release their debut album called New Birth until 1985. They released a pair of EPs but only released one more full-length studio album during this time period with Voices In The Night which was produced by Stryper’s Michael Sweet. The band would later go on to release Crack Of Dawn in 2007 and two albums in 2010, Fighter and Sea Of Black. Their latest release is the album When 2 Albums Collide was released in 2018.
From Allentown Pennsylvania, Messiah Prophet released their debut album Rock The Flock in 1984 which they would follow up in 1986 with Master Of The Metal. Their sound was traditional metal. The band went on a hiatus for ten years before releasing their final album Colors in 1996. The classic lineup of the band consisted of Charlie Clark Vocals (1981-1988, 1995), Andy Strauss Guitars (1982-1987), Rob Clark Guitars, Vocals (1982-1984), Brian Nicarry Guitars (1984-1987), David Thunder Drums (1985-1988), and, Joe Shirk Bass (1986-1988).
Hailing from Australia, the band started out as a traditional heavy metal band called Lightforce before changing their name to Mortification and becoming one of the earliest successful Christian Death Metal bands. The original lineup was Steve Rowe, Michael Carlisle on guitar, and Jayson Sherlock on drums. Considered legendary in the Christian Metal world for popularizing Extreme Christian Metal the band havs released 14 studio albums over the years: Mortification (1991)
Scrolls of the Megilloth (1992), Post Momentary Affliction (1993), Blood World (1994), Primitive Rhythm Machine (1995), EnVision EvAngelene (1996), Triumph of Mercy (1998), Hammer of God (1999), The Silver Cord is Severed (2001), Relentless (2002), Brain Cleaner (2004), Erasing the Goblin (2006), The Evil Addiction Destroying Machine (2009), and Realm of the Skelataur (2015).
Featuring the lineup of Michael Betts, David Raymond Reeves, Don Webster and Ed Ott, Neon Cross recorded two songs for a compilation album called California Metal to critical acclaim and then released their self-titled album the same year in 1988.
This classic metal band was comprised of Pam Scott vocals, rhythm guitars, Marge Curtner bass, backing vocals, Annette Cvengros lead guitars, backing vocals, and Terry Cvengros drums, backing vocals and featured a heavier side that many compared to Metallica and Megadeth with a female vocalist. Their self-titled debut album was launched in 1992 and was their only release.
Rage Of Angels
Rage of Angels featured Dan Mariano on lead vocals, Frank DiCostanzo on guitar, Greg Kurtzman on guitar, Dale Glifort on bass, and John Fowler on drums. The band released their only album, in 1989. Fans and critics loved the album but the band would soon split-up and go in different directions. Frank DiConstanzo and John Fowler would later go on to be members of the classic lineup of the band Steelheart.
Ransom released two studio albums, self-titled in 1991 and Soul Asylum in 1992. The band featured Randy Kantor, Lisa Faxon, Tony Ortiz, and Michael Ciado. with a hard rock and melodic metal sound they have been compared to secular bands like Heart, Lita Ford and Vixen.
Recon was another traditional heavy metal band that featured John Christianson drums, Mike Grato bass, George Ochoa lead, rhythm, and acoustic guitars, Vett Roberts lead vocals, and Eddie Starline rhythm guitars. Often compared to Queensryche they made quite a splash with their debut album Behind Enemy Lines. The band featured Deliverance guitarist George Ochoa and had a similar sound in many ways
After the demise of the band Die Happy, Red Sea was born featuring Robyn Kyle Basauri lead vocals, percussion, Chris Howell guitars, dobro, Greg Chaisson bass, and Jeff Martin drums. Both Greg Chaisson and Jeff Martin were previously band members of the hard rock band Badlands which featured former Ozzy Osbourne guitarist Jake E. Lee. Red Sea has often been compared to the same bluesy style of hard rock that Badlands had.
This short-lived band featured Rosanna Palmer on lead vocals and guitars, Dave Palmer on bass and backing vocals, and Johno Zaffarese on drums. The band hailed from Australia but mostly seemed to get showcased as a metal band, but were in fact a much lighter version of rock. They released two albums Calling Down Fire (1987) and Clothed In Fire (1988) before calling it quits.
Sacred Warrior is a Christian band that plays melodic, progressive hard rock/metal, reminiscent of Queensryche and Iron Maiden. The band was formed out of a general market metal band known as Nomad, which was formed in 1985. Subsequent to the conversion of guitarist Bruce Swift to Christianity, he led fellow band members, Tony Velasquez and Rey Parra. He also led Rick Macias, who had been a bouncer at a nightclub. Steve Watkins joined the band as bassist in 1988 and Sacred Warrior was formed. For those Christians who liked Queensryche, there was Scared Warrior. They were decent musicians and came out with several good albums but always seemed to be too much of a clone of Queensryche.
1984 saw the birth of Saint with the EP “Warriors Of The Son.” In 1986 the band signed a contract with Pure Metal Records and released its first full-length, “Time’s End.” With drummer, Mike Lowery out of the band just one week before recording, drummer Brian Willis is then hired (on loan from the band Quarter Flash) to perform on the album along with Josh Kramer (vocals), John Mahan (guitar), and Richard Lynch (bass). One of the early bands to hit the scene along with Leviticus and Bloodgood, they seemed to be closer to Judas Priest in sound and still bring the metal hammer down.
Ken Tamplin founded the band Shout in 1987 and the band went for the hair band look and sound. Their first album, “It Won’t Be Long”, was recorded by session musicians including future Megadeth guitarist Marty Friedman, House Of Lords guitarist, Lanny Cordola and Michael Angelo, guitarist for Nitro. While they racked some success in the Christian market, they never were able to go outside of it. Tamplin later worked with several members of the band House Of Lords on a few projects.
Sin Dizzy featured Stryper’s Oz Fox and Tim Gaines along with John Bocanegra and lead guitarist Bobby MacNeil. They released their only album He’s Not Dead, in 1998. If you were expecting Stryper’s sound, you were probably disappointed. Sin Dizzy leaned more toward the alternative/grunge style that was prevalent in the 90s, but most metal fans seemed surprised by the lack of true metal sound on this one. Guitarist Bobby MacNeil died in 2013.
This Texas band released their debut album First Strike in 1986. It featured the lineup of Ezekiel Vade Bass, Backing Vocals, Joey Knight Drums, Backing Vocals, Dale Streiker Guitars (lead), Vocals, Stephen Streiker Guitars, Vocals, and Keyboards. They had a unique look and rode the line between traditional heavy metal and glam. Thankfully, the debut album has since been remastered and re-released since the original was plagued with poor sound quality.
Established in southern California in 1983, multi-platinum crossover Christian metal band, Stryper, continues to share their positive message and energetic stage presence with a passionate following throughout the world. Since the band’s inception over 30 years ago, the founding members have stayed true to their deepest convictions, turning from “the ways of the world” and following their hearts instead. The members of Stryper have proven themselves as metal stalwarts, leaving an indelible mark on the genre with each new release. With such hits as “Calling On You,” “Free,” “Honestly,” and “Always There For You,” Stryper’s album sales now exceed over 10 million worldwide. Add to that one of the most successful Christian rock albums ever, 1986’s multi-platinum To Hell With The Devil, and the unique distinction of being the first band in history to notch two songs in MTV’s Top 10 with “Free” and “Honestly.” The band still delivers great albums and has actually developed a heavier sound in the later years. Like them or not, they’re the godfathers of Christian Metal.
1987 saw the release of the debut studio album The Coming Storm by Tempest. Their second album followed soon after with Eye Of The Storm in 1988.Tempest tried to combine heavy metal with melodic hard rock and was reasonably successful at it. The band featured Darren Lee, Jamie Rowe, Mikk Rowe, and Bobby Andrews. Jamie Rowe would later go on to be the singer in Guardian.
Being a truly original-sounding metal band wasn’t very easy in the ’80s. It was even harder for the Christian bands who often imitated the popular bands of the time. Tourniquet was not one of those bands and seemed to have a truly unique sound. Drummer Ted Kirkpatrick is an incredible musician and the band gets credit for forging their own path. Tourniquet was formed in Los Angeles in 1990 Nineteen albums later, the members of Tourniquet remained committed to creating intense music. Drummer and main songwriter Ted Kirkpatrick’s passion for classical music and technical metal found its way into many Tourniquet songs, resulting in their music being described as “Beethoven Meets Frankenstein”. As Tourniquet’s music blended elements of many different styles, two things stand out… melody and originality. Tourniquet was known as a “musician’s band” and appeared in Modern Drummer, Guitar World, and many other musician’s magazines. Sadly Ted Kirkpatrick passed away in 2022 from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, which ironically sounds like a Tourniquet song title.
Originally called Vengeance, the band changed its name to Vengeance Rising and released four studio albums. Originally the band consisted of Roger Martinez vocals, Larry Farkas guitar,
Doug Theime guitar, Roger Dale Martin bass, Glenn Mancaruso drums. The band was one of the early Christian Thrash Metal bands. However, the band was shrouded in controversy after singer Roger Martinez claimed to be an Atheist and made many controversial comments and remarks about Christians.
Formed in 1985 by singer Scott Wenzel and guitarist Rex Carroll sounding like the Christian version of Ratt helped these guys find an audience of fans who desperately wanted a Christian band that sounded like the secular bands that were dominating the airwaves. Whitecross could have been up there with Stryper in popularity, but never seemed to break out of just being a Christian band that you only knew about if you went to Christian bookstores.
Xalt was a traditional heavy metal band in the beginning but changed their style over time. The band consisted of Todd Gleason drums, Scott Doerfler vocals, Randy Carlson bass, and James Erdman guitars. Technically the band released four albums but most assumed that Under the Ruins (1990) was their debut. The band had previously released the album The Dark War in 1988. They would also release History (1991) and finally Helium Blue Gazebo (1997)
Another clone of a popular band was X-Sinner. They had the AC/DC sound pretty well and many fans were glad to have a Christian alternative. However, I’ve got to say that AC/DC’s sound was always about chasing women and such and it just doesn’t translate as well to Bible studies. Their debut album “Get It” was released on A&M records and on Pakaderm/Word records. Nominated for a Dove award and had three number-one singles and five top-ten singles.