7 Bands You Didn’t Know Were Christian

If your knowledge of Christian rock doesn’t extend beyond the mid-1980s pioneering Christian glam metal band Stryper and their classic shout-along "To Hell With the Devil," well then, prepare to have your mind blown. Despite having literally hundreds of thousands of dedicated fans, much Christian rock, metal, and industrial music exists well outside the mainstream of Top 40 music. Then again, maybe that’s not such a bad thing. So who are these bands and artists? What do they sound like? And most importantly, do they truly rock? Here are seven bands who have pushed the genre of so-called Christian music to its extremes and beyond.

  1. KLANK:

    In 1995, KLANK released their debut Still Suffering on the highly regarded Seattle-based Christian rock label Tooth & Nail. Thanks to the success of that album, KLANK went on to build a large and loyal fan base through constant touring and intense yet groove-centric performances. Their sound combines the industrial electronics of pioneering such as Front 242 and KMFDM with the stop-and-start grind of thrash metal. KLANK’s latest self-released album Urban Warfare was released on June 12, 2012. The lyrics deal with war, suicide, and the desensitizing effect the media has on society. King’s X lead singer and bassist Doug (dUg) Pinnick lends his vocals to the album’s (relatively) calm final track "Something About You."

  2. King’s X:

    You cannot deny King’s X, an honest-to-goodness power trio that combines the virtuosity of progressive rock with the aggression of grunge (Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament once said, "King’s X invented grunge!"). Despite changes to the trio’s lineup, King’s X’s music and lyrics have always dealt with spiritual issues, and their earlier recordings were released on contemporary Christian labels. After lead singer and bassist Doug (dUg) Pinnick came out as a gay man in a 1998 interview, several Christian bookstores refused to continue stocking and selling King’s X’s albums. However, Pinnick and his fellow bandmates, Ty Tabor on lead guitar and Jerry Gaskill on drums, continue to enjoy successful recording and touring careers both as solo artists and as King’s X.

  3. Oh, Sleeper:

    Here’s another band with a truly heavy sound that requires not one, but two lead vocalists, Micah Kinard, who screams his head off, and Shane Blay, who croons without fear over the band’s apocalyptic riffs. Oh, Sleeper’s last two albums, Son of Morning and Children of Fire are both old school concept records with lyrics that describe Satan, the rapture, and man’s search for God. If you really want your mind blown, download the band’s iPhone and iPod Touch Game "Stand Your Ground" and do battle with an army of demons while enjoying the arcade-style, 8-bit Oh, Sleeper soundtrack.

  4. Lisa Gerrard (of Dead Can Dance):

    Singer Lisa Gerrard is one half of the goth meets world-music band Dead Can Dance, the other half being singer Brendan Perry. When away from Dead Can Dance, Gerrard creates music that is infused with her own very personal take on spirituality. "I have never had a choice, it is a vocation," Gerrard says of her singing. "It is where I speak to God from. It is what I have always known." On her album Immortal Memory, a collaboration with composer Patrick Cassidy, Gerrard sings the "Lord’s Prayer" in Aramaic, the language of Jesus. She and Cassidy also composed a score for the Mel Gibson film The Passion of Christ that ultimately wasn’t used.

  5. P.O.D.:

    Since 1992, P.O.D., whose name stands for "Payable on Death" and references Jesus’ death on the cross and Christians’ debts to Satan, has been freely and creatively mixing up punk, reggae, and alternative metal into a typically West Coast brew (think Faith No More or No Doubt). Over the years, they’ve great deal of mainstream success, received two Grammy Award nominations, and sold over 10 million albums. P.O.D.’s latest album Murdered Love is on Razor & Tie and is described by the band as a mix of hip hop, punk rock, and reggae. P.O.D.’s music and lyrics continue to be simultaneously introspective and confrontational.

  6. Underøath:

    Underøath lead vocalist Spencer Chamberlain once said, "I look at (Underøath) as just another band in the secular market with all these other hardcore bands. We just happen to be a Christian band that has different beliefs." After a successful career spanning 15 years that includes two Grammy Award nominations and more than 1.3 million records sold, the Christian metal band Underøath is calling it quits. As of October 2012, the band is on a final "farewell tour." On YouTube, in the comments below the band’s video for "Too Bright To See, Too Loud To Hear," a fan writes, "I love you guys for showing me how to live and get through the most depressing of times. I’m so glad you guys are tatted on my right arm. I’ll wear it every day with pride knowing that Jesus walks with me."

  7. U2:

    Yeah, well, OK. There are hundreds of other incredible bands we could name out of this genre of Christian rock/metal/industrial/scream music besides U2, but you gotta give it up for a band that has collectively worn its Christian faith on its sleeve and has recorded so many great songs that confront, question, and ultimately celebrate that faith, including "Bad," "Gloria," "In The Name Of Love," and this one, "Moment Of Surrender," that describes a heroin addict finally letting go of his addiction giving it up to a higher power. Or at least that’s how we hear it. So who are some of your favorite Christian rock bands you’d like us to know about?