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These are 10 Christian metal albums from the 80's that seem to get better with age and are the albums I can listen to over and over again. I have tried to stick to classic 80's hard rock/metal but every one of them is really heavy. I may do separate lists for thrash, AOR, death metal, etc. sometime later on. I have chosen to stick to albums released in the 1980's. I also limited myself to only one album per artist.
This list does not mean these albums are the very best in the artist's catalog, it just means these albums are the ones I go back to over and over again. It might be the album's charm. It might be the context of when I first heard it or bought it. Whatever the reason, these are epic albums, and worthy of our listening pleasure!
(no particular order)
WHITECROSS - WHITECROSS (1987) I remember reading all about this hot new band that was taking the Christian hard music scene by storm. White Throne Magazine had the band on the front cover of their second issue. Heaven's Metal Magazine couldn't stop talking about the band. I grew up in a Christian home and church that discouraged listening to music that wasn't "Christian" so I doubt I even knew what the band Ratt sounded like (everyone compared Whitecross to Ratt). However, the magazines I was reading and learning about Whitecross in were very excited. And, since I was hungry for all things Christian metal, I eagerly awaited the release of the vinyl and cassette of what would quickly become a definitive album of my youth. To this day, I would be hard pressed to find an album with more exciting axemanship than what Rex Carroll provides on this gem. I was hooked on this album from the first note, and I love it more today than ever. It was a real pleasure for me to be part of the reissue of this album twice after the band went back into the studio and re-recorded the album from scratch. It sounds amazing! Original issue copies on Pure Metal can be hard to find (and pricey), but it's very cool to own both versions. When I play this album, I turn into a true air guitar hero, and I can sing every word from start to finish. Keep those spins coming.
BRIDE - LIVE TO DIE (1988)
As a teen, I was addicted to those Christian metal magazines that only came out a few times a year. Waiting three or four months in between issues was torture because it was in those magazines I discovered bands like Bride! I had to go to my local Christian bookstore and order it off the microfiche, but boy was it worth it when I got to hear the band's 1986 offer, Show No Mercy. My hopes and expectations were sky high for this classic, and to the band's credit they exceeded everything. With classic metal anthems like "Hell No," "Heroes," and "Here Comes the Bride" we knew we had something in the Christian market as good as anything in the world. Every song is a stone cold classic, and I never get tired of it. Keep the spins coming!
BLOODGOOD - BLOODGOOD (1986) The combination of both charm and grit of this debut album by Bloodgood is astonishing. "Black Snake," "Accept the Lamb, "Anguish & Pain" alone make this album must-own. I enjoy most of the band's catalog, but this album feels like a greatest hits release for other, mere mortal bands. While other Christian bands were rocking out looking like electricians, plumbers, and cashiers, Bloodgood not only had the chops, but LOOKED like full blown rock stars.
I came across this album for the first time while helping my step brother deliver newspapers to a mall in W. Burlington, Iowa. Every time we delivered to the Disc Jockey music store we had to look around. Right there in the mainstream tapes section we saw a cassette that said "BLOODGOOD" on the spine. It caught our attention. Neither of us had heard of the band, but since my brother had cash, he bought it. We both went home and started jamming to the album non-stop for weeks and months on end. I never get tired of this album. It was a perfect release that came out at the perfect time. Keep the spins coming!
TRYTAN - CELESTIAL MESSENGER (1986)
I remember this Chicago-based band getting major coverage in zines like Heaven's Metal. "Trytan sounds like Rush" was all the talk. Keep in mind that in 1986 we could count the number of Christian metal releases for a year on two hands - we had very few options. Sometimes we settled for B and C rated bands (you know who they are), but with the debut release of Celestial Messenger, Christian metal fans were able to bask in the joy and delight of a supremely talented band, who garnered the respect of fans and critics as we had rarely seen. "Mr. Electric," "Genesis," and "Rip Van Winkle" are some of my choice cuts, but there's nothing but brilliance on this album. These songs weren't just prog rock/metal masterpieces that jammed into oblivion. They have heart-piercing hooks, and pitch perfect vocals. Charm is an underrated subjective quality for albums. This album has it all - chops, hooks, majesty, and yes, charm. I was so glad to be part of several reissues of this album. With the Gold Disc reissue, I revisited this album, and was so glad I did. It stays in my regular listening rotation now, and I simply never get tired of it. Keep the spins coming!
GUARDIAN - FIRST WATCH (1989)
True confession - I was late in coming to this album. I had started college, and my collecting enthusiasm took a slight pause, and while I did get this album, it didn't do a lot for me initially. I knew it was good, and the musicians were top notch, but the music just didn't resonate deep within my soul. I am glad I didn't give up on it. The band really blew me away with their sophomore release, Fire & Love" and so I went back to revisit First Watch several times over the years. Honestly, it wasn't until Retroactive Records reissued the CD in a Jewel Case (part of the Legends Remastered Series) that I fell bonkers in love with the album. "Mystery Man," "Miracle," and "I'll Never Leave You" are just three of the magical tracks off of an album that should be pictured next to the definition of "melodic metal perfection." Oz Fox (Stryper) produced this classic and it should have pushed the band into being in regular rotation on MTV and Head Banger's Ball. The album holds a firm place as part of Christian 80's metal royalty.
SACRED WARRIOR - MASTER'S COMMAND (1989)
Master's Command also was released when I wasn't paying much attention to Christian Metal. I didn't give it the time of day until many years later. It really wasn't until 2015 or so that I gave the album some serious listens and realized what I'd been missing. Then Retroactive reissued the album on Gold Disc and I have basically been addicted to the album ever since.
I loved the debut Rebellion (and still do!), and even considered it for this list (it belongs for sure), but ultimately, the band's second album shows depth and maturity, not to mention all-out elite musicianship that propels this album into the stratosphere. "Paradise" might be my favorite, but "The Flood" with Roger Martinez on vocals, and "Bound in Chains" will sit you down if you are standing up. And, I am not much of a praise and worship / hard music kind of guy, but the band really nails it with their classic version of "Holy, Holy, Holy." Everything Sacred Warrior is must-have, but for me, Master's Command is the album I keep going back to over and over again. Keep the spins coming!
SAINT - TIMES END (1986)
I special ordered this tape from my local Christian bookstore (all they had in stock was Sandi Patty, Amy Grant, and Ray Boltz!). I remember driving home, putting this tape in my Walkman headset, laying on my back on my bed, and pressing play. At that point, the heaven's literally opened and swallowed me up during the opening notes of "In the Night." Whoa - this is tight. This is mean. This is dark, yet lined with hope. The album avoided lyric clichés that are embarrassing to thoughtful believers. My mind and thoughts were flooded with allegory and imagery. Whoa - - was I ever tripping out! "Primed and Ready," "Destroyers," and "Phantom Of The Galaxy" are three of the greatest metal songs ever written. But ultimately, there isn't one song on here that fails to make the saddest person thrilled to be alive to hear such elite heavy metal. The Retroactive Records Gold Disc Editions are truly the ultimate reissue for this ultimate album. I am sure I have said that before, but it seems even more true for Time's End, because I just never get tired of this album. Keep the spins coming!
RESURRECTION BAND - DMZ (1982)
This is another album that took me a while to fully appreciate. I just didn't have access to the album until I was a little older, and I liked it, but it wasn't in the vein of Poison, Motley Crue, and Def Leppard and those were the styles I really liked. As I grew older, my appreciation for not only this album, but the entire Rez catalog grew exponentially. I truly appreciate Resurrection Band's approach to social justice in the name of Jesus. Their lyrics are some of the most spiritually relevant and humane you will ever find. They tackle abuse, racism, equality, and war/peace. And, to top it off, the music is scorching! Hot dang, Gomer - can you believe the mind-blowing guitar solo by Stu Heiss? Before their was Rex Carroll (Whitecross), Stu's work on White Noise proved to Christian Metal fans we had our very own Eddie Van Halen - but we called him "Stu!" Plus, "Military Man," "I Need Your Love," and the epic closer, "So In Love with You" are all tracks I dare you to tire of anytime soon! The guitars are dirty. The perfect pitch vocals sound like razorblades coming from a gutter (100% metal!) and would make Lemmy proud. With Mommy Doesn't Love Daddy..., Colours, and DMZ one could argue those three albums are the best 1-2-3 Christian metal has to offer. It doesn't get any more classic than DMZ! I love wearing out my CD (25th Anniversary remaster) and the Vinyl (Girder) reissue.....definitely, keep the spins coming on this one.
XALT - DARK WAR (1988)
I actually don't recall when I finally snagged a copy of this cassette-only independent release. But, when I did finally get my copy, and I played it on my TEAC cassette deck, I knew I had found my long lost best friend! Wow Wow Wow! How could an independent release sounds SO FRICKIN' GREAT?!? Built with progressive jams, insightful lyrics, and landscapes of the best 80's metal has to offer....there is no weakness on this album. It straddles the fence of providing the listener with diversity, but the album is unified and tight as can be. It is simply pure melodic metal genius. It took me about 10 years of staying in touch with lead singer and band leader, James Erdmann to pull off the CD reissue (and later vinyl). It was literally one of my favorite moments of running Retroactive Records. James wrote a ton of insider info for the liner notes, and the album features some of the best artwork the legendary Dennis Preston has in his catalog of elite work.
Songs like "The Cross," "God In a Box," and "Dark War" simply can't be beaten. And, the three instrumental tracks are lessons of instrumental perfection - featuring hooks and rhythms that will transport you to other worlds...yes, they are THAT powerful. This is one of my favorite reissues ever and I never get tired of this album. Ever. Keep the spins coming.
CHARIZMA - ROCK THE WORLD (1985)
In the 80's there was an extraordinary amount of top shelf hard rock and metal coming from Sweden. Charizma was one of the very best. I knew how great this album was because zines and critics couldn't stop raving about it. BUT, it was a high priced import from Sweden, and it was near impossible to get in the USA. Soaring vocals that defined "ear candy," and infectious hooks driven by big guitars truly elevate this album to an elite status. In 1999, I launched my first record label, Magdalene Records and this was my very first CD reissue. Miraculously, it turned out pretty darn good. Tracks like the title track, "The Knights," and "God Bless Rock & Roll" are 80's metal to perfection. I still love this album today...from start to finish (or, should I say "Swedish" :-). Keep the Spins coming!
Be sure to grab your copies at BoonesOverstock.com, GirderMusic.com or wherever they sell great music!