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Top Ten 80's Christian Metal Debut Albums

Posted by Matthew Hunt on

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Yes, we love METAL!  And, we listen and support all types of metal, but truth be told - Christian metal has some of the best releases ever.  For this list we have chosen the Top Ten 80's Christian Metal releases. It doesn't mean this is a definitive list.  It's just our list!  We would LOVE for you to reply with your list.  If you are reading this on the BLOG, please leave a comment!

We have not selected hard rock or rock albums.  We stuck to releases that came out in the 80's, and that are solidly heavy metal album in style and heaviness. 

As an added bonus, we have discounted all 10 albums at least a few dollars!  So, go big-time and add these essential Christian metal albums to your collection!

We will offer all ten according to years released.

1986

1. BRIDE - SHOW NO MERCY 

Bride Show No Mercy

 

BRIDE - SHOW NO MERCY + 3 (*NEW-GOLD CD, 2021, Retroactive) $12.97 SALE

It's hard to put into words how important this debut Bride album is.  Even to this day it's combination of metallic muscle, soaring Thompson vocals, creative lyrics, and dark gothic overtones stand alone as one of one. The band might have been young and ascending, but Show No Mercy is truly a unique treasure.  Available at Boone's Overstock on both Gold CD and Vinyl with tree bonus tracks!
 

BRIDE - SHOW NO MERCY + 3 (*NEW-Purple Vinyl, 2021, Retroactive) w Poster! $19.97 SALE

Click to Buy Bride - Show No Mercy

#2 (1986)
BARREN CROSS - ROCK FOR THE KING

Barren Cross - Rock for the King CD

BARREN CROSS - ROCK FOR THE KING (*NEW-CD, 2014 Remastered Digipak) *Last Copies $39.97 SALE
 

Christian metal fans in 1986 were not prepared for the metal onslaught of RFtK in 1986! The look, the sound, the lyrics!  Dang!  Dying Day, Light the Flame, Believe and Going Nowhere all resonated with us in every way!  It still does!

The Rock for the King 2014 Digipack Edition has been completely re-mastered with original artwork front and back and comes in a high quality Digipak. For fans of Stryper, Iron Maiden and Christian Rock and Metal. Originally released in 1986 "Rock For The King", first full length album by Barren Cross' set the stage for many great releases by the band however none of them carried the collect-ability, energy and drive quite like Rock for the King. The album was brilliant. So much so that it caught the eye of Enigma Records (Stryper's) record label back in 1985. Mike Lee (Michael Drive), Jim LaVerde, Ray Parris and Steve Whittaker

Click to Buy Barren Cross - Rock For the King CD

#3 (1986)
BLOODGOOD - BLOODGOOD

Bloodgood

 

BLOODGOOD - BLOODGOOD (Legends Remastered) (*NEW-CD, 2019, Retroactive Records) $12.97 SALE

****ALSO AVAILABLE ON VINYL $85.00 (Last copies!)

The metal scene was detonating all over the world in the early and mid 80’s, but aside from Stryper, Christian metal was in the infant stages....and then came along 1986. 1986 was an iconic year for Christian metal.  We saw future Hall-of-Fame releases by some bands we already knew - Leviticus (Strongest Power), Saint (Times End), and Messiah Prophet (Master of the Metal). But 1986 also offered several critically acclaimed debut releases from bands that would go on to define the epitome of Christian metal in the decades to follow - Bride (Show No Mercy), Barren Cross (Rock For the King), and last but not least, the debut self-titled album from the theatrical U.S. band out of the state of Washington with a peculiar name, and a sound that hit all the right notes for metalheads desperate for MORE white metal - BLOODGOOD!

Bloodgood was way ahead of their time, and rivaled W.A.S.P. in sheer heaviness and deadly riffs, while boasting a game-changing lead singer in Les Carlson whose voice immediately cemented them in the serious-contender category. The 1986 debut release created a metallic aura that set new standards for both the quality and authenticity of Christian metal. These guys weren't sacrificing their metal edge, even with a passionate Christian message. There's nothing fake to be had here; with lyrics that range from being lost in a perpetual nighttime of sin, killing the black snake of the devil, and setting demons on the run.

Some might call “Stand In the Light” the lyrical crown jewel of the album. The words might seem “un-metal” on paper, but they are absolutely ripped out by Carlsen with such force that they're guaranteed to bring out the fist-pumps, if not the Dio horns.

“Does a child cry? Does the world turn around? Does a fire burn? Is the earth also ground? This we've learned, but what have we found? Does a snowflake fall? And in fall does a tree drop its leaves? Does water freeze?”

Click to Buy Bloodgood - Bloodgood on CD

#4 (1987)
WHITECROSS - WHITECROSS (1987)

Whitecross 1987 CD
Mexican Import Whitecross CD

WHITECROSS - NINETEEN EIGHTY SEVEN (Gold Edition) Re-Recorded + bonus tracks CD featuring "Love On the Line" $11.97 SALE

Yes, yes, and more yes.  Even those of us who are lyrically impaired can sing every word to every song on this album. It is filled with hooks and riffs like we had never heard before.  Whitecross 1987 is a stone cold-classic.  Period. Case closed. We wanted all our friends who listened to Ratt and the Crue to hear our favorite new band, WHITECROSS!
 

Nineteen Eighty Seven is a completely new recording of the original Self-Titled Whitecross. It contains all the original songs except for YOUR MINE, but has 3 additional bonus tracks (including a newly recorded 2015 ripping guitar solo/song Angel's Wing exclusive to this Gold Edition), Love on the Line from the 6.98 Love on the Line EP, and a 2005 guitar solo/song by Rex Carroll called Re:Animate. This original version also contains a four hidden out-take tracks at the end of the disc. That makes a total of seven bonus tracks! In 1987 Whitecross took the Christian Metal Scene by storm, delivering what would soon become one of the most talked about and highly collectible recordings in the Christian metal market. Scott Wenzel and Rex Carroll created a duo like few before them, breaking ground in the Christian metal scene that opened up the door for a flurry of bands. Often compared to the secular mainstream band RATT, Scott's vocals were new and fresh in Christian music, and Rex's blazing guitar work put Whitecross on the map for good. Whitecross continued throughout the 80's and 90's making music and releasing some 12 recordings with drummer Mike Feighan, as well as many other musicians. Now Rex, Scott and Mike would like to take you back to a time when Metal still reigned. Whitecross Nineteen Eighty Seven is a completely new recording of the original Self-Titled Whitecross, but bigger, louder and better than ever. The 2015 Retroactive Records Gold Edition comes as a 6 panel eco-wallet, enhanced/revised artwork, and one new bonus track exclusive to this release. For fans of Ratt, Stryper, Bloodgood, Motley Crue!

Click to Buy Whitecross 1987 CD

#5 (1987)
TRYTAN - CELESTIAL MESSENGER

Trytan - Celestial Messenger CD

TRYTAN - CELESTIAL MESSENGER + 3 Bonus: GOLD DISC EDITION with Trading Card (*NEW-CD, 2020, Retroactive) $11.97 SALE


Let us take you back in time to the 80's. Open the wardrobe and grab your spandex trousers, look in the mirror and get the spray ready to make that hair big! Trust us - just close your eyes and take a super-charged spaceship back to the glory days of hard rock and heavy metal smack-dab in the middle of 1987! The music on Celestial Messenger is exquisite - featuring thundering bass lines, wickedly righteous guitar riffing, and drumming perfection while all being tied together with the silky-sweet Geddy Lee inspired vocals of Lary Dean.  One listen to the remastered magic of this classic album and we were instantly hooked just like 30+ years ago when we bought the cassette at our local Christian bookstore!  The Rush-inspired synthesizers cannot be overlooked as they continue to be a critical part of Trytan's progressive rock masterpiece that has aged like a fine wine over time.  As an added treat, Retroactive Records worked with the band to come up with three must-hear bonus tracks from Trytan demos and wow - wow - and more wow are they progressive rock round-house kicks - one after the other.  While they are demo tape tracks, the music is top-shelf elite and the kind of songs you want to listen to repeatedly.  Tryan proves this band knows how to balance melody, musicianship, jams, complexity and hooks with progressive rock finesse.  The 2021 Gold Disc Remaster is the quintessential CD reissue of this revered classic.  This CD reissues comes with the strongest recommendation possible.  It is elite in every way and comes with a Trytan foil-stamped trading card.  For fans of Kansas, Rush, Balance of Power, Threshold, Jacobs Dream, Veni Domine.

Click to Buy Trytan - Celestial Messenger CD

#6 (1987)
STRYKEN - FIRST STRIKE / ONCE LOST...NOW FOUND

Stryken Vinyl
Stryken CD

STRYKEN - ONCE LOST...NOW FOUND (*NEW-GOLDMAX CD + Collector Card, 2022, Retroactive) Includes the First Strike album + 7 bonus $11.97 SALE
 

STRYKEN - ONCE LOST...NOW FOUND (*NEW-VINYL, 2023, Retroactive) Includes the First Strike album + 7 bonus $22.97 SALE (Last copies!)

Read all about this amazing album - the 1987 original released was full of charm, enthusiasm, and youthful confidence and ambition!  It lacked in production values and cohesiveness. Credit the band for correcting ALL of this with the 2022 re-envisioned First Strike album re-named Once Lost...Now Found!  The band took an already essential metal album and took it up to the highest level! 

STRYKEN – ONCE LOST NOW FOUND includes 14 songs with 7 new releases and 4 NEW SONGS that were “once lost” but “now found.”  Never released songs like “A Man,” “Momma,” and the up-tempo, bass guitar centric version of “I Need Your Love” which begins with a killer synthesizer intro.  Additionally, 3 “LIVE” audio recordings “now found” enhance the album with one track that covers the band member introductions and the bands message regarding the Gospel of JESUS CHRIST. The album closes with “I’ll Be Home,” which Dale Streiker wrote for his daughter when she was very young and recorded as a wedding gift for her. Remastered by Bombworks Sound and a full write up from Doug Van Pelt of Heaven's Metal Magazine all come together to ensure fans get everything their collector's hearts desire!  

ABOUT THE BAND
Often referred to as the “fundamentalists in armor” and playing what it describes as “thunder rock,” Stryken was put together in Arizona in the late seventies by founding members Dale and Steve Streiker initially under the moniker Stryker.  After releasing a single and a four song demo, the two proceeded to place a want ad for a drummer, which led them to a talented timekeeper by the name of Joey Knight.  A move to Austin came about in late 1982, and by the spring of the following year the band recorded a nine song cassette only release entitled Blitzkrieg that sold very well in the Southwest.  By the mid-eighties, however, Stryker started to receive pressure from the Stryper camp about changing its name.  Yes, Stryker rhythms with Stryper, but one important thing to keep in mind is that the name Stryker was trademarked by the band after it formed in the late seventies- a time when the boys in yellow and black were more than likely still in junior high school.  Needless to say, cooler heads prevailed and the band agreed to make a change by switching the last letter in its name from an “r” to an “n”.  Hence, Stryken was officially born.  With a permanent name in place and its line up finalized with the addition of bassist Ezekiel Vade, Stryken went through a complete makeover in its image which saw each member of the group don body armor that is symbolic of the Armor of God as described in Ephesians 6:11.  Stryken soon formed its own label, Chrystal Records, which it used to release a 12” single that included the tracks “Rock On” and “Surprise” in addition to its 1987 full length debut, appropriately entitled, First Strike (which came out only on cassette and red transparent vinyl). 

So, what is the best way to describe “thunder rock”?  Well, according to the band, “thunder rock” is a slower, powerful, driving beat, highlighting on guitars and drums.  I might describe it as a combination of eighties influenced metal and straightforward hard rock certain to appeal to fans of Stryper, Bloodgood, Saint, Messiah Prophet, Whitecross, Motley Crue and Kiss.  First Strike, upon repeated listen, actually proves itself quite the consistent effort in that its tracks, for the most part, are well constructed and hold up under repeated play.  The album, for example, delivers its share of anthemic hard rockers (“Crush The Head Of Satan” & “Rock On”), a couple of upbeat melodic metal tracks (“One Way” & “State Of Emergency’), a  slower, more driving number (“The Young Men have A Vision”) and a pair of ballads (“The Answer” & “Surprise”).  And the band pulls it off without a hitch, which is a credit to the strength of the songwriting here. 

Click to Purchase Stryken CD / Vinyl!

#7 (1988)
VALOR - FIGHT FOR YOUR LIFE

Valor CD

VALOR - FIGHT FOR YOUR LIFE (NEW-CD, 2019) Remastered Classic Speed Metal ala early SLAYER! $11.97 SALE
 

VALOR - FIGHT FOR YOUR LIFE (NEW-VINYL, 2019) Remastered Classic Speed Metal ala early SLAYER! $22.97 SALE

One read in Heaven's Metal Magazine back in the day reporting that Rad Rockers put out  a stack of these cassettes at a Christian rock festival with the sign "Speed Metal" and they "were all gone in a flash" told us speed metal freaks all we needed to know! This re-release by the band has vastly improved an already classic album!

Christian, heavy metal band formed in the San Francisco bay area in 1986. They were really a Christian speed/ power metal band. Originally starting off as Golgotha. Valor recorded one demo "Masquerade" (1986) and released their full-length album "Fight For Your Life" in 1988. Valor is the Christian Metal  community's answer to Slayer, Exodus, and Metallica. In 1985, Golgotha released a powerful demo that took the Christian metal scene by storm. “Prisoner” provided four songs that proved the band not only had the chops, but also strong songs that made them favorites in the underground metal scene.  "Fight For Your Life," Didn't I," and "Masquerade" are incredible and worth buying just for those. 

In 2004 the album was remastered and released by Retroactive, however this new late-2019 version is even better. Completely remastered and includes the world-renowned Uriah Duffy (Whitesnake, Sly and the Family Stone, etc.) who was brought in to re-track the bass parts on the album. 

  1. Valor 4:46
  2. The Flesh Is Weak 4:02
  3. Fight For Your Life 2:37
  4. Empty Tomb 4:54
  5. Didn't I 4:10
  6. It's Not Too Late 5:32
  7. Accept Him 1:05
  8. Masquerade 4:06
  9. Burn 5:37

Valor was formed by bassist Adam Alvarez in 1986 after the break-up of his previous band Golgotha, a hard rock Christian band. Alvarez retained vocalist, Michael Brueck, and former Saint drummer, Jim Maxwell, and together they searched for a guitarist after their guitarist, Todd Price, left. Chris Price was called in for an audition and was subsequently hired. Price brought with him the speed metal genre that Valor became known for.

The combination of the hard driving, fast paced music and Brueck’s classic rock vocals differentiated Valor from other acts of their time. Vic Sardon was hired as the second guitarist and the band recorded their demo tape, ‘Masquerade’. Because Golgotha had gained some fame, the newly formed Valor was able to hit the ground running with an existing fanbase. Prior to ‘Fight For Your Life’ in1988, Vic Sardon left the band and was never successfully replaced.

In 1989, Adam Alvarez left Valor and was replaced with jazz-rock bassist, Tom Gage. The band continued to play shows and perform new material until the band dissolved in late 1989. Despite their short stretch, Valor continues to carry a unique relevance and a long existing fanbase. 

Original vinyl copies of ‘Fight For Your Life’ sell for as much as $300 both nationally and internationally. Valor continues to show up on a variety of music websites and YouTube playlists.

Click to Buy Valor CDs and Vinyl

#8 (1988)
SACRED WARRIOR - REBELLION

Sacred Warrior - Rebellion CD

SACRED WARRIOR - REBELLION: METAL ICON SERIES (*NEW-CD, 2019, Retroactive Records) $12.97 

Angelic Warlord’s Top 15 Albums Of 1988 features one single album rated as the #1 most important album of a year many consider the pinnacle of heavy metal greatness. That top spot from the top year belongs to Rebellion by Sacred Warrior. This is a no-brainer #1 for those who lived in 1988, and purchased the release of Rebellion. Sinister guitar-shred fests like “Children of the Light” and “Day of the Lord” are embedded in the hearts and souls of fans to this day. The infectious lyrics and progressive melodies from epic tracks like “Black Metal” and “Stay Away From Evil” contain pure magic conjured by a band every bit as good as Queensryche, Iron Maiden, and Crimson Glory (yes, indeed!). In fact, with the release of Rebellion, fans would have the first installment of four albums spanning from 1988-1991 that would re-define the standard of heavy metal greatness. It is near impossible to find four consecutive albums more powerful, more magnetic, and more impactful than Sacred Warrior’s. And, while the band would go on to grow and mature lyrically and musically, for many fans the debut release of Rebellion will always be the favorite. Rebellion showcases 12 melodic metal anthems that rock the world, and are essential companions on life’s journey. The 2019 Retroactive Records CD reissue is the first of the Metal Icon Series, and features a 16 page booklet packed with band photos, a write up from Heaven’s Metal Magazine’s Jonathan “Doc” Swank, lyrics and more! It also features a fresh 2019 remaster by Rob Colwell of Bombworks Sound. This is THE definitive reissue of one of Christian metal’s most definitive albums.

Click to Buy Sacred Warrior CDs

#9 (1989)
DELIVERANCE - DELIVERANCE

Deliverance picture disc vinyl
Deliverance- Deliverance cd

DELIVERANCE - DELIVERANCE + 3 Bonus Tracks + Trading Card (Gold Disc Edition CD, 2020 Retroactive) $12.97 SALE
 

DELIVERANCE - DELIVERANCE + 2 Bonus Tracks (*NEW-Picture Disc Color Vinyl, 2023 Retroactive) 1989 debut thrash masterpiece $19.97
 

Frightening, awe-inspiring, and absolutely relentless, Deliverance's self-titled album dropped onto the scene in 1989 with all the finesse of a metallic sledgehammer across the forehead. In 1987, Deliverance had made their presence known in dramatic fashion on the California Metal compilation (a sampler in the vein of Metal Blade's Metal Massacre compilations) with "Attack" being the very first thrash/speed metal song with a strong Christian message to ever be released. Overwhelmed with anticipation, fans lined up for two years trying to buy more of this West Coast speed metal as phenomenal as anything released by Exodus, Death Angel, Metallica, and Anthrax. The long wait ended with the release of 1989's self-titled debut, and fans were not disappointed. Having enlisted the production skills of famed mainstream metal producer Bill Metoyer (Flotsam and Jetsam, Trouble, Fates Warning, DRI, Slayer) the debut exuded all the pure destructive power for which fans could have hoped. Every note is executed with jaw-dropping levels of scientific precision. Jimmy's vocals are both powerful and soaring. The 2020 Retroactive reissue is a brand new Gold Disc remaster (Rob Colwell of Bombworks Sound) and includes three non-LP demo songs as bonus tracks. The insert booklet features 2017 write-ups from band leader, Jimmy Brown, guitarist Glenn Rogers, bassist Brian Khairullah, and Pastor Bob Beeman.  This is pure metallic brilliance packaged with a genius 12-page booklet laid out by NoLifeTilMetal's Scott Waters. Previous CD reissues of this classic album all had audio or graphics issues.  This is THE ultimate reissue of one of a handful of Christian metal's ultimate albums.  In addition, every CD comes with an exclusive trading card (gold foil stamped) inside the packaging.     

#10 (1989)
BELIEVER - EXTRACTION FROM MORTALITY

Believer - Extraction Gold CD
Extraction Vinyl

BELIEVER - EXTRACTION FROM MORTALITY (*NEW-DELUXE GOLD CD + CARD, 2023, Bombworks) Only 500 - Remastered/1989 Thrash Metal $16.97 SALE
 

BELIEVER - EXTRACTION FROM MORTALITY (*NEW-SILVER CD + CARD, 2023, Bombworks) Remastered/1989 Thrash Metal $12.97 SALE 
 

BELIEVER - EXTRACTION FROM MORTALITY (*NEW-PURPLE CASSETTE, 2023, Bombworks) *Only 100! Remastered/1989 Thrash Metal $13.97 SALE
 

BELIEVER - EXTRACTION FROM MORTALITY (*NEW-ROYAL PURPLE VINYL, 2024, Bombworks) Only 300 - Remastered/1989 Thrash Metal $24.97 SALE
 

BELIEVER - EXTRACTION FROM MORTALITY (*NEW-TRANSPARENT PURPLE-SPLATTER VINYL, 2024, Bombworks) Only 300 - Remastered/1989 Thrash Metal $27.97 SALE

It would be impossible to articulate just how important this album by Believer was to countless young thrash-deprived Christian metal heads. Deliverance has whet our whistles with the song "Attack" on the California Metal compilation in 1987, but Extraction was indeed a full album of EXACTLY what we craved - elite speed and thrash metal.  The band would go on to do amazing things and sign with both Road Runner and Metal Blade Records. But this album remains and has only gotten better with age.  

Click to Buy Believer - Extraction CD, Tape, Vinyl

2 comments


  • I would have had Zion and Rage of Angel’s debut album high up on this list, if not the top 2 :)

    Ed Hutchinson on

  • Awesome list!
    And to have these available for those that need to fill in the gaps in their collection is really helpful.

    Doug Van Pelt on

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