Heavy metal has always had a rebellious, controversial air about it. The fact that it causes so much consternation and hand-wringing — especially amongst parents, religious leaders, and authority figures — is arguably one of its major attractions. But you know what’s even more rebellious and controversial than heavy metal? Christian heavy metal, because it pisses off even the regular metal crowd.
At least that’s what I thought back in the ‘90s. While I was more into Christian industrial at the time, I still listened to my fair share of Vengeance Rising, Tourniquet, and Saviour Machine. And as a fairly regular reader of Heaven’s Metal (now called HM Magazine), I was well aware of Deliverance, Bride, Whitecross, Bloodgood, Believer, Die Happy, and Mortification (to name a few).
Suffice to say, this list of the top 100 Christian metal albums of all time really took me down a very specific nostalgia trail. Originally published in 2010 to celebrate 25 years of Heaven’s Metal, the list’s albums…
…were chosen on the overall consistency and greatness of the songs on the release rather than the sole impact of the band on the scene; multiple titles per band were allowed (Stryper scoring the highest with three of their titles on the list); and most importantly, the purpose of this list is to honor greatness within our scene — to recognize artists who have been committed to honoring God through the highest quality metal the world has to offer.
Here are the top 10 albums:
- Vengeance — Human Sacrifice (1988)
- Tourniquet — Psycho Surgery (1991)
- Deliverance — Deliverance (1989)
- Whitecross — Whitecross (1987)
- Extol — Undeceived (2000)
- Stryper — To Hell With the Devil (1986)
- Sacred Warrior — Obsessions (1991)
- Bloodgood – Detonation (1987)
- Bride — Snakes In the Playground (1992)
- Believer — Sanity Obscure (1990)
On a related note, this might just be the nostalgia talking, but sometimes I think the late ‘80s to late ‘90s was one of the most fertile periods for the Christian music scene, particularly for non-CCM genres. It often felt like its own parallel universe, but in the best way possible.
Viewed with skepticism by both the regular Christian market and the secular market, Christian artists in the alternative, metal, industrial, and goth genres (to name a few) had to forge their own path, and the result was a lot of excellent music that still holds up after all these years.
So much great music, metal or otherwise, came out of that period, and one of my desires with Opus is to help ensure that it’s not totally forgotten.
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I've also written for Christ and Pop Culture, ScreenAnarchy, Filmwell, and Christian Research Journal. I pay the bills by creating beautiful user interfaces and websites for Firespring and Red Bicycle.