Saturday, July 23, 2005

Christian Metal

I got this email today from a website called Girder Music. While I usually delete spam without another thought, this one caught my eye. It’s headline was a shout for me to pre-order Stryper’s newest CD, “Reborn”. Two things made me not order. One, the fact that I didn’t have my credit card handy, and two, the knowledge that I really shouldn’t spend the money anyway.

But there were a couple of things that made me want to spend it. One was that the CD was produced by Michael Sweet and Kenny Lewis, who, I believe, was one of those that Michael worked with on his solo album, “Truth”. That one is quite possibly my favorite Christian album OF ALL TIME. Rock or anything else. It’s the best.

The other was all the cool memories of me and my friends listening to “To Hell With The Devil”. We were amazed with Sweet’s voice, and amazed at their sheer audacity and chutzpah, singing so blatantly about Christianity in the mainstream music world. They toured with Motley Crue, in a tour billed as “The Heaven and Hell Tour”. They used to throw little new testaments from the stage.

As I grew up, though, I realized that their music, and especially their lyrics were pretty much devoid of any real depth.

But “Truth” was different. Years later, when I discovered that CD, I was blown away by the meaning in the writing. The music was also amazing.

So, I’m hoping that this new Stryper CD, to be released on an indie Christian label, will meet the standard set by “Truth”. The preview clip that I heard at bodes well.

Then, I started checking out other CD’s at Girder. I found a bunch of other Christian bands that I used to follow in my early days as a rocker. Petra, Rez Band, and even an old punk band named One Bad Pig. They even had the album that had been given to me on Cassette by a kid I was giving bass lessons to. It was called “I Scream Sunday”. And it had two particular songs that stood out. One was the title track, and I don’t remember that one, and the other was “Ice Cream Sundae”, and that one I remember well:

“The world is like an ice cream sundae
The world is like an ice cream sundae
The world is like an ice cream sundae
It’s all gonna melt someday!”

That one still makes me chuckle…

The fun thing about revisiting these old bands was realizing that back in that day, there was no such thing as LDS rock. It was just a silly dream in my head. Then, along came the Christian rockers, and I started to think that it could be done for us mormons. Then, years later, I discovered Greg Simpson, and soon came The Singles Ward, and the RM. A friend of mine, Kent Olmstead, made a CD of LDS grunge and alternative called “SumsayKyasmus” under the name of “Fast Sundae”, and I smiled because of my memories of the Pig.

And finally, I was able to put out “One United Generation” to add to the slowly growing pool.

I still listen to a lot of CCM. Petra’s “Revival” CD is incredible. DC Talk’s “Jesus Freak” is a power house of deep writing, as well as the solo work of Toby Mac. Of course, “Truth” is constantly in my CD player, along with Superchick singing about the modest and chaste Barlow Girls.

And I listen to a lot of Mormon music, especially as we continually get more and more diverse. That’s one of the fringe benefits of reviewing CD’s. I get a lot of free ones to listen to! :-)

Mark Hansen

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