Friday, June 22, 2012

Flashback Friday: To Hell With The Devil

Now if there's an album title destined to send Parents, Pastors, and Administrators at Christian schools into conniption fits, this was it. I went to a fairly conservative Christian College. Granted, it was metro Boston, and the Church of The Nazarene isn't exactly the Amish, but there was to be no dancing and going to the movies was frowned upon. Of course there were plenty of Christian Films that one would get approval to show, but, having seen my fair share of them, they stunk.

I came to the Christian Metal scene at the start, introduced by my college friend John Cherry. (A side note: John and his wife Macie are part of an awesome metal band by the name of Slateface. I proudly consider myself to be a headbanger, though without the hair. Nothing against it, I tried, just couldn't do it. Probably a layering issue. Once it got to irritating I cut it short. Same thing with beards. Never could go a week without being clean shaven. It itches too much. A Nazirite I could never be.

Personal grooming habits aside, the louder the better when music. As I'm sure King David would agree, "it's not too loud unless your ears bleed."

To Hell With The Devil. In hindsight it is an entirely appropriate and proper Christian Music Title. Matthew 25:41 (KJV) reads "Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels." Translation....To Hell With The devil.

Michael & Robert Sweet (Lead Vocal/Guitar and Drums respectively), Oz Fox (Guitar and Vocals), and Timothy Gaines (Bass Guitar and Vocals). Four names that changed the Christian Rock scene forever. Where Petra became the standard for Christian Rock, Stryper became the standard for Metal, at least the 80's "Melodic" style. (A second standard bearer was Whitecross).

The band formed in 1983 under the name Roxx Regime but quickly changed to Stryper which is based on Isaiah 53:5 and the phrase "By Whose Stripes We Are Healed". They also created a backronym Salvation Through Redemption, Yielding Peace, Encouragement and Righteousness. They were signed to Enigma records and in 1984 released their debut, an EP called The Yellow and Black Attack. The modest success of the EP encouraged Enigma and when the full length debut Soldiers Under Command went Gold, their spot at the top of Christian Metal was assured.

To Hell With The devil far exceeded both Enigma and Stryper's expectations by going Platinum, and Calling On You, Free and Honestly were staples on MTV. This is a music video for Honestly, which had the emotional appeal strong enough to upstage Friends.

In God We Trust came next. It went Gold as well. I got to go to one of those concerts at the Centrum in Worcester in Massachusetts (now called the DCU Center) and sat 2nd row. Here is a video for Always there for you.

They released one more album Against The Law (1990), which was a radical style departure. It flopped, and the group disbanded until the 21st Century. They came back in 2003 and are going stronger than ever.

Three part harmonies and some of the best guitar work this side of heaven. Here's an Oz Fox guitar solo for you.

I hope you enjoyed this look back at one of the greatest Christian Metal bands ever. I have cut the videos for space, but there have been two more studio albums Reborn (2005) and Murder by Pride (2009) and have most recently produced a covers album simply called The Covering which was given a 5 Emerald rating here at The Night Beat, though was left off the awards because of it being a covers album, and I have no category for that yet. That's it for this week. Have a great weekend and come back for Music Video Monday. Until then, I am Awaiting Your Reply.