26
Oct
09

Jesus Rocks Redux!

stryperbandYes, at one time Jesus did attempt to rock in the 1980′s with Stryper (don’t forget the Isaiah 53:5!!) and most of my friends from high school drank their kool-aid bubblegum metal, but not me.  Even in my headbanging days I just could not get into them;  their “message of Christ” just made my stomach turn and forced me (and my Aiwa walkman) to get as far away as I could.  Even with the big hair, cool outfits (well, at least at the time we considered them cool) and fret burning power ballads worthy of your Bic lighter, I thought they still were lame.
I’m a practicing Catholic so I’m not against religion, but when a band markets themselves as “Christian Rock” or “God Metal” I just feel they lose their credibility.  When a band focuses on a message rather than simply playing music (as exemplified by Stryper)I became bored and  preferred to listen to Iron Maiden or Quiet Riot.  Awesome music and no message, except the message that Eddie was a cool mascot, Steve Harris was an awesome bass player, and that “metal health” would drive you mad!
Case in point would be 20 years in the future with today’s bands like Evanescence, Creed, or even as an other Hi-Fi reviewer mentioned Matchbox 20, I never catagorized them as religious rock, but I guess they are? The difference perhaps is these bands are not so much in your face about God as Stryper attempted to be; I happen to find Evanescence very talented; I actually own both of their albums and play them on a very regular basis. 
Somehow Evanescence as a band has been able to market itself as metal with a gothic look and a mainstream sound (and a very,very,very subtle message about god) that appeals to a vast majority of rockers. It wasn’t until recently did I notice one of the lyrics as “my god, my tourniquet”, but I really didn’t think too much about it and I don’t think they wanted you to either. 

Many of Evanescences’ songs focus on regret and despair, taking your own life, why it is not worth it doing, and also that there is so much to live for; although reoccuring themes of almost all of their music, it appears to be the formula  they use in making a darkish persona for the bands sound.  Perhaps a strategy to be respected in the metal scene; yet underneath it all they are  a christian rock band? Themes like “regret”  and “despair” for songs are not unique solely to Christian rock bands. How many tradiational rock songs focus on those themes? Plenty do and always have, or any movie, or novel for that fact? C’mon, any rock fan knows that  anger, resentment, fear, remorse and all the other positive things in life (oh, don’t forget booze, girls, and drugs too!) are the fuel for writing rock and metal songs in the first place.

Christian rock is actually cool if people like it, I think that Hootie and Blowfish and Jars of  Clay do well at marketing themselves with those demographics without question.  I played in a band once and getting any noteriety at any level was near impossible, perhaps that’s where these bands are smarter.  They see how they can make a true living out of playing to a captured audience with a product they need. I’m not saying that these bands don’t believe in what their message is, but they definitely have carved a nitch for gaining fame (the fame all bands seek!) especially in a difficult career path such as music.  Rather than just being another alternative band trying to make it to the general public, they’ve decided to specialize and hit a targeted market; and one that has money to buy albums and fill arenas. Good for them I say!

However, the bottom line for me is for bands to focus on their music and not a message; whatever the lyrics are and whatever someone thinks you are saying is totally subjective unto themselves.  Simply put, if I want to hear about “Jesus and his turning water into wine” I will attend church on Sunday.  If you want to point out that “some dude can change water into booze and parties hard as a result” add some hard metal riffs and a drum solo, brother you’ve got me hooked, amen to that!

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3 Responses to “Jesus Rocks Redux!”


  1. January 30, 2010 at 2:27 PM

    I fully understand the disenchantment with Stryper. I, however, coming from a little different perspective, I thoroughly enjoy any true hard rock songs, and feel I am, in some ways, a bit of a purist when it comes to hard rock, despite my professing to be a devout Christian. I filter out many hard rock songs, when they began “mockingly” singing praises to Satan, or using satanic metaphors, such as “Highway to Hell” even though it is extremely tempting to bang my head to. That being said, there are, surprisingly to other devout Christians, a lot of hard rock songs that do not bring satanic messages into the picture. I agree with your statement about tying in a message to hard rock, if one does desire to bring a message in song, it must not be so prevalent. There is simple beauty in Rock, and the “message” threatens that beauty, just like I could not stand to listen to any of John Lenin’s (I know, “The Beatles” are not hard rock, but the point is still relevant) philosophical tripe in song, e.g. “Some call you Buddha or Jesus” (whatever that song was). The negativism of that statement is regarding Lenin’s philosophical (/theological?) beliefs and not meant to detract from Lenin’s musical brilliance whatsoever. Besides, any rock group with a “Christian” font I wonder if they are using Christianity as a marketing tool. I need to be careful not to judge though, but I do not think that Stryper is a non-profit, group… furthermore… Jesus would never advocate getting drunk… as he condemned drunkenness as one of the seven deadly sins… so I question one’s serious devotion to Christ when a statement is made as this “Simply put, if I want to hear about “Jesus and his turning water into wine” I will attend church on Sunday. If you want to point out that ‘some dude can change water into booze and parties hard as a result’ add some hard metal riffs and a drum solo, brother you’ve got me hooked, amen to that!” That does not sound like someone in touch with God… I don’t know… not judging, just wondering… is there a message in partying hard, and if so, where is that coming from? and Jesus did not attempt to rock with Stryper…LOL… Stryper attempted to rock with Jesus… man attempts, Jesus attempts nothing… Jesus DOES! = )

    • 2 jacobull
      January 31, 2010 at 12:54 AM

      First of all, thank you for taking the time to reply and reading our blog. I’m not sure I agree with your comment about your being a “purist” when it comes to hard rock; clearly you are more a listener that is (and to your credit) a person that is (perhaps) more selective about what they choose when considering a particular brand of metal than just metal in general. Sorry, but if you are “purist” AC/DC should be on the top of your list especially with songs like “Highway to Hell” and “Hell’s Bells”, c’mon now! These guys are a cornerstone in the metal world, regardless of the lyrics you should still band your head.

      I would imagine that you disdain anything that Frank Zappa has released sadly, and to denounce John Lennon’s lyrics seems odd to most who would read this, however, since you are a self-proclaimed “devout Christian” (and I am truly not trivializing your being so) your comment actually does make sense. Most “devout Christians” or “Evangelicals” see Christ as the one and only God, however I feel that Lennon was simply riding the line by acknowledging that there is a higher power, yet called many names. The same could be said for Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord”, he is not proclaiming any one god by name and his song respected all faiths. Granted Harrison was a Hare Krishna at the time, I think he was singing a song about tolerance rather than theological supremacy.

      Also, please know that you spelled Lennon’s name “Lenin”; I’m sure it was an oversight and you did not mean the founder of the Communist Party (the fifth Beatle perhaps?).

      As for my comment about “turning water into wine”, my point is that I don’t like rock bands that provide sermon’s in their lyrics, however if they do, please make it subtle and appropriate for a larger audience not interested in religion. As for drinking being one of the seven deadly sins…ok, I guess, but writing songs about drinking High-C or Kool-aid would be pretty boring no?

      Listen, metal and rock have always relied on the same recipe for rockin’ “sex, booze, and recreational drugs” and I’m sorry, we here at HiFi like that stuff (although, the only recreational drugs we do these days in our old age is usually Ibuprofen or Tylenol Cold and Sinus), my point is that metal songs are better when they tell tales of crazy times, women of ill repute, wheelies, and hangovers (listen to the new GodSmack song “whiskey hangover”, you’ll actually like it! trust me.)

      I’m glad that you added your two cents, it’s what this blog is all about!

      Rock on!


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