"Could it be you're afraid of what your friends might say
If they knew you believed in God above?
They should realize before they criticize
That God is the only way to love"
is defined by being explicitly Christian. Then there are some works that aren't, but could still fool some people.
These works are seldom about evangelizing. To these musicians, Jesus is like a muse more than someone they are trying to promote in their work. However, some of these have inspired actual Christian Rockers.
In many cases, it's more a thematic thing than if God
is actually mentioned, but there is often a clear influence.
It also sometimes happens that a musician who started out in Christian Rock shifts to Not Christian Rock - especially back when the secular music scene had a better demographic than the Christian music scene. Such bands might invoke Jesus Taboo
This trope is often the result of Faux Symbolism
when bands invoke Judeo-Christian motifs solely for show/aesthetic appeal and people take the imagery literally. Also compare Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory
, another common explanation for this trope.
Contrast God-Is-Love Songs
, which are about God but may appear to be secular tunes. Songs that take an outright negative view of faith are Religion Rant Songs
- Anberlin is more often than not considered to be Christian rock, but Steve Christian (ironic name) has said that he considers the band's all-Christian faith a lifestyle rather than an influence on their music. For those who insist, pay close attention to the lyrics of *Fin.
- The Band often used Christian or Biblical imagery. Their most famous song, "The Weight", is a good example ("I pulled into Nazareth..."), see also "Daniel and the Sacred Harp", others.
- Live is sometimes thought of as a Christian band, and Ed Kowalcyk specifically said that "I Alone" was written about the Christian church.
- Until you listen to the lyrics of "Operation Spirit (The Tyranny of Tradition)": Heard a lot of talk about this Jesus / A man of love, a man of strength / But what a man was two thousand years ago / Means nothing at all to me today
- Also, most Christian rockers don't drop f-bombs in their songs.
- Ironically, as of 2010, lead vocalist Ed Kowalczyk is now a legit Christian rock musician; songs on his solo debut include "Zion" and "In Your Light" as well as lead single "Grace".
- Bob Dylan incorporates biblical allusions into a lot of his music, but only the albums recorded during his late-'70s/early'80s "born again" period (Slow Train Coming, Saved, Shot of Love) can really be considered Christian Rock in an overt sense.
- Despite some of their songs(and the fact that Ace and Peter are Christians) , KISS is not religious rock. They are all religious (for instance, Gene Simmons is a fairly serious Jew), but that isn't the focus of their music. "God Gave Rock & Roll To You" was a cover of an Argent song. It's a song about rock and roll, not God.
- KISS, in fact, was once rumored to be a Satanic band by the Moral Guardians of Christendom. "Knights In Satan's Service", remember?
- Which is ironic that KISS was demonized (no pun intended) by some members of the church so much despite the fact that they were strictly anti-drugs, among other things.
- One song, "I Confess", on Carnival Of Souls was cowritten with Christian artist Ken Tamplin.
- Hirax, an American Thrash Metal band, has been called Christian for songs like "Demon's Evil Forces" where their singer plays God, so to speak with the lines "You will go down, down to the demons, and when you get there, you'll be in Hell" and "You must believe in me my son, I am the Lord God, the Holy One"... They have since denied direct involvement in the Christian music scene, though some of their members are indeed Christian.
- Bono of U2 is a Christian, and many of his lyrics have Christian subtext. However, they're usually more of the "Jesus Was Way Cool" kind that one would expect given his views on social justice, rather than songs about the power of faith and other such things that are often found in Christian music.
- Actually, Adam Clayton's the only odd man out religiously. U2 very nearly broke up early on because Bono, Edge, and Larry all belonged to a small evangelical group with a leader who was urging them to give up music because it wasn't quite "Christian". After a couple days of seriously considering it, they decided God wouldn't have given them this skill if He hadn't meant for them to use it. They put the Christian subtext in as a little nod to the people who want to find it — but it's subtle enough that those who don't want to go there don't have to.
- It's been observed that when Bono's singing about a woman, he's never just singing about a woman. A lot of the songs have extra meaning if you know your Bible. "In the garden I was playing the tart, I kissed your lips and broke your heart..."
- "Kyrie" by Mr. Mister. (Kyrie eleison is Greek for "Lord, have mercy," and is still chanted by most Roman Catholics at Mass.)
- Some people have taken to thinking of Mr. Mister as a sort of precursor to Creed, since religious imagery is even more prominent in their body of work than the above title would suggest. All of their songs impart some sort of spiritual or philosophical message. You don't have to be Christian or even a believer in God, for instance, to feel tears come to your eyes when you hear the lyrics to "Stand and Deliver" (which, yes, was written for the movie of the same name): "I know in this life/You gotta stand up for what feels right/Each day, and every night."
- "Show Me The Way" by Styx.
- The New Romantic band Ultravox might be confused for a Christian band, especially because of "Dear God", and "Hymn" to a lesser extent. "Dear God" is decidedly spiritual (ala U2), but the band itself is not explicitly Christian. In fact, "Answers to Nothing" openly questions religion.
- Certain songs by Kansas, such as "Dust in the Wind" and "Carry On Wayward Son." Those songs are actually about a Platonistic world view, and a drug trip respectively. The song "Hold On", however, is explicitly about a man's relation to God. "The Wall" can also be interpreted as describing a pivotal moment when the singer is at a spiritual crisis due to his choices in life having "led [him] to a wall"—and deciding whether or not to pass beyond it through faith. Some members of the group have, later on, joined the Christian Rock scene.
- To this day, it's argued over whether or not Creed was Christian Rock. Whether they were or weren't seems to depend on whether Scott Stapp happened to think being a Christian was cool or not at the time the issue came up.
- They kept saying they weren't, because Stapp himself stated that Christian Rock usually follows some sort of agenda, which he said the band didn't have.
- "Spirit in the Sky": Norman Greenbaum is Jewish, but he thought it would be fun to write a gospel song, even though he knew nothing about gospel music. Of course, he had no idea that he'd end up as a One-Hit Wonder, with that song as his one hit. The fact that it has the most epic fuzz guitar riff ever recorded didn't hurt, either.
- And then Bauhaus covered it and made it sound like a funeral dirge.
- It's been a UK number one hit for another two acts: Doctor And The Medics (vaguely pagan/druidic context) and Gareth Gates and The Kumars (vaguely Hindu context).
- And it was also covered by the Christian band dc Talk, who changed one of the lyric lines to saying "I have been a sinner, we all sinned, but I have a friend in Jesus".
- Indie/folk rocker Sufjan Stevens often includes explicitly Christian themes and lyrics in his songs, and somehow manages to strike a balance between spiritual expression and Narmful God-rock.
- The members of the Soul/Metal hybrid trio King's X were all devout Christians, but explicitly resisted the Christian Rock tag. Despite that, the members religious beliefs and generally clean, vaguely spiritual lyrics led to them being treated as a Christian Rock band, and gaining a fairly large evangelical following. Then Doug Pinnick came out as being gay, and suddenly the band was being condemned from all quarters as heathens and betrayers of their Christian Rock fandom — something they had never sought in the first place.
- Here's a tricky one—Lordi's "Devil Is a Loser", in which the singer discusses the stupidity and end results of selling one's soul to the Devil. On the one hand it might just be the singer's claim that he is more powerful than the Devil (being as the singer is Mr. Lordi), on the other hand it might have some subtext relating to the Christianity of several of the band members.
- Power Metal godfathers Helloween, despite their name, have tons of songs praising God ("Save Us" being the most notable example), and several of their bandmembers are Christians. However, their secular songs far outnumber their Christian songs, so they still ultimately fall under the "secular rock" category.
- "You Raise Me Up" wasn't a Christian song. It's been altered by some groups to end up that way though, and is so prevalent that Josh Groban got lambasted for 'taking out' the Christian lyrics.
- The song was an adaptation of the "Londonderry Air". There are many different sets of lyrics that have been set to "Londonderry Air", including about a dozen Christian hymns. The oldest lyrics (Confessions of Devorgilla) and the most famous lyrics (Danny Boy) as well as many of the others contain at least a few explicit references to Christianity as well. Christian lyrics were "taken out" in the sense that the lyrics written for the new version of the melody were not religious (but even then, Josh Groban had nothing to do with it, since he didn't write the lyrics or the melody).
- Saving Jane has a couple of songs which, if you listen to them exclusively, could fool you into assuming it is a Christian band.
- Evanescence's song "Bring Me to Life" topped some Christian singles charts when it was released... only it wasn't. Until the band explicitly denied it, a lot of people thought they were Christian. The band seems to be part of a sub-genre of pop-metal bands with vaguely spiritual lyrics and comprised of entirely Christian members who spend the entirety of every interview they do denying that they're Christian rock (copies of "Fallen" were pulled from Christian store shelves when Amy Lee used profanity in one of those interviews). This kind of denial is so common that in 1999, a Christian band named Joy Electric released an album called "CHRISTIANsongs" explicitly to subvert the trend.
- Also, other songs like "Tourniquet", throwing around the words salvation, deleverance, and Jesus Christ, makes this confusion understandable. It's actually a cover of a song by a Christian death metal band, Soul Embraced.
- Evanescence formed at a church camp, so the Christians can be forgiven for jumping to conclusions.
- It also doesn't help that the band's drummer was in Soul Embraced, as well as another Christian metal band, Living Sacrifice.
- Joy Electric is an interesting case because sole member Ronnie Martin has mostly sung about depression and random, abstract stuff with very few references to Christianity for the better part of his career. A new fan would never guess that JE is a Christian project if he himself weren't so outspoken about his faith.
- Black Sabbath have some lyrics that most people would consider to be Christian if they weren't by, you know, Black Sabbath. They may be considered one of the Trope Maker bands for Heavy Metal songs about Satan, Hell and The End of the World as We Know It, but if you actually read the lyrics to some of their songs, they look more like fire-and-brimstone sermons than shout outs to the devil. (A sample of the lyrics for "After Forever" provides the quote for this page.)
- When interviewed for the documentary Metal: a Headbanger's Journey, Geezer Butler admitted the occult symbolism was basically a marketing ploy to sell records. Other interviews suggest Butler wrote the lyrics for "After Forever" specifically to address people who didn't get it.
- And in relation to Black Sabbath being an example, pretty much every song Ronnie James Dio did as a solo artist after leaving Black Sabbath could qualify as either Heavy Mithril or as direct references to Catholic imagery. This even includes his invention of the famous "Metal Horns", derived from an Italian Roman Catholic traditional ward against witchcraft.
- Cronos from Venom has said in the past that part of the reason for his choice of lyrical topics comes from his disappointment that so many Black Sabbath songs seemed so evil and apocalyptic and Satanic, then ended with "oh God please help me." So he decided to write similar lyrics, but with all the salvation ripped out.
- "Oh please God, help me."...Metallica do this in One, but it's heavily implied that his prayers are not answered.
- Parodied in this video with Nickelback: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1sB9E8mRP6E
- Of all metal bands, SLAYER actually has an interesting variation that could potentially make the heads of The Fundamentalist explode en masse a la Scanners...especially hilarious if you know the trope they have bred of being essentially Eviller Than Venom.
- The song "Silent Scream" on South Of Heaven is based on a a rather infamous anti-abortion video (showing the dismemberment of a fetus by D&X via ultrasound, very graphically focusing on the apparent death throes of the fetus). In fact, the song lyrics pretty much EXACTLY match the plotline of the film and are in part written from the perspective of the fetus being aborted.
- Of note: "Silent Scream" (the movie) is fairly obscure outside of evangelical and Catholic anti-abortion circles. Tom Araya (who penned the lyrics) is actually a rather devout Catholic.
- A few of Pete Townshend's songs, including "Bargain", "Drowned" and "Let My Love Open the Door", could be considered Christian rock... were Townshend not a quasi-Hindu pantheist who follows the teachings of Meher Baba. The latter song, according to Townshend, is explicitly written from God's POV.
- Carolina Liar's "Show Me What I'm Looking For" is indistinguishable from Christian Rock, but they've never been confirmed as Christians. The only discordant note in the video is the singer apparently just having slept with a woman. Of course, that might be exactly the type of life he's trying to escape. Or she's his wife.
- Indie band The Pixies had various Bible related songs which really stacked up to nothing in the wake of their usual incest-themed fun.
- All of their Bible or Christianity related songs were not really that religious; for example, "Dead" is just about the fact that Uriah died on the toilet, really. Black Francis liked the stories and all the incest (notice that their Christian songs are almost all old testament, the exception being "Come on Pilgrim"), rather than the message.
- Franz Ferdinand drops a fairly large number of references to Jesus, and one song, "The Fallen" is actually addressed to him. It figures, though; lead singer Alex Kapranos was a theology student for a time at the University of Glasgow.
- The Fallen could also be considered in favor of Jesus himself, but a Take That at many of his followers.
- Sticking with Glasgow-based bands, Belle and Sebastian also have a fair number of overtly Christian lyrics: "If you find yourself trapped in love / Say a prayer to the man above", for example - though not always that conventionally. "If You're Feeling Sinister" has a character who is into "S&M and Bible studies, not exactly everybody's cup of tea" (well, maybe not all in one afternoon, no).
- The song "Let It Be" has such overt religious overtones that it's often sung in churches and by choirs. The Beatles (especially Paul McCartney) deny that this song has any religious meaning, and that references to "Mother Mary" are of Paul's actual mother. The version in Across the Universe is arranged as a gospel choir piece, being performed at Jojo's son's funeral after he dies during a race riot.
- The Flaming Lips released an album called In a Priest Driven Ambulance that has many references to God and Jesus, although the singer, Wayne Coyne is an atheist. Wayne said, "Oh, it's not a Christian album. We just used the name Jesus in the songs." In any case, the fact that their first album has a song named "Jesus Shootin' Heroin" is clue enough about their not being Christian rock.
- Most of the songs by Spiritualized use faith as a theme (as you would expect with this band name), and how the singer fails to be saved (notably from substance abuse). He sometimes resorts to begging to an unseen God. Their sound is orchestral and processional. Good examples are
- "The Straight and the Narrow":
The trouble with the straight and the narrow is it's so thin I keep sliding of to the side.
And the devil makes good use of these hands of mine.
And if Jesus is the straight path that saves then I'm content to live my whole life on the curb.
On the crossroads of the devil out where I'll count my years.
Sweet lord I know I hate this lonely life so.
Lord I know, time goes slow, I feel so alone. Sweet lord.
Sweet lord is this my fate to live my life in this state.
Lord I pray I long for a change but it still remains. Sweet lord.
- And from the same singer's earlier band Spacemen 3:
I walked with Jesus and he would say
"Oh you poor child, you ain't comin' to me no way
You've found Heaven on Earth, gonna burn for your sin"
But I think I'll be in good company down there with all my friends
So listen sweet Lord, forgive me my sin
Cos I can't stand this life without sweet heroin
- Both the music and lyrics of Dire Straits' "Solid Rock" sound incredibly churchy, but it doesn't have any specific Biblical or God-related references.
- And then there's "Ticket to Heaven" where the (imaginary) singer is clearly sincere about his belief, though the song itself is a pretty cynical jab at televangelists.
- Surprisingly, fans of the Red Hot Chili Peppers try to interpret most of their lyrics as Christian, when it's quite obvious that the music has few remote references to Christianity, with the occasional notable exception.
- The same goes for "Savior," which is about his dad, even if it sounds a bit more like it's about Superman.
- The song Shallow Be Thy Game is interesting in that it's condemning religious corruption but acknowledges the existence of an all-loving God.
- The Neutral Milk Hotel song "The King of Carrot Flowers Part 2" contains the repeated opening line of "I love you, Jesus Christ" (although you never find anything obviously religious in any other Neutral Milk Hotel songs, and they are certainly not what you'd call "Christian rock"). Some fans interpreted it as a joke on Christians or simply just sarcasm on Jeff Mangum's (the songwriter's) part, but when asked about it, he simply explained that it had previously been written for a friend of his, then the meaning of the song changed for him so he rewrote it about Jesus (apparently really meaning it).
- The members of the French electronic band Justice are Christian, with the Christian cross appearing prominently in their logo — but while some of their songs have biblical titles, these songs are instrumental, and their lyrical songs have nothing to do with Christianity (and more about things like bragging about one's ability to get into non-exclusive clubs).
- All the members of pop-punk band Paramore are Christian, although only a few songs have explicitly religious lyrics. Still, it's important enough to them that Hayley Williams felt the need to apologize on her website for using God's name in vain in one of their songs.
- A lot of Nick Cave songs have theological themes, as they do allusions to everything else under the sun. Cave is a Christian, and his father was an Anglican minister, though it in no way prevents him from performing amazingly scary-ass songs when the situation calls for it.
- 80's jangle pop group Guadalcanal Diary used Christian and Catholic imagery in their lyrics frequently, but they sang songs from the perspectives of the pious and righteous, as well as the cynical and impious, never truly picking one over the other.
- After Dave Mustaine's conversion to Christianity circa 2004, he started including Christian elements in a few of his songs, mostly involving the Biblical apocalypse. These tend to be dark enough to make people wonder if Mustaine is serious or if he simply uses the darker prophesies for dark entertainment.
- The System Has Failed has "The Scorpion," "Truth Be Told," "Of Mice and Men," and "Shadow of Deth."
- United Abominations has "Never Walk Alone... A Call to Arms" and "Blessed are the Dead,"
- And way back on his first album he wrote "Looking Down The Cross" which was about as Christian as you could get. He still had the apocalyptic tone in the second half of the song, though. It may not have been as much a 'conversion' as a public admission of his faith.
- Endgame's title track can be interpreted to be all about the Mark of the Beast.
- Jethro Tull's Aqualung straddles the fence between Christian Rock and Not Christian Rock - it contains songs about why Ian Anderson lost his respect for the Church of England.
- John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats is a lapsed Catholic and now occasional churchgoer, but spiritual and religious themes crop up continually in his work, most notably on The Life of the World to Come on which every song was named after, and inspired by or related to, a verse from the Bible.
- This is particularly funny for regular readers of Decibel Magazine, as one of his "South Pole Dispatch" columns is about him being denied entry into heaven because of a Mercyful Fate tattoo he has.
- "Where is the Love", by the Black Eyed Peas, which includes the line, "Father Father Father help us, send some guidance from above."
- Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven" tends to be an odd mix between this and Not Satanic Rock. While some devout Christians have tried to make the song out to be Satanic (especially with the purported subliminal messages), some other Christians have opted to take the exact opposite approach, and have interpreted the song to actually have a pro-Christian message.
- For example, the lines "Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run / There's still time to change the road you're on" might be interpreted as a message about the possibility of repentance and redemption.
- In addition, Led Zeppelin had also covered two songs by Christian blues musician Blind Willie Johnson - Nobody's Fault But Mine and In My Time of Dying, although some of the more overtly religious lyrics from the former had been changed.
- Also, several of the band's songs contain references to the works of J.R.R. Tolkien - who was a Christian author and close friends of C.S. Lewis, another Christian author.
- 16 Horsepower flirts with this trope; it probably helps that nobody much (Christians included) reads all those depressing minor prophets at the back of the Old Testament with their Doomy Dooms of Doom...
- David Eugene Edwards, the singer and main songrwriter for 16HP, is a very devout Christian. None of the other bandmembers (who occasionally wrote songs) were Christians. This is part of the reason why the band broke up. This trope applies even more to Edwards's later work as Wovenhand.
- "For The Greater Good of God" by Iron Maiden anyone? Nicko Mcbrain is a born-again Christian so that helps too.
- Steve Harris has said that the song isn't really pro- or anti-religion. It's just asking questions.
- "Number of the Beast" while we're at it.
- Wasn't that song the strawman Moral Guardians used to try to prove metal is satanic? But if you listen to the lyrics closer...it's a lot more like a fire-and-brimstone sermon than a Satanic tribute song.
- "Moonchild" is told by the POV of Satan (who even namedrops: "be the devils own Lucifer's my name").
- And "Hallowed Be Thy Name". The Other Wiki quotes Steve Harris as saying "having faith, whether it be in religion or whatever, but could that faith fail you at the last second when you need it most?". Make of that what you will.
- "The Thin Line Between Love and Hate" follows the same line ("I will hope, my soul will fly, and I will live forever").
- "Heaven Can Wait" can be interpreted as anti-Christian, since it seems to depict God and His angels as benevolent dictators who are going to bestow on you eternal life whether you like it or not.
- "Brighter than a Thousand Suns" seems pretty Christian too.
- Norwegian rocker Jorn Lande has so much Christian symbolism in his works at times it's hard to tell whether things like "Behind the Clown" are really stealth Christian songs.
- Listen closely to Beyoncé's "Halo" sometime. Is it a song about forbidden love no longer denied, or about a past skeptic having a religious experience?
- Heavy Metal band Lamb Of God are occasionally mistaken for a Christian band, for obvious reasons. Once people actually listen to their songs and/or find out that they used to be known as Burn the Priest they will usually reconsider. This trope was played with on their video for "Redneck," where the group is booked for a child's birthday party.
- Also seen in the video for "Ruin", where they play to a bewildered church congregation.
- The Hold Steady write songs about Catholicism, but they're not a Christian rock band. It's all mixed up in drug taking, sex, and teenage rebellion anyway...
"I guess I heard about original sin, I heard the dude blamed the chick, I heard the chick blamed the snake. I heard they were naked when they got busted, and I heard things ain't been the same since."
- System of a Down's "Chop Suey!" almost sounds like it could be about the crucifixion, what with its talk of self-righteous suicide and angels deserving to die. And, you know, actually quoting Jesus on the cross. It's actually about the Armenians genocide by the Turkish. Which explains the Jesus-quote:
Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.
Father, into your hands...
Why have you forsaken me?
In your eyes forsaken me.
In your heart forsaken me.
In your thoughts forsaken me.
- Another, perhaps more obvious interpretation is that the song is about suicide bombers. Especially since the song was originally called "Suicide", as evidenced by the spoken "We're rolling 'Suicide'." in the beginning of the song.
- Subverted with Tori Amos. She tends to write songs with religious references in them, but considering her style, nobody thinks her music is pro-Christian in any way. Take "Icicle" for example; a song about masturbating to Jesus.
- A lot of people think Godsmack is a Christian band simply because of their name.
- Which is actually from the title of an Alice In Chains song.
- More than a few people think that Genesis is a Christian band.
- Somewhat understandable, especially during the Peter Gabriel era. "Supper's Ready" is largely about the Apocalypse, and ends with the Second Coming of Jesus.
- And that their first album was called "From Genesis to Revelation".
- They also did a song called "Jesus He Knows Me" (it's actually about shady TV evangelists, but still ...)
- Or a Christian video game console.
- Tony Mills' song "God Called My Name" could easily be on a Stryper album, but he himself was irreligious (though he does believe in God) at the time. Then there's the entire solo album "Freeway To The Afterlife" where he does gospel...
- He stated recently in an interview he wants to start a Christian Rock project eventually.
- "Turn! Turn! Turn!" is taken straight from the Book of Ecclesiastes with only some slight re-arrainging and two new lines (the title refrain and the ending line "I swear it's not too late"), but neither the song's writer (Pete Seeger) nor the band responsible for the best-known recording of it (The Byrds) are considered to be Christian artists.
- The authorship of Ecclesiastes is disputed, but whoever wrote it was presumably Jewish (and lived at least 200 years before Jesus).
- Lifehouse at least has Christian members, but their music isn't explicitly Christian and several songs sound pretty spiritual but have been interpreted to be more soft-rockish love songs ("Everything," "Spin," "The First Time," etc.). This gets confusing when they have songs that seem to be explicitly about a romantic relationship ("You and Me" would be pretty difficult to interpret as religious). To be fair lots of openly Christian bands also write romantically oriented songs: Relient K, Delirious?, etc.
- Human Fortress is a typical power metal band, until they throw a song like "Defenders of the Crown" at you.
God, sons ask for Thyself to honor Jesus' majesty
We shall return proud from the sea
Richard the Lionheart, the leader of the century
Fought for the cross, for Christianity
- Avenged Sevenfold has a lot of Christian imagery in some of their songs (referencing the Book of Revelation, and a song called Dear God, along with others like it). However if you listen to (and watch the videos for) songs like Beast and the Harlot, Bat Country, and ironically, A Little Piece of Heaven...
- Note that the aforementioned "Beast and the Harlot" doesn't just reference Revelation, it's pretty much pulled directly from it and rearranged a bit.
- And their name itself is likely a reference to the biblical Mark of Cain, with which God said, "Not so; if anyone kills Cain, he will suffer vengeance seven times over" (in other words, were Cain to be killed, he would be avenged sevenfold).
- They also have a song about Cain and Abel ("Chapter 4", named for the chpter in Genesis which the story occours.)
- But, on the other hand, they also recorded a song called "God Hates Us". Furthermore, according to M Shadows, some of the songs from the band's latest album (Hail to the King) are challenging the concept of God and religion.
- Also, it is interesting to note that Arin Ilejay (the drummer that replaced the late Jimmy "The Rev" Sullivan) had played in a Christian band called Confide. However, nothing is known about Arin's current religious beliefs. Synyster Gates had made it clear a few times that he's an atheist. And the other band members appear to have their personal spiritual beliefs. All the members (except for Arin) have, at various times, made it clear that they have no use for organized religion.
- With the song "Without Faith", which is about how if God's proven to exist, he won't and the Bible reference in their name, it's not surprising ThouShaltNot often gets mistaken for Christian Rock.
- Canadian singer-songwriter Bruce Cockburn converted to Christianity early in his career, and often incorporates Christian themes in his work, but it's typically done in a subtle and non-overt manner.
- Some of AFI's lyrics have Christian-inspired imagery... further inspection of their other lyrics show that Davey was only raised Catholic, but is far from what you'd call practicing.
- Switchfoot frequently gets the Christian Rock label, but the band itself views itself as being this trope.
"As a Christian, I have a lot to say within the walls of the church. But also, as a Christian, I've got a lot to say just about life in general."
- Killswitch Engage has tons of Bible-influenced lyrics, but the band doesn't describe itself as Christian metal.
- The Finnish band HIM or H.I.M. (which may or may not stand for His Infernal Majesty, depending on which interview you believe) is sometimes found listed under Christian music. Perhaps because they have a song titled "The Face of God" which is actually, like the vast majority of their songs, about a very earthly kind of love.
- Tom Waits's "Way Down In The Hole" has lyrics about Jesus and Satan, and has been covered by Christian band The Blind Boys of Alabama. The song's existence has less to do with any religious preference on the part of Mr. Waits, but rather his interest in gospel- and blues-influenced folk music and Americana, which has a long-standing tradition of evangelism to it. After all, this is the same man who once opined: "...there ain't no Devil/There's just God when he's drunk."
- "Jesus Gonna Be Here" seems like a pretty explicitly Christian-themed song at first, but the tone of the lyrics is pretty tongue-in-cheek and it may all be from the point of view of an Unreliable Narrator who isn't as pious as he claims to be. The most obvious sign of it not being meant as a straight ode to salvation is the following passage:
I got to keep myself faithful
And you know I've been so good,
Except for drinkin'
But He knew that I would...
- Iron & Wine includes a lot of christian references in his songs, even overtly referring to God and the Devil at several points. This is especially notable on The Shepherd's Dog. Despite this, he's definitely not Christian Rock and even diverges from anything resembling the Christian worldview a lot of the time.
- Collective Soul have gone on record stating that they're not a Christian rock band, but that they have a general spiritual feeling to their songs. It's not helped by the fact that the father of the Roland brothers was a minister and their first big hit, "Shine", features the chorus "Heaven let your light shine down!"
- The concept of a "collective soul" is more peculiar to Hinduism and Buddhism than to Western religions, anyway.
- In fact, a lot of Collective Soul's earlier stuff could indeed be confused with (albeit vague) Christian rock, particularly including lines such as "This blessedness of life/sometimes brings me to my knees/I call on thee", and in the same song including the religious imagery "The sky now divides/to bring you back into the fold/welcome home" and "maybe God you've found". On the same album, the song "Giving" is pretty much about God, although one could claim it's about a woman. But who would sing to any woman "Giving me cause so I may yearn/Giving me words so I may learn", "Giving me faith so I'll believe" or "Giving me breath of your mercy"? For that matter, that album's first single, "Precious Declaration", includes the line "I was blind but now I see/salvation has discovered me". The song "Reunion" from their second album is pretty much about going to Heaven, and includes a gospel choir backing them up. Listen to the lyrics on their first album, particularly to songs like "Reach" ("Come on, Gabriel, boy, and blow your horn..." "Can I ask you just to light my way..."). Ed Roland claims this is mostly because his music is influenced by his religious upbringing, so of course religious imagery figures into his songs. But boy, some of those early songs could easily have been performed by Petra or Whiteheart...
- Audioslave has spiritual overtones in their music, with songs like "Show Me How To Live" and "Last Remaining Light". "Show Me How To Live"'s lyrics are very spiritual in nature with a reference to Jesus's crucifixion:
Nail in my hand
From my creator
You gave me life now
Show me how to live
- "Are You Gonna Go My Way" by Lenny Kravitz is a song which basically combines the message of Jesus Christ with an Epic Riff. Kravitz has explicitly stated that the song is about Christ and that "Jesus was a pretty cool guy."
- "Just put your faith in God and one day you'll see/If you want it, you got it, you just got to believe/Believe in yourself..."
- 90's alternative rockers Soundgarden could hardly be accused of using religious imagery in their songs...could they? One of their biggest hits, "Black Hole Sun", is about the end of the world. Based on the title, one could think it's about the world being sucked into a black hole and destroyed, but one line says "Heaven, send Hell away/No one sings like you anymore..."
- '80s pop/rock band The Hooters wrote several very spiritual-sounding songs, the most notable of which is their minor hit "All You Zombies", which deals specifically about people rejecting God's authority and salvation and how they are the "zombies" referenced in the song's title. One might think that they're Christian based on that, but Hooters songwriters Eric Bazilian and Rob Hyman (who would later also write the Christian-sounding "One Of Us" [as in, "What if God was one of us?"] for Joan Osborne in the '90s) were both Jewish.
- The Goo Goo Dolls' 2006 hit "Better Days" starts out talking about what the singer wants for Christmas ("just a chance that maybe we'll find better days"), and later explicitly references "one poor child who saved this world" and "tonight's the night the world begins again." Their breakout hit "Iris" also caused some confusion over whether it was supposed to communicate Christian messages, but the song was written for a movie about angels and closely parallels the experiences of the movie's angel protagonist. Interestingly, as of 2010 the Goo Goo Dolls are touring with legitimately-Christian (though with crossover appeal) group Switchfoot.
- Insane Clown Posse's Joker's Card cycle of albums are an allegory for judgement day, Shangri-La for Heaven, Hell's Pit... well, you get the idea. However, only member Violent J is explicitly Christian; Shaggy 2 Dope says that he doesn't follow any religion.
- Midnight Oil. Australian pub rock band famous for their left-wing activism, but the born-again Christians in the band (including singer Peter Garrett, who is now a politician) pretty much never mentioned it in the context of their work. However, writings about the band (particularly Strict Rules) noted at length the tensions between the Christians and the non-Christians in daily band life.
- An interesting case: "Jesus Walks", by Kanye West. While the lyrics are overtly Christian, it still has a sound that could appeal to any top 40 radio station.
- Michael Gira, the admittedly agnostic leader of the notorious art-rock band Swans, often incorporates references to religion into his lyrics, most notably on the evangelist-inspired 1987 concept album Children Of God. Granted, many of the songs are a bit creepy and/or confrontational for devotional music, but Gira himself stated that the title song was intended as an earnest tribute to belief. Which is not to say that it isn't horribly depressing...
- Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah", which contains many Biblical allusions, including those to Biblical figures such as King David and Samson. There's also its title. However, the song is most widely interpreted as a kind of allegorical break-up song. That hasn't stopped some from singing in church, although sometimes with altered lyrics.
- Cohen himself is an observant Jew who happens to also be a Buddhist monk. Yes, seriously.
- There's a fair amount of Catholic imagery in Cohen's lyrics. Which seems odd until you remember that he's from Montreal.
- Before you ask: Nine Inch Nails is not a reference to Jesus being nailed to the cross.
- George Harrison's "My Sweet Lord" starts out sounding Christian...until the backing vocals start singing "Hare Krishna".
- In stark contrast to the stereotypical quasi-Satanic colloquialisms associated with Heavy Metal, "Doomsday For The Deceiver" by Thrash Metal band Flotsam & Jetsam is about the devil getting his just desserts.
- And the cover of the album it's on depicts Satan being ripped limb from limb by the band's mascot Flotzilla.
- The sincere-sounding song "Jesus" by the Velvet Underground was written by Lou Reed, a Jew.
- Florence + the Machine's religiously themed lyrics can be misconstrued into being christian rock. However considering that her music is influenced by gothic art (which had heavy religious themes) this probably isn't the case.
- Disco group Fan Death's song "Veronica's Veil" is about Saint Veronica told from Veronica's point of view. This is quite odd considering Dadillion Wind Opaine (vocalist of Fan Death) has criticized religion in another song.
- "The Catalyst" by Linkin Park is a song that can pretty much be described as a desperate prayer to God asking him to save us from all the corrupt war in this world. Also, "What I've Done" is basiclly a song about forgiving your sins. Some members of the band are infact Christian, however they are not a Christian band.
- Mike Oldfield has put so many Christian-sounding lyrics and themes in his music that he had to be asked in interview if it was intentional. His reponse, in oh so many words, was, "I'm not religious; I'm spiritual."
- The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus do not describe themselves as a Christian band and are often played on regular rock stations; however, many of their songs, such as "Don't Lose Hope," contain Christian themes. It's even been speculated that "Wake Me Up" is about Christ, not a girl.
- Crash Test Dummies' early work often contained lyrics which might be seen as Christian, but Brad Roberts, who wrote them, is not. The album God Shuffled His Feet in particular concerns a number of theological themes, but it is the only album where the main theme is such topics. In fact most of the songs are agnostic and either question religion or question subjects which can't be explained by it. Also, there is a song called "Fundies Never Have Fun On Sundays" on their first demo tape and a song on their first album "The Ghosts That Haunt Me" called "Here On Earth" which mentions his grandfather, who led a "good Christian life". Brad Roberts, their singer has also recorded a version of "(What If God Was) One Of Us" which was actually written for him, based on his agnostic lyrics. He did not release it officially because his musical style had moved on since then and he was probably fed up with people not realising his viewpoint.
- Attack Attack!'s lyrics are full of Christian allegories and themes, including the ones in the video that spawned crabcore, but have stated that not all members of the band are Christian and thus they do not consider themselves a Christian band.
- Chevelle was mislabeled a Christian band due to the first label they signed with being a mostly Christian label and some vaguely Biblically allusions in their lyrics. This led to a controversy with some bands they shared the stage with on tour at Ozzfest and among fans of Ozzfest who were upset about "religious preaching" being present there when that was never the band's intention and they did everything possible to distance themselves from being considered a Christian band.
- mewithoutYou is a particularly interesting example, as they have no issues being blatantly religious and spiritual in both their lyrics and their interviews...but not in the way most Christians are comfortable with, taking influences not only from the Bible and Christianity, but also Jewish mythology, Sufi Islamic poets and even secular philosophers. The members are avowed Christians, but view their faith as part of a broader context than the traditional evangelical subculture, making them relatively controversial in those circles (especially the song "Allah, Allah, Allah").
- This is partially because two of the band's members, Aaron (vocalist) and Michael (guitarist) Weiss were raised in a Sufi household; their father is ethnically Jewish. Both brothers converted to Christianity later in life. Aaron Weiss has stated that mwY is not an evangelical band.
- Influential Emo band Mineral is an interesting case. On the one hand a very good percentage of their lyrics were obvious references to Jesus and God and frequently referenced or even quoted The Bible. On the other hand the band frequently played with secular bands, never associated with the Christian music scene, and never spoke of religion publicly outside of their lyrics. Debating whether they should be considered a Christian band is a surefire way to start an Internet Backdraft.
- The Metalcore band Across Five Aprils never intended to be a Christian band, but frequently ended up playing with Christian bands and by fluke even at a Christian fest, lending to misconception that they were. This no doubt led to quite a confusion when they released songs with titles like "Tallahassee Is For Hookers".
- Post-rock group A Silver Mt. Zion has been mistaken for being a Christian band at least once (track 4) simply because of their name. The group does use Judeo-Christian imagery a little here and there, but primary vocalist Efrim Menuck, while Jewish in descent and culture, has claimed to be an atheist on more than once occasion.
- Moving Mountains are occasionally mistaken for a Christian band due to a name that could be a Bible reference and frequent references to the Bible and spirituality in their lyrics, but the band says that they are not heavily religious or a Christian band. They also have used the word "fuck" in their lyrics as well...
- Despite their name, Aussie psych rockers The Church aren't Christian Rock, tho they've veered tangentially into such territory on rare occasions. "Radiance".
- In This Moment can be considered this, especially with their song "Ashes". The song is about the Apocalypse, and the bridge (below) even makes a reference to the star Wormwood.
It is said hail and fire mixed with blood will be thrown down upon the earth
Darkness fills a third of the land
And the angels will cry woe
A star from the heavens is thrown from the sky
Destroying a third of the seas
Not only these things but more will come
It is our fate
It is the end
- We Came As Romans has been mistaken for being Christian Metalcore because some of their songs have an uplifting theme/message in their lyrics.
- Brand New are definitely not a Christian band, but you could be forgiven for thinking that after listening to "Jesus Christ".
- V.A.S.T. could very easily pass for a Christian Rock band, especially what with the song "I'm Dying"'s lyrics; but when you take the rest of their songs into consideration....well "I didn't want to fuck you baby but you're pretty when you cry" isn't exactly a Christian rock lyric.
- Flyleaf has some explicity religious songs, alongside others that are not explicity religious but are easily interpreted that way, but they prefer not to call themselves Christian Rock.
- Further confusion arrises from the fact that all of the members are Christian.
- Death/Thrash/Groove metal band The Showdown is an interesting case. Their first album is clearly Christian (all of the songs are bible stories, and the last song is a prayerfully song power ballad about finding rest in Heaven), but after that album, the Christian refrences got more and more subtle (they are still there however). All the members are Christians, but they do not consider themselves a Christian band.
- Rob Halford told once of a humorous incident in 1977 when he and the other members of Judas Priest were hosted for the night by a convent full of nuns, who (he says) must have assumed that they were a Christian rock band because of their name. (It's actually an old-timey euphemism for "Jesus Christ" used as a swear word, much like "Jiminy Christmas.") He was careful not to let them know that the album the group was just about to record was called Sin After Sin, or that its very first song has as its chorus, "Sacrifice to vice or die by the hand of the Sinner!"
- This arguably goes back to the very beginnings of rock 'n' roll, with the 1958 folk-rock song "Make Me a Miracle" by Jimmie Rodgers (not the country singer, by the way). The song is probably addressed simply to a girl the narrator pines for, but because it is more somber and much less "pop" than other Silly Love Songs of The Fifties, and because it features a chorus of chanting men who sound kind of like Gregorian monks, and because it contains the words "miracle" (of course), "choir," and "chalice," and finally because the person being addressed comes across as having nearly omnipotent power ("You can make a fabulous thing of me...or nothing at all"), it's not hard to imagine that "my love" in the song is God! (In fact, one might hope it is God, because otherwise the final line - "You can make whatever you want of me/Just make me your love" - sounds a bit creepy.) Bottom line, "Make Me a Miracle" is either this or a very early example of Heavy Mithril.
- When someone remarked upon the spiritual nature of Paul Simon's 2011 album So Beautiful Or So What, with its many references to God and angels, Paul was surprised; he hadn't noticed.
- Manchester Orchestra, especially on their never-officially-released first album, often make direct references to God, though it swings between cynicism and reverence.
- "Religion Song (Put Away The Gun)" by Everything Else.
- Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark are Not Christian Rock (or even Christian Synthpop) but are quite heavily influenced by Andy McCluskey's Catholic upbringing.
- WASP has been looking more and more like this with their latest albums, especially "Babylon". But look at their older, scarier material like "Animal (Fuck Like A Beast)" and it's clear WASP is only HELMED by a Christian recently.
- Twisted Sister fall into this, with songs like "Sin After Sin" and "Burn in Hell" being warnings about sin, "Kill or be Killed" being about the end times (with the last line sung being "burn or save your soul") and "Power and the Glory" being a song in praise of God for a conversion. Dee Snyder is a Christian, but the band isn't considered Christian rock.
- Their song "Out on the Streets" seems to hint at the existence of Heaven toward the end:
Somewhere, there's a place for me...
Is this dreaming to be free
- Similarly, Oingo Boingo's "Just Another Day" also hints a bit at the End Times, describing a mass extinction of humanity following a nuclear war and then describing "a place in the stars...for when you get old." (History's very earliest idea about the afterlife, posited by the ancient Egyptians, is that virtuous souls became stars and lived with the sun god Ra.)
- Mumford and Sons have songs with very strong Christian subtext but are not explicitly a Christian group. "Roll Away Your Stone," which alludes to the Parable of the Prodigal Son, is probably the most obvious.
It seems that all my bridges have been burned
But you say 'That's exactly how this grace thing works'
It's not the long walk home that will change this heart
But the welcome I receive with a re-start
- "From A Distance" by Bette Midler has fallen subject to this, and has even been covered by some contemporary Christian singers. This despite the fact that the songs make no specific references to a Christian God — and this tendency has been criticized by other Evangelical Christians, due to the belief that the song goes against basic Christian doctrine (God doesn't watch us "from a distance", He's right next to us
- Queen had a song on their first album called "Jesus", which was about, well you guessed it. Freddie Mercury, who wrote the song, was raised Zoroastrian, however.
- A song that was cut from the first album (but later made it onto the B-side of "Headlong" in 1991, 18 years later) is called "Mad the Swine", and is about a Jesus-like figure that has "come to save" the people. However, this is more of a Crystal Dragon Jesus than an overtly religious song.
- Ronnie Milsap's "What a Difference You've Made in My Life" is often covered by Christian acts despite not being an explicitly Christian song — the lyrics just happen to be open-ended enough that they can be seen as being sung to God. This interpretation may have been helped by the fact that Amy Grant also recorded the song.
- Thrice is an interesting example. Dustin Kensrue and Teppei Teranishi, the singer and lead guitarist, are both devout Christians, and as such many of the band's lyrics deal heavily with Christian themes (though this is usually done in a way that allows for alternate interpretations as well). However, Eddie and Riley Breckenridge, the bassist and drummer, are not Christians. Most of the band's popularity is within the secular market, which has always been fine with everyone involved—Dustin and Teppei want to reach a wider audience and avoid restrictive labels, while Eddie and Riley want nothing to do with an industry founded on beliefs they don't hold. Still, it's pretty much a given that this subject will be brought up at least once during any interview with the band or one of its members.
- Ariya's album "Кровь за кровь" (Blood for Blood) is mostly this, using Christian themes along with otherwise religious/mystical themes, but featuring a lot of dark lyrics.
- Singer/Songwriter John Fullbright makes extensive use of Biblical themes (with titles including "Gawd Above," "Jericho," and "Satan and St. Paul"), and has stated that although the inspiration comes from his mother's Bible lessons, he himself isn't particularly religious.
- Rascal Flatts' "I Won't Let Go", according to one of its co-writers, can be interpreted as Christian-themed. ("I will stand by you / I will help you through / When you've done all you can do / If you can't cope / I will dry your eyes / I will fight your fight / I will hold you tight / And I won't let go")
- Like Killswitch Engage, many of All That Remains' lyrics can be interpreted as addressing a higher power, particularly "Not Alone."
- And Lizzy Borden also has an example of Not Christian Rock with the song "Rod of Iron"; it's about the Second Coming in Revelation (and specifically Jesus casting the Devil, Death and the Devil's followers into the Lake of Fire after the seven-year reign of the Antichrist on earth).
- This is doubly hilarious seeing as Lizzy Borden is a theatrical Power Metal artist whom at the time had a stage show based on his Ax-Crazy namesake and who has subsequently done stage shows where he's played both the Devil AND Death.
- Paul Overstreet did three albums for RCA Records between 1989 and 1992 that were mostly mainstream country — they accounted for ten Top 40 hits on the country charts. Despite having no more Christian content than your average country album (his biggest solo hit, "Daddy's Come Around", was about a formerly deadbeat dad cleaning himself up), his albums charted on the Christian albums chart and netted him three Dove awards for their content. They were also produced by Brown Bannister, who is primarily a CCM producer and songwriter.
- Asia's Aura album was mistaken to be Christian Rock, particularly their cover of the 10cc song "Ready To Go Home".
- Some of DevinTownsend's material after Strapping Young Lad dissolved can seem like this, especially after he got clean. Some of the songs off of Epicloud contain lyrics that say things like "stay with me lord" or "Jesus is a coming and He wants more," and songs like "True North" and "Grace" talk a lot about what sounds like a spiritual love rather than an earthly one (the latter even uses a gospel chorus).
- Quiet Company's second album is full of Christian imagery, but is actually about a man who starts to doubt whether or not God exists. Lead singer Taylor Muse described it as a break-up album with religion. The narrator finally decides that it doesn't matter as long as we are happy.
- From "The Black Sheep And The Shepherd"
Sometimes I can't believe the things those preachers have the nerve to say to me
But maybe the things that I'd have to say to them are really just as bad
Because the only times I ever thought of suicide, I was waiting on the lord to direct my life
Saying "give me one word and I'll put down the knife and I'll never pick it up again."
But luckily I held out long enough to see that everybody really makes their own destiny.
It's a beautiful thing. It's just you and me, exactly where we belong
And there's nothing inherently wrong with us.
- The influential metalcore group Zao is an interesting example. Beginning their career in the mid-90's as an overtly Christian hardcore band, they eventually shifted their sound to what would become known as metalcore, and underwent numerous lineup changes throughout the years. As the band gained and lost members, they also began gradually toning down their religious roots, while never quite abandoning them. The current incarnation of Zao features both Christian and non-Christian members, but since vocalist/lyricist Dan Weyandt is a Christian, the lyrics often have spiritual undertones. Whether or not they still qualify as a Christian band is an issue that is debated amongst fans to this day, and it appears that even the band members themselves can't quite decide.