Song of the Day: Lightforce - Metal Missionary

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Lightforce was a heavy metal band from Australia, active in the late 1980s. They recorded 3 cassette demos from 1986-87, before getting the attention of US-based Pure Metal Records. The band’s label debut Mystical Thieves was a unique entry in Christian metal. While based in traditional heavy metal, it touched on speed metal and power metal without ever fully crossing into thrash territory. It was heavy, loud, and raw.

In 1990 the band recorded a fourth and final demo called Break the Curse, which saw the band going in an even heavier direction, just before changing their name. This was no doubt to reflect the changes in sound as well as drastic members changes. The new band was called Mortification, and the only original Lightforce member that carried on was bassist Steve Rowe, who also proceeded to take over vocal duties.

The exploits of Mortification are well-known in the Christian metal world, and also in the secular metal world to a degree. However, for all of the musical notoriety (and I mostly mean that in a good way–Post-Momentary Affliction anyone?!?) Lightforce was a decent band in its own right. They had interesting songs, meaningful lyrics, and often complex arrangements that hinted at the heaviness that was to come.

“Metal Missionaries” serves as an anthem for bands and also fans within Christian metal who were scorned both inside the church and also in the secular metal scene, yet felt called to share the Gospel in such a precarious way. In fact the lyrics are so relevant, even 30 years later, that they’re worth including here:

You got saved last year but your pastor says you wear your hair
Lookin’ like the world you left
Take off the acid jeans put on something nice and neat
You can’t look like the street you love

But I can see a different way it matters only how you pray
Not the way you look or dress
If you’re right with Jesus Christ, into heavy metal styles
Then go back to the scene and share

Become a metal missionary, lookin’ like Jesus did
Metal missionary, love the people Jesus said
Go into the world of sinners, and see them won
Metal missionary, relate the way you are
Metal missionary

They know a change has taken place
Not in your dress but in your face
The window to your soul is shining bright
The difference is so very clear, smoke and drugs and hate and fear
Are nowhere to be found within your ways
They will want the peace you have
Go and join the rebel gangs
Win them for the Lord you love
Together we will plunder hell, bands and groups and rebel gangs
All because we want to be

Become a metal missionary, lookin’ like Jesus did
Metal missionary, love the people Jesus said
Go into the world of sinners, and see them won
Metal missionary, relate the way you are
Metal missionary

You got mocked last week for sharing at a metal gig
Someone almost punched you out
But suffer for Christ
You’ll see the population rise of Heaven
With the souls you’ve lead
Go into all the world, the darkest corners
Will have heard that Christ has died to save their soul
The more that go the more will hear
We’ll see them on the narrow road

Become a metal missionary, lookin’ like Jesus did
Metal missionary, love the people Jesus said
Go into the world of sinners, and see them won
Metal missionary, relate the way you are
Metal missionary

The album was re-issued through Soundmass Records in 2019, and Steve’s own Rowe Productions issued some of the band earlier demo material re-packaged in the early 2000s.

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