For some of you, this SOTD will stretch the limits of what “Indie Vision Music” should cover. Glam metal was at the height of the commercialization of rock and roll in the late 80s, thus rendering Stryper’s inclusion here as suspect. But here are a few reasons why they absolutely deserve to be here:
1. They were, and possibly are still, the most important and/or influential Christian rock/metal band of all time. Yes, it’s true. With number one singles, album sales that rivaled their secular peers, and heavy rotation on MTV (when it still stood for “Music Television”), their impact is still felt far and wide. Even students as far-reaching as Steve Rowe (of death metal stalwarts Mortification) have recognized their debt to Stryper, claiming “Stryper proved that we could do it. We just wanted to do it in a heavier way” (quoted in HM Magazine). The only Christian metal band that can rival them in terms of sales and influence is P.O.D., and I would argue that if it wasn’t for Stryper, P.O.D. couldn’t have done what they did.
2. Stryper have always been on indie record labels (aside from a few re-issues and compilations). Their label home in the early days was the mainstream indie Enigma Records (ironically home to mostly punk and alternative bands). Their last six studio albums have been for European metal label Frontiers. They’re an indie band!
3. Despite playing a more commercial form of the genre, Stryper nonetheless play heavy metal. In fact, they’ve always mixed their glam with traditional metal. And while punk and indie snobs might turn their noses up, consider the following: glam/hair metal is to heavy metal what pop-punk is to punk rock and emo is to hardcore.
4. My last reason is a personal one: I just saw them live (for the very first time) on Tuesday, and they were absolutely incredible! I’ve never been a huge fan of Stryper, mainly because I tended to prefer heavier forms of metal. Still, I’ve always respected their musicianship, and their lyrical integrity. Even after playing together for more than 40 years, they were really tight live. Michael can still hit those high notes when he wants to, and the dual guitar attack with him and Oz Fox was impressive. Robert Sweet is a maniac on the drums and Perry Richardson (formerly of Firehouse) keeps that bottom-end going with the bass guitar.
But what struck me when I saw them live is just how boldly evangelistic the band are–even despite spending nearly their entire career on secular record labels. Nearly every song is a plea with the listener to put their faith in Jesus and receive the love of God. In honor of the “Calling on You” tour, our Song of the Day is the tour’s namesake. The song was their biggest hit, taken from 1986’s To Hell with the Devil, and went to number 1 on MTV competing against bands like Motley Crue, Cinderella, Poison, Warrant, and so forth. Thank you Stryper, for your consistency in music and message.