"While sister Christian groups, Undercover and The Altar Boys, flirt with a more accessible sound, O.B.P is just plain raw. A Christian Banned belongs next to The Dead Kennedy's or an unmentionable mainstream group whose members included Johnny Rotten and Sid Vicious. - One Bad Pig's album review in Harvest Rock Syndicate
In the last year, the foremost trend among the religious rockers has become obvious. These performers are going to become more easily identified with the world.
From my research, as well as concerts attended by my staff, there is no question that the music is taking a rawer, louder approach with most groups - while some are steering their direction totally secular although they desperately want the support of the Christian community.
Last year when several of the religious rockers and others involved in gospel music met in Baton Rouge to talk with me, one of the preachers present made a statement I've never forgotten.
"Very Shortly," he said, "the heaviest rock will be the norm in all of our churches."
Now this preacher is not a youngster just starting in the ministry. He is a man in his early 70's, with the highest degrees our universities and seminaries can bestow. He has served as president of Bible colleges and is considered to be a noted Bible authority.
Although I would strongly disagee that the music will ever become the norm in the church, the heavy rock sound clearly seems characteristic of what the industry wants and what the musicians are willing to appeasingly give their record producers.
Secular companies for the last several years have observed this trend developing with religious rock and they are going to step in for their piece of the pie and record these artists. Of course, their interest is purely monetary - nothing more nothing less.
I predict that the record companies will stay with the religious rock trend as long as the money continues to flow or until another trend develops and everybody jumps on that particular musical wave.
The whole spectrum of religious rock - heavy metal, Top 40, punk, new wave, jazz/rock, even the trash metal - will continue to head in the identical direction until people wont be able to tell the difference between a religious rock song and a secular one. Thats virtually the case already.
GUT LEVEL MUSIC
Contemporary Christian Magazine (June 1986 issue) profiled a new group, The Altar Boys, in the following manner:
""Their simple but honest raw music, often confused with punk, is both fun and frantic, refreshing and annoying....""
According to the trio, their album, When You're A Rebel, was for Christians "but there was some evangelistic stuff mixed in. Our next album will be specifically for non-Christians, saying things they can understand. A more gut-level thing"
The record, Gut Level Music, has already been released.
The group is quoted as saying:
""...We have to get it into the major record stores...To be able to pick it up in a normal record store gives it credibility with a larger audience - which is what we want...""
Do you recognize the quest for credibility with most of these new groups? Credibility to them is having a record in a "normal record store"
"There is no fear of God before their eyes" (Rom. 3:18)
The article continues, quoting the groups guitarist/singer Mike Stand: "And I feel God has called us to reach both sides. Its just that most Christian albums are for both, and we felt we should do one that speaks directly and totally to the non-Christians."
What follows is a series of confusing, contradictory sentences in the article - but, then again, that seems typical of the religious rockers:
""Dont think the band plans to hide their candle under a bushel, though. At least one song is blatant: "Im Not Talking About Religion," which goes on to "not talk about" just a belief, just going to church, just shaving your head. The lyrics clearly point to a relationship with God.""
Do you get the solid impression that the worlds influence has taken over the lyrics, and style, and the musicial approach of these musicians? And yet this is all supposed to represent God? Nothing could be further from the truth. Why dont we try to redeem the culture instead of imitate it?
"For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned to fables" (2 Tim. 4: 3,4)
BOURGEOIS TAGG, VECTOR, the 77's
According to a Contemporary Christian Magazine article (May 1986), the city of Sacramento - California's capital - has become the birthplace of a number of new groups such as Bourgeois Tagg, Vector, the 77's, and Charlie Peacock.
Listen to some of the comments from the story:
""Bourgeois Tagg, formed three years ago...is leading the Sacramento pack down the road to the big time. Their slick "mod-pop" sound, walking the balance between Duran Duran and Mr. Mister, captured the watchful eye of Britian's Island Records
Looking to make its presence more known stateside, the label sports other signees such as U2 and Frankie Goes to Hollywood""
What the story's author doesnt tell you about the group known as "Frankie Goes to Hollywood" is that it has recorded one of the filthiest pornographic albums ever made. Thats the company the new religious rock groups are keeping.
"Their throat is an open sepulchre; with thier tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips:
Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood:
Destruction and misery are their ways" (Rom. 3:13-16).
Jim Abegg, lead guitarist for the group named "Vector", made the following statement in the CCM story:
""There are some good clubs in Sacramento, but there really isnt a big enough population base here to make a decent and consistent living. Anybody can go out and play to two or three hundred people every weekend, but it doesnt get you anywhere.""
Do you sense the calling of God in that statement or do you possible feel that individual is just into the music scene for financial benefits? Basically, the groups background, as well as several others mentioned in the article, appears to be the club circuit.
Vectors Steve Griffith characterized the band in the following manner:
""We have a diverse lineup. And right now I think that we're putting together credible material. Jim and I have been playing together for a few years. And Bruce Spencer, our drummer, just turned 20, so he's into a lot of current influences - Prince, Phil Collins, etc. That gives us an interesting balance.""
Do you catch the phrase influence?
Thats the key word as to where the new religious rock bands get their inspiriation - the music of the world. In the case of the singer known as Prince, his music and stage performances all suggest sexually deviate behavior.
The religious rockers' approaches all seem to suggest: "We must become the world to win the world". That method will not work - period!
Another Sacramento group, the 77's, is called the "we-play-what-we-please rockers". Co-founder and bassist, Jan Eric Volz, was quoted as saying:
""We do the music we like. Over the years we've welded elements of everyone from Elvis to the Smiths. We stick to our guns from playing only basic rock n roll - American music.
The same kind of spirit in Volz's comment was echoed by The Altar Boys' stand when asked about the bands music future:
""More raw. Just pound. And just gutsier. We're going to strip our sound down to the core and bang away because thats what the kids are responding to. We dont care what critics say. We just fell called to play stripped-down rock n roll. No eyeshadow. Just an honest, unpolished band....""
Thats typical for most of the religious rockers. Yet as trends come and go, the worlds influence can make some of the groups seem very tame compared to newer arrivals on the scene. The Austin, Texas, based group known as "One Bad Pig" is a case in point.
ONE BAD PIG
According to an article (Volume 15, Issue 79) in Cornerstone magazine, the idea for One Bad Pig started out as a joke for a local religios rock festival..yet "the response was so favorable, and we realized the stuff was really powerful and could be more than just a joke"
The publication described the bands performance at a music festival:
""A conservative-looking young man walked across the stage and into the spotlight. "Is everybody ready to pig out?" he shouted. Yeeah! "Then lets have a warm Cornerstone welcome for ONE BAD PIG!" The metal barn shook on its cold cement slab as three pale, skinny guys slunk onto the stage. They looked the part - if the part called for abject terror - and they hid from the unforgiving spotlight behind guitar, bass, and drums. THIS IS SO STINKING GREAT! and the joke was still in the telling when two hundred fifty pounds of punchline strutted onto center stage. He brandished aloft, like Hulk Hogan waving a vanquished Woody Allen, an electric guitar, which exploded in an unexpected white-hot flash, and its master beat it senseless against the hollow wooden stage. "Dont slam your brothers and sisters, slam the devil." Between frenetic, noisy songs, "lead screamer" Kosher tried to calm the crowd from frenzy mindless to mindful...
The crowd thinned out as the joke wore off for some, now exhausted from laughing at polka-punk songs like "Looney Tune." Others who found the joke not the least little bit funny had mass exited before the end of the first song ("This IS NOT of God!"). You couldnt blame anyone for cruising out into the cool night air. The music was terrible, the sound was worse, the air was unbearable. But for the people who stayed, the experience was authentic and the event was wholly up to the hype...""
The magazine described the group's leader as saying:
""Its Jesus in your face - thats what One Bad Pig is really. Our lyrics are blunt and simple - Im no poet - and that fits the punk medium: repetitive, to the point. Take it or leave it...""
There's not one question in my mind: I'll leave it. The fact that a group such as this could even be invited to perform at a so-called religious music festival shows the absolute degeneracy of the entire medium.
Yet One Bad Pig has already recorded its first album, A Christian Banned, on the Porky's Demise label. Even one religious rock publication wrote, "The real issue behind a Christian punk LP isnt whether or not O.B.P has anything to say, but rather, is anyone still listening?"
This is typical of whats ahead for religious rock. New groups - all with some sort of trendy musical gimmick - are characteristic of the medium.
This book could have been literally filled with the names of new groups and thier message - Adam Again, 441, Barren Cross, D.O.X, Philadelphia, Messiah Prophet, Omega Sunrise, Wild Blue Yonder, Allies. Yet before the ink would have dried on the pages, a host of new bands would have arrived on the scene.
Thats the nature of the music industry which follows one trend right after another.
What deeply saddens and troubles my heart is the fact the music is becoming harder, rawer, more worldly - if thats possible - all the time. The religious rock music is flawed at its foundation. It has no basis in Scripture, and that flaw becomes more obvious every day with the arrival of a new band - cruder, louder, and more suggestive than the last group.
The flaw cant correct itself. It will only widen.