The Most Successful Singers in Christian Hard Rock/Metal

Many people think of Bruce Dickenson, Rob Halford, Robert Plant, and Ozzy Ozzborne when they imagine metal. Names like Ronnie James Dio, Brian Johnson, Axl Rose, and even Kevin Dubrow broke through the glass ceiling. With the metal themes of sex and violence along with demonic imagery, many people wrongfully assume that Christians can’t be metal stars. As sure as we have found the ruins of artifacts that time and time again match the Bible PERFECTLY, I can find a few Jesus lovers in the crowd.

Today we will explore metal vocalists who are openly Christian. It is worth mentioning that several artists on this list are openly Christian but hate the label of “Christian metal.” If their goal is to spread the Word of God to non-believers, being labeled hurts their aim. Many atheists will automatically avoid Christian music. Therefore even if an artist rejects the label, it doesn’t mean they are ashamed of their faith. This list also has no particular order, and only has artists that have contributed to at least one platinum album. Let’s go!

Alice Cooper is known for influencing the slash/horror metal scene. Bands that he inspired are Marilyn Manson and W.A.S.P.. Cooper has released several albums about his faith. He has also talked about the messages in his songs encouraging people to turn away from evil. Of course, for this to work he needs a rougher voice. I mean imagine Steve Perry trying to scare us. His vocals are perfect for what he does.

Blackie Lawless went from a church to the occult, to Jesus. He went from being one of the reasons people wanted to censor music to singing about the need for Jesus. His haunting voice paints a picture that is amazing for storytelling. He can musically tell a story from the bloody sacrifice of Jesus, to bringing you to tears with the same voice. W.A.S.P. really has the best singer for them.

John Cooper has taken Skillet to the next level. With over 12 million sales worldwide, his aggressive, big man voice helped the band cross over into mainstream success. With a few soft songs, he has shown variety but is more famous for sports anthems used across the world. Counting album sales and singles, he has performed lead vocals on 3 straight albums that sold 2 million or more units. Comatose, Awake, and Rise have all been massive successes with the last one winning Skillet several major awards. Loudwire, the largest metal magazine named Rise the album of the year in 2013. It also won 3 Hallmark Magazine awards and 3 GMA Dove awards while being nominated for 2 Billboard Awards.

Amy Lee took over when she first burst onto the scene with Evanescence. With several Grammy wins and over 25 million records sold worldwide, she is widely regarded as the queen of metal. Her soothing voice can be used in any way the song demands, whether it needs to be eerie, sad, angry, or confused. Few people can show as much emotion with just their words.

Michael Sweet made MTV history with Stryper. They were the first band to have 2 top 10 music videos at the same time and the most requested band on Dial MTV in 1987. This was when Christian metal was a joke to the world. Stryper changed that for millions of people. He is known mainly for his freakish high notes, though over the years his vocals have aged like wine. He can still hit high notes like few others and now has a golden voice that can take on any role it needs to. With Michael at the helm, Stryper has sold 10-12 million copies worldwide (depending on the source). His solo career has also been successful while he has worked with artists such as George Lynch, Doug Aldrich, Joel Hoekstra, James LoMenzo, Brian Tichy, Kenny Aronoff, and was a member of Boston for 5 years.

Jen Ledger has a unique style. While she is best known as the drummer for Skillet, she and John Cooper pack a deadly 1-2 combo. As a singer in her own right, her band Ledger has received millions of views and listens as the days of vinyl seem to die. Most of her music videos have over 1 million Youtube views for a reason.

Lacey Sturm seemed to be the next big thing with Flyleaf. Her screams added an extra layer to her persona. With a platinum debut she proved herself a capable performer. She even replaced Jen Ledger for a few shows when the former was busy with her own band. She has sold millions of units and has performed with artists such as Skillet, P.O.D., and Breaking Benjamin, making her one if the most respected women in metal.

Scott Stapp took the world by storm with Creed. They were on pace to becoming one of the biggest bands in history. After an accident got him on pain meds, Stapp battled mental illness and addiction for years before he was shown to be bipolar. He has since rededicated himself to God and helping others. To this day his baritone performances back then helps to pave the way for many aspiring artists on tv competitions. His distinctive sound has inspired many imitators.

John Schlitt is the most iconic frontman for Petra. He could lead choirs in worship music one minute before singing about battling demons within the next. With a distinctive voice that has lasted for decades, he has helped Petra sell around 10 million records.

Hayley Williams has become a superstar. Overall with singles and unit sales combining to over 20 million in the United States, she has become the voice for many rebels. Ranging from pick, to punk, too few metal performers have the range she possesses.

Sonny Sandoval is best known for his work in the early 2000’s. P.O.D. was nominated for 3 Grammys off their 2001 album Satellite. It’s the best-selling album under the Christian metal category for a reason. With reggae, metal, punk, and rap mixed in their songs, Sonny has a unique variety. Although his days of selling platinum albums are long gone, he still is not to be underestimated. P.O.D. is the second best-selling nu metal rap group in history behind Limp Bizkit. (Linkin Park was never purely rap metal.) One could easily make the argument that Sonny was the head of the most respected rap metal group of all time. His vocals can show emotion, and uplift people or make them think as he’s not just a fast talker.

Dave Mustaine became a Christian in the early 2000’s. For some, this sentence will always feel weird. Megadeth then began to incorporate Christian imagery and lyrics into their songs. It’s worth noting that his first Grammy win came after this change. The second biggest vocalist in thrash metal has a gruff voice that is only enhanced by his guitar skills.

Michael Barnes has surprised many people who aren’t used to Christian metal. “Breathe Into Me” is a great song that many secular fans love and don’t expect from Christians. Red has never been an enormous band, but has reached over 3 million albums sold. They have been nominated for 2 Grammy awards and Michael’s voice can be soothing to solemn to rage-filled, showcasing a great range. The first time his vocal talents were heard around the world was on Red’s debut; End Of Silence. His amazing first try resulted in an RIAA Gold album with two RIAA Gold singles.

Rob Rock is best known as the vocalist for Impellitteri, a speedy metal powerhouse that blazed a trail of awesomeness across Japan and Europe. He became their best-known songwriter and helped Chris Impellitteri sell over 2 million albums, praising God with such masterful musicianship it can almost be described as sorcery. His solo career resulted in working with Roy Z, Jake E. Lee, Tommy Aldridge, and Rudy Sarzo.

There are many other talented Christians in the genre. Several have sold over 1 million albums worldwide but have never had a hit. Also groups like DC Talk have used alternative rock and grunge to sell millions of records, but were more known for a soft rap sound. Jars of Clay have also made it big, but aren’t under the metal category or hard rock. Believing in Jesus has no musical hindrance for a singer. After all, what’s more metal than someone dying on a cross and coming back for you?

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4 thoughts on “The Most Successful Singers in Christian Hard Rock/Metal

  1. If we are talking remarkable, don’t forget Matt Smith (Theocracy) Tommy Johannson (sp Reinxeed, Majestica) and Christian Liljegren (Narnia, Golden Resurrection, Audiovision etc etc etc)

    1. I love Tommy, his cover of In God We Trust. Great guitarist too. I also like Identity in Christ with Tommy and Christian. Heard a little of Narnia. It’s fun to see him sing, as the lead or backing and play guitar. Less familiar with Theocracy. All the guys you mentioned do deserve to be on the list for talent, I was just going by who made it big. Gold, Platinum albums/singles. The Christian singers that brought their message to the mainstream media. It’s not all about the best in this list. Doug and the others have more experience there, as I am the rookie of the group. Still learning for them. Just glad they are patient with me. There are potentially hundreds of singers who SHOULD be on the list, but only a few have been able to get past the censorship or secular radio, the labels, angry televangelists, etc. I maybe know 30 Christian metal bands, so I decided to not bit off more than I can chew. (Lest I repeat the wonka rope incident.) Also I am open to song suggestions too. Thank you, God bless!

  2. Some of the acts on here are decent as I understand this is who became most successful. Curious to see a list of the best christian metals vocalists and where that might lead.

  3. For me, I am newer to the game. I’m 26 and until I was 23(ish) the only Christian metal band I heard was Skillet. It took 3 months to realize Skillet was Christian. I know of other Christian metal bands but as I don’t know them as well, or most of their discography anywhere near the ones I talk about, I felt it would be unfair to talk about them. So I mentioned the ones that broke out into mainstream success, or at least sold a few million copies.

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