- March 7, 2017
Over the last 30 years, Christian music has expanded to include a variety of different sounds and musicians. While there’s nothing wrong with enjoying some throwback to the days of Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith, and others, today’s lineup of Christian artists offers a little more diversity. One genre that really took off in the late 90’s was Christian rock. Just like any other area of music, Christian rock bands each bring their own style of rock’n’roll to the scene. Some bands sound harder, employ their instruments differently, or write different kinds of lyrics than other groups of a similar background.
Listed below are 10 of the biggest Christian rock bands out there today. Depending on your personal criteria for what is considered “rock,” you might be able to add a few names to this list. These are just some of the great Christian rock bands that fit the genre well.
Formed in the early ‘00s, Red is anchored by brothers Randy and Anthony Armstrong as well as singer Michael Barnes. Their first album, “End of Silence,” was a popular intro to the group and garnered the band’s first Grammy nomination for Best Rock or Rap Gospel Album. In 2016, Red actually put out a remastered version of the album that features a few remixes and new songs.
Of the group’s five studio albums, four peaked at the top of the US Christian chart and in the top 15 for all US albums. A few of the Christian rock band’s more notable hits include “Breathe Into Me,” “Let It Burn,” and “Hold Me Now.” Check out the video for that last one just below.
Arguably the most popular Christian rock band working today, Skillet has built a massive fanbase by finding a strong crossover appeal with mainstream audiences. It’s not easy to hold onto your values and still find success outside of the Christian market, but Skillet has put out enough quality music over the years to where they have a strong amount of credibility in the genre.
Having released their first album 21 years ago, the band is still coming up with new hits and putting on electrifying shows all these years later. “Feel Invincible,” “Monster,” and “Savior” are just a few of the band’s hit songs.
Another band that caught fire in the early ‘00s was Pillar. The group’s second studio album, “Fireproof,” was very successful and spawned the hit song by the same name. The group put out a few more popular albums in “Where Do We Go From Here” and “For the Love of the Game” before taking a break around 2011-12.
In 2015, Pillar’s core members reunited to deliver the album “One Love Revolution.” Although the Christian rock scene had changed somewhat since the group’s last album in 2009, “One Love Revolution” still peaked at #8 on the Top Christian Albums chart.
One of the longest-lasting bands around, P.O.D. came on the scene in the early ‘90s. More of a mix of metal and rap than your everyday rock band, these musicians from California found national success with the release of the album “Satellite” in 2001. “Alive,” “Boom,” and “Youth of the Nation” were three very successful singles off the album that had music videos featured on MTV.
“Satellite” was clearly the peak of the band’s illustrious career thus far, but the group has released a number of albums in the last few years. In 2015, “The Awakening” released around the same time as Pillar’s “One Love Revolution” and had a fair amount of success.
Thousand Foot Krutch
Another name that has been around for decades, Thousand Foot Krutch came up through the Canadian music ranks in the mid-to-late ‘90s. In 2003, the album “Phenomenon” brought the group some attention for the title track and “Rawkfist.”
Thousand Foot Krutch has had a number of successful albums since then, including 2012’s “The End is Where We Begin” and 2016’s “Exhale.” “The End is Where We Begin” spent 75 weeks on the Top Christian Albums chart and featured the songs “Courtesy Call” and “War of Change.”
Kutless - Christian Rock Bands
The early ‘00s were good to a lot of Christian rock bands and Kutless is no exception. The group’s debut album came out in 2002 and brought listeners hard rock songs like “Your Touch,” “Tonight,” and “Run.” Kutless has gone back and forth a little on their rock image, releasing a few worship albums in the middle of their discography. Then again, they're not the only rock group on this list to have done that.
No matter if you’re listening to the group’s more worship-oriented music or the hard rock it is known for, there’s plenty to like about the Christian band. For Kutless’ softer side, check out “What Faith Can Do.”
Yet another one of these Christian rock bands that has been around for 20+ years, Switchfoot has cemented themselves as one of the biggest Christian acts of all time. These West Coast surfers have been laying out popular songs for a very long time. Switchfoot first gained notoriety with tracks like “New Way to Be Human” and “Only Hope.” The following album, “Learning to Breathe,” produced the very popular “Dare You to Move.”
Although the band found some great crossover success with 2003’s “The Beautiful Letdown,” Switchfoot has made a point to stick to their roots. All in all, the band has won over a dozen Dove Awards and a Grammy.
Debuting their first album in 2006, Needtobreathe began their musical journey as a sort of alternative rock band. Although the album had some success with the song “Shine On,” it wasn’t until the band leaned harder into its roots that Needtobreathe really found its voice. With their second album, “The Heat,” the group had a more Southern/Folk edge to their rock sound. The band kept this sound going for several more albums, all of which hit the top 20 for all US albums, before changing things up again in 2016.
“Hard Love,” the group’s most recent album, still has a lot of the Southern rock intact but with a little pop flair as well. Needtobreathe is another one of those Christian rock bands that benefits from having crossover appeal with mainstream audiences. On top of more orthodox Christian songs like “Washed by the Water” and “Something Beautiful,” the group also sings about family, inner struggles, and a variety of other topics with which Christians can relate.
For Christian listeners who enjoy hard rock, there’s not too many bands who can do it quite like Disciple. Yet another act that sprang up in the early-90s, Disciple has a long history of making Christian music worthy of a mosh pit.
In 2016, the group put out its eleventh album, “Long Live the Rebels.” It was Disciple’s second album to be funded through crowdsourcing on Kickstarter. Some of the band’s better known songs include “Invisible” and “Dear X, You Don’t Own Me.”
One of the most popular Christian rock bands of all time, Third Day is an act that moves back and forth between worship and rock’n’roll. WIth the group’s first album, “Wire,” in 1995, Third Day created a sound that mixed alternative rock with more of the Southern rock you would have heard in the ‘70s. Through its early releases, Third Day strung together a number of great songs like “I’ve Always Loved You” and “My Hope Is You.”
Along with a number of popular worship albums, the group has delivered countless hits in “Revelation,” “I Need a Miracle,” “Soul On Fire,” and many more. Third Day has been rewarded for their musical endeavors with four Grammys and more than 20 Dove Awards.
These are just a few of the Christian rock bands that have made an impact in Christian music. We’ll see in years to come if other bands can capitalize on the market created by these groups, but for now we’ll enjoy the great music that we have.
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