The term "heavy metal" was coined to describe the loud, driving, guitar-based music popularized in the late 1960s. Over the years, bands have added new connotations to the term. A group called Black Sabbath combined heavy-metal music with occult symbols and odes to the Devil. A few years later, a band named KISS set new standards for outlandish makeup and lewd lyrics.
More recently, groups like Mötley Crüe, Ratt, and Twisted Sister have taken themes of generalized rage, sexual abandon, drug abuse, violence, and despair into the homes of millions of young record buyers. Billboard magazine reported that of the 59 albums certified platinum (signifying 1 million copies sold) last year, 10 were in the heavy-metal category. That figure is up from 5 in 1983. With the growing appeal of heavy-metal music, the National Coalition on Television Violence has called attention to the destructive potential of music videos, many of which graphically depict violence and rebellion.
In contrast to those sinister influences, a new heavy-metal band is shattering the stereotypes. A four-member group called Stryper is adding a Christian dimension to heavy-metal music. The band's members—wearing costumes adorned with chains and metal studs—look like members of other popular heavy-metal groups. Stryper's latest album was released by the same record company that launched Mötley Crüe and Ratt. But that is where the similarities end.
The lyrics to Stryper's songs, and the band's on-stage performance, distance it from its secular counterparts. During concerts, the four-man band throws Bibles into the audience. In a song called "From Wrong to Right," Stryper sings: "So ...