For the first band in my series, I’ve chosen Barnabas, a Christian heavy metal band from the 1980’s.
But first, the music.
No Freedom, off of Approaching Light Speed, circa 1983.
I first heard about Barnabas through my friend Jerry Wilson, who interviewed Nancyjo Mann, Kris Klingensmith, and Gary Mann in his book, God’s Not Dead And Neither Are We: The story of Christian alternative rock’s pioneers. But I didn’t really listen to Barnabas until after I friended Kris K. on Facebook. His writing style appealed to me, along with his stories of life in a rock band, so I decided to take a listen.
Initially, I didn’t like them.
I heard a few snippets on YouTube and it was OK, but heavy metal is not my go-to genre; my CD collection is filled with progressive rock, electronic music, and Americana.
I listened through each album twice, per Kris K’s recommendation. And I liked what I heard.
Barnabas is not just heavy metal. Nancyjo Mann delivered some great vocals, and the band was fantastic. Loosely speaking, Barnabas is a heavy metal band, but here and there you’ll hear blues and a ballad or two.
Barnabas was never boring.
Alas, history, and certain preachers, were unkind to Barnabas, and the fame they deserved eluded them. Rather than telling their story again, I’ll point you to the three best sources for Barnabas history: Wikipedia, Jerry’s book, and the official fan page.
In 2019, it’s a great time to become a Barnabas fan.
Whereas their catalog before was spread across multiple labels and reissues were of varying quality (usually poor), their albums are all now available in well-made remastered editions, complete with the original cover art, short essays, and lyrics. (They aren’t true remasters, as the original master tapes are long lost–but they still sound great!) You can purchase these from Boone’s Overstock.
Sadly, their music is not available via Bandcamp or streaming platforms yet. (Drop by their Facebook page and give them some gentle encouragement in that area, won’t you?) But you can listen to the non-remastered releases on YouTube:
Next up: A full exploration of their first album, Hear The Light.