The Soft Side of Hard Rockers

AN NRT EXCLUSIVE ARTICLE, The Soft Side of Hard Rockers

One of the biggest complaints from people who don’t enjoy metal or hard rock music is that they can’t understand what the vocalists say. Those people often are more content with the lyrics themselves but prefer to avoid the sound. What many of them are unaware of is that there are a lot of bands and artists that release different genres of music, reflecting other parts of their hearts and Christian faith. We’ve highlighted some of these previously, though some are inactive now. I want to share with you some bands and artists that show off these talented artists’ passion in their more accessible musical styles and sounds. I hope you find some music you can relate to, worship God through, and support the artists that make them. 
Honor & Glory
When I think of a Christian rock band that honors God in their lyrics and glorifies Him through their shows, Disciple immediately comes to mind. However, for the band, the Disciple outlet differed from worship for them. Consequently, in 2021, the band formed Honor & Glory, showcasing original and cover songs of modern worship tunes. The project brought in other talented musicians like Dane Allen from LOYALS and Marco Pera from Amongst The Giants, joining forces to offer a fresh perspective of praise with the familiar voice of Kevin Young leading the way. I hope this new project is more than one record in its history.


Reflect Love Back
It’s no secret that the princess of rock, Lacey Sturm, loves to lean into intimate moments in life. Even though she’s known for her ferocious screams and relatable lyrics, she’s poured her heart into some books. Her solo, self-titled band is still active, but on the side, you might hear some melodic songs based on her most recent project, Reflect Love Back. It’s an intimate, 12-week devotional video series, and each song is based on it. Although you can enjoy the music without the book, it’s a unique experience that I recommend to any fan of her music and ministry.

Dawn Michele
Nearly 20 years of Christian rock history is wrapped inside Fireflight, a household name for fans of the Christian rock genre. It might be surprising that the band’s lead singer, Dawn Michele, wanted distance from the church due to conflicts within and around it. But she had a revelation, witnessing how people surrendered in worship in a different way than Fireflight could offer. This stirred a longing to be a part of that. So, she has now released her solo worship record, Surrender. It’s a celebration of faith and music that fans from all over the Christian genre can enjoy.

Jen Ledger
One of the biggest names in Christian rock is the iconic Skillet. Whether they discovered them as a gateway band into heavier music (like myself) or still enjoy the modern rock they release today, every fan has a unique story to share. Given their massive fanbase, each band member plays a vital role in shaping the reception and overall sound they produce. My favorite is the drummer and backup vocalist, Jen Ledger. Her solo project, Ledger, has the right balance of pop and rock elements to stand out as a unique music project. We’re anxiously awaiting more new music.


Future Divine
Many bands don’t make music or tour for many years, yet their hidden gems bring out the passion in their fans even more. For me, that’s the rock band, I Am Empire. 2011 to 2013 were their golden years with two studio records. In 2020, the lead singer, Austin Lyons, released an EP under the band’s name with some B-sides. But what was more exciting was his solo music, Future Divine. In 2021, he released, Fully Alive, an excellent worship record that is a definite anchor during seasons of difficulty.


Stephen Christian
Stephen Christian of Anberlin is a name that spans over two generations in the rock, punk, and emo genres. His iconic voice and unforgettable lyrics make him influential in those music scenes. Yet, his faith is close and important to him, and it shows through his solo project Anchor and Braille and his worship collection under his name. If Anberlin isn’t your style, you should check out both projects, with new music on the way. I can’t get enough of the guy’s voice; he’s an authentic voice of comfort for me.

Matty Mullins
If you heard Matty Mullins‘s screams through Memphis May Fire, you might assume it was a faithless band, like many others in the metal scene. But Matty is far from faithless. Though his faith doesn’t always have clear marks on his music in Memphis May Fire, his solo project is all about it. He has released two records with several other singles (some even contemporary Christian radio-friendly). He’s one of my favorite singers and figures in the heavy music scene, and I love that he’s still releasing music through this outlet. I hope you’ll give his soft side a chance, even if it’s the furthest difference among the artists on this list.


Part of this series: Hard Rockers Who Went Soft

Ryan Adams graduated from Boise Bible College in 2017. He lives with his family in Montana.

Christian Music, Devotionals, Interviews, Editorials