The next generation of Christian Metal
by Todd K. Smith
Twenty years ago Christian Metal had a different look. It came dressed in yellow and black spandex and allegedly threw bibles from the stage. Though Roxx Ragtime, later to changed their name to Stryper, carefully constructed an image and marketing strategy as the antithesis of Venom, Ozzy and Slayer, they were the first major Christian bands to enter the mainstream. There were others, Darrell Mansfield, Barnabas, Barren Cross, White Cross, Guardian and even Petra who fought the good fight, with amazing results. When Tipper Gore led her witch-hunt with the PMRC, Christian bands won a legion of fans as zealous mothers flocked to the local bible store and bought up metal missionaries spreading the message of God. If their kids wanted to listen to heavy metal, here it was poured from the chalice.
Stryper faded as an anomaly, some even thought it was all a gimmick. Deliverance brought a greater respect to the medium as did Shout and Mortification. Kaluboné Records (pronounced ka-lu-bo-nay) wants to raise the flag once again, this time with a more contemporary approach fueled less by the almighty dollar and more by crafted musicianship. Kyle Dietz started the company in January 1997. As the co-founded of the band Seraiah in 1986 he recorded and toured extensively until 1993. He has since toured and recorded with several other national Christian acts and completed his degree in music business at Indiana Wesleyan University.
Dietz started Kaluboné along with his wife Olga out of a desire to help fellow musicians get their records out. They run it a bit different than the majors; bands are signed on a one album open ended contracts with full ownership of masters, publishing rights and co-production credit. They can buy the product at cost boosting royalties rates substantially higher than industry standards. Kaluboné requires all artists maintain a high level of spirituality in their music and live concert presentations and holds them accountable to that standard.
The companys first major signing came in 1997 with the band Xalt. Already established and with three albums under their belt, Xalt wanted their Helium Blue Gazebo to find acceptance with a dedicated organization bent on moving their praises into a contemporary market. Security and The River were singles sent to radio however Choose, Winds Of Change and Witch Hunt are a tastier sampling of the records overall acoustic-driven feel and melodic power.
Driving West lock horns with the dark one on Power where a heavier more electric momentum crank up Power Of Hope, Deny and Touch Your Soul. Lighter moments on Messengers, Throwing It All Away and Crushed Velvet show just how good a perfectly crafted melodic rock song can be. Oil pulls out all the stops and takes us right into the fire. Dark Angel vocalist Ron Rinehart shifts gears lyrically but stays true to his metal roots making his one of the best iron-clad records of the genre. Whitecross guitarist Rex Carroll and his current band King James return with The Fall and Stirs Broken Tongues is Kaluboné president and drummer Kyle Dietz own band. Produced by Michael Wagener it echoes of Alice In Chains meets Soundgarden.
See the Kalubone website at: Kalubone Records
For an excellent sources on the current trends in Christian Rock check out HM Magazine (www.hmmagazine.com)