Despite being a very committed Christian for most of my life, I have never been very enthusiastic about Christian rock. In fact, the majority of my music collection is quite secular (though falling short of the extremes of black metal or suchlike).
That's not because I don't like to hear my faith put to music, more that I've simply found it hard to really enjoy much of the music Christian bands play. Even if it's not as empty or as nauseating as something like the dreaded Hillsong, there's still a blandness that I struggle with.
Long-running band Petra rarely excite me all that much either, but they do here with Beat the System
, maybe the best album I've heard from them and certainly their best at the time.
Combining the crunch of rocking guitars with glittering keyboards, this is a collection of songs, nine out of the ten written by guitarist Bob Hartman, which offer consistently melodious and engaging music, with at times richly theological lyrics to match.
In regards to Biblical theology, the two leading songs are undoubtedly "Clean", and "It Is Finished", the latter a truly mighty piece about the death of Christ, which almost gives Charles Wesley a run for his money.
The band also scorn the 'seeing the devil behind every bush' types in "Witch Hunt", and lament hunger and poverty in the lovely "Hollow Eyes". Special mention should also be given to "Voice in the Wind", both for its tender lyrics and mid-paced pop smarts.
The one song not self-written is a cover of Argent's "God Gave Rock and Roll to You', which KISS would eventually tackle as well (look at that, Petra and KISS have something in common), and it's charming in its way, if maybe a bit awkward. What's more, they'd already done a version of it on 1977's Come and Join Us
by Reviewer: The Doctor