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Heavy Metal
Bellevue, Washington, USA

Bloodgood is an American Christian metal band that formed in Seattle, Washington in 1984. By 1988, Bloodgood represented one of the four largest Christian metal bands (excluding the mainstream success of Stryper) alongside Barren Cross, Leviticus, and Whitecross.

Bloodgood became known for their “go-for-broke attitude about showmanship”, displaying attitudes and imagery that brought them into collision with some on the extreme Christian right. In a 1998 retrospective, Christian music critic Brian Quincy Newcomb would write that “Bloodgood's ministry and music was a vital stepping stone in the maturing process of Christian rock.”

The band formed around the leadership of Michael Bloodgood, who had been active in the local music scene for some time. Directly prior to the formation of Bloodgood, Michael had been involved in a local band called Cypress, what he later described as “basic straight-ahead rock.” That effort had disbanded by mid-1984 as Michael Bloodgood felt called to build a Christian metal band. The Seattle area at that time was known for metal bands such as TKO, Queensrÿche, and Metal Church, but Bloodgood felt a need to represent Christ to that audience, and the band was the natural way to do so.

Les Carlsen was the lead role “Claude” in the Broadway musical Hair around 1971. He played in various bands such as The Topics, The Worm, The Front Page, Joshua, Fred Shwartz, and The Carlsen-Macek Band before and after his two-year stint with Hair. He also released an album with his wife under the name Sticker in 1983 before joining Bloodgood. David Zaffiro had been in a band called Crystal City Rockers before joining Bloodgood.

In 1985, Bloodgood released a demo, Metal Missionaries, of which they sold over 5,000 copies at concerts. Their 1986 eponymous debut was produced by Darrell Mansfield. While Bloodgood was visually similar to other metal bands at the time, it was distinguished by three elements: the vocals of Les Carlsen, the songwriting of Michael Bloodgood, and the guitar techniques of David Zaffiro. The band's sound was in many ways typical of competent 1980s glam metal bands, but their lyrics were distinctly Christian. Themes often included Armageddon, hope and victory in Christ, and the Grace of living in God, with Biblical language throughout. When asked about the influence of Stryper upon the band, Michael Bloodgood told an interviewer that the band had formed before Stryper became well known, and so they were not a musical influence because they played different styles of metal.

Their first major United States tour was in 1987 and was protested by groups on the extreme Christian right. The band was more popular in Europe than in the United States and they toured the United Kingdom in 1988. This tour featured lead vocalist Les Carlsen portraying Pontius Pilate during the song “Crucify,” as well as a graphic, live-action portrayal of Christ being crucified. The band's position on theatrics, as summed up by Carlsen: “Heavy metal lends itself to visuals and drama… They come naturally from the music we write.”

Mark Welling joined the band on drums for Detonation and Rock in a Hard Place after J.T. Taylor left. After Welling, Kevin Whisler played drums on Out of the Darkness, Alive in America, and Shakin' the World. Whisler was in a Tacoma-based Christian pop-metal band called Watchmen before joining Bloodgood. Watchmen released two albums: Fear No Evil in 1988 and Generation in 1990, both on Regency Records. Paul Roraback of Grammatrain fame also played drums on the To Germany With Love live album in 1993. [{David Zaffiro]] left the band in 1989 to pursue other projects, and Paul Jackson joined the band on guitar. David McKay (keyboards) and Kent Walstead (guitar) also joined the band of their 1992 tour. Les Carlsen performed as a guest vocalist with the American Christian metal band Tourniquet on Intense Live Series, Vol. 2 in 1993.

After five studio albums and three live releases, the group officially disbanded in 1994. The group reformed in 2006 and have been performing several times a year since in the U.S. and Europe. They are currently working with Oz Fox from Stryper in this newly formed lineup with Paul Jackson and Kevin Whisler. Michael Bloodgood, the group's bass player and namesake, also released a comparatively mellow worship solo album, The Cross Changes Everything, in early 2008, under the name “Michael Bloodgood and Friends”, featuring the guest talents of other musicians, including bandmates Les Carlsen, Oz Fox, Paul Jackson, Mark Welling, and Michael's son, Paul Michael Bloodgood on drums and vocals.

Bloodgood was a 2010 Inductee into the Christian Music Hall of Fame. Also in 2010, HM Magazine listed Detonation at No. 23 on its Top 100 Christian Rock Albums of All Time list. stating that it has “quite an original metal sound.” It singles-out “Crucify,” “Messiah,” “Self-Destruction,” and the ballad “Alone in Suicide.” Heaven's Metal fanzine ranked it No. 8 on its Top 100 Christian Metal Albums of All-Time list.

Michael Bloodgood is currently senior pastor of Calvary Chapel Redmond, Washington. Guest artists at CCR have inlcuded long time friend and lead singer Les Carlsen, Randy Stonehill, Buck Storm, and Darrell Mansfield.

On October 19, 2013, Bloodgood released the first video, “Lamb of God,” from their comeback album Dangerously Close (also released in 2013).

A full-length documentary, Trenches of Rock is currently touring the film festival circuit. Produced by Bloodygood Pictures, the film features exclusive interviews, music, and photos, as well as covering all of the controversy surrounding the band. Executive producer is James Moll. The official trailer was released in March 2017. A soundtrack was also released along with the documentary in late 2017.

In 2019, a cassette of music recorded by Les Carlsen in 1971 while touring with Hair was discovered and released by Girder Music. This was the first recording Les had ever made.


1985 Metal Missionaries
1986 Bloodgood Frontline Records
1987 Detonation Frontline Records
1988 Rock in a Hard Place Frontline Records
1989 Out of the Darkness Intense Records
1990 Alive in America: Live Volume One Intense Records
1990 Shakin' the World: Live Volume Two Intense Records
1991 All Stand Together Broken Records
1991 The Collection Intense Records
1993 To Germany With Love! Stephans-Buchhandlung
2013 Dangerously Close B. Goode Records
2017 Trenches of Rock Movie Soundtrack Bloodygood Pictures/B. Goode Records

Metal Missionaries

1985 Independent

Les Carlsen - Lead vocals
David Zaffiro - Guitar, vocals
Mike Bloodgood - Bass, vocals
J.T. Taylor - Drums

  1. Awake!
  2. Accept the Lamb
  3. Anguish and Pain
  4. Battle of the Flesh


1986 Frontline Records (CD9002)
2010 Intense Millennium Records (IMR004)
2019 Retroactive Records (RRCD1487)

Les Carlsen - Lead vocals
David Zaffiro - Guitar, backing vocals
Michael Bloodgood - Bass, backing vocals
J.T. Taylor - Drums

Produced by Darrell Mansfield

  1. Accept the Lamb (3:47)
  2. Stand in the Light (3:41)
  3. Demon on the Run (3:56)
  4. Anguish and Pain (3:02)
  5. Awake (4:10)
  6. Soldier of Peace (3:15)
  7. You Lose (2:53)
  8. What's Following the Grave (5:00)
  9. Killing the Beast (4:41)
  10. Black Snake (2:53)

Bloodgood's first album on Frontline was also reported to be in major stores due to a distribution deal with Capital Records.

To be continued…