Friday, November 01, 2013

Stryper-No More Hell To Pay

Frontiers Records

Do I really need to introduce Stryper to anyone? Unless you've been living up a rock for the past 30 years (give or take a year) or you are a teenage metal fan (in which case you could be forgiven for not knowing about this California act) then I see no real reason why I should go on and on about the who, where and why of this long-standing Christian act. Now on studio album number eight (of original material), which was produced by front-man/guitarist Michael Sweet, Stryper are arguably the first name that would pop into most people's heads if you asked them to name a Christian rock band. Yeah, I always considered Stryper more rock then heavy metal although maybe hard rock would be a better description? More so their 1986 album, "To Hell With The Devil", (technically-speaking) was probably a fairly standard definition of glam metal. So maybe they have covered a bit of ground from rock to glam metal? All I know for sure is that Stryper was the big thing in Christian circles back in the day. When you have survived 5 years of private school/Christian education like I have (I left in 1988 and spent my high-school years in a public school) you know all about Stryper. You also know all about the evils of rock and roll and how it's the devil's music and all that jazz. that's a story for another day though. For now let's scroll down through album number eight by these one time glam metal warriors of Christ! The promo mentions that "No More Hell To Play" finds the band with all of their original members. Besides Michael Sweet (vocals/guitar) you have Oz Fox (guitar), Tim Gaines (bass), and Robert Sweet (drums). Now, the only other Stryper release that I have reviewed was 2011's "The Covering". I really liked that one as the band covered some cool tracks by the likes of Iron Maiden, Kiss, UFO, Black Sabbath and Deep Purple. After that one the group released "Second Coming". That album actually came out earlier this year and featured re-recorded versions of some of their earlier material as well as two new cuts. With "No More Hell To Pay" I find myself in the odd position of having to admit that Stryper (or at least modern Stryper) is really good. These four guys are really on the gun with their latest album and yes, besides being a talented bunch, they rock hard! The only downside to studio-album number eight for me is Michael Sweet. His voice just doesn't sit right. Otherwise this one opens strong with "Revelation", pumps up the heavy metal mentality with "Saved by Love", "Water into Wine" and "Legacy" and is filled with some really catchy cuts like "Sticks & Stones" and the group's enjoyable cover of the Doobie Brothers classic, "Jesus Is Just Alright"! Fans should find numbers like "Te Amo", which is simple and yet effective hard rock, to their liking and as the album closes up the aptly-titled "Renewed" (featuring some fantastic guitar playing!) one would have to think that the money spent of this new CD would be well worth it! From the sounds of things the group went into the studio with a clear vision of what they wanted to accomplish. So when you hear this one from start to finish it sounds remarkably well-conceived. As front-man Michael Sweet put it "The new  album, "No More Hell To Pay", is the record we needed to make as a follow up to "To Hell With The Devil". Every song has a hooky guitar riff. Everything is in minor keys, so it's a little darker sounding and a little tougher. It's definitely our heaviest record and I think people will be pleasantly surprised. To reference, there is less songs like "Calling On You" and more songs like "To Hell With The Devil"". When you hear a number such as "Marching into Battle" it does strike you that Stryper has rarely sounded so dark. But then you wonder why not? Given how well it works it would be nice if they tried the darkness on more often! But anyway, while no one will ever accuse me of suddenly turning into a Stryper fan, and there is no chance that I'll suddenly run out and pick up all of their earlier material, I did find the group's new album to be way better then I though it would be. It's a strong showing from this Christian band and one that fans, and maybe even other casual listeners such as me, should find a welcome addition to their collection while also pointed Stryper in a new direction!

Labels: , , , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home