I remember Stryper when people snorted and smirked. When they released their first album on 1984, the Heavy Metal world was attuned to theatrically demonic sounds, not the Christian beliefs of Stryper – they even threw bibles into the audience at gigs.
Who wanted that? Christian Metal wasn’t the kind of Metal people wanted to be associated with; this was long before Nu Metal bands professed their faith and fans shrugged their shoulders.
Credit; Metal Planet Music
And yet the music on ‘The Yellow And Black Attack’ was good Hard Rock fare, better than a lot of other albums of its type – an album not cool to like. And people found it even harder to ignore ‘1986’s ‘To Hell With The Devil’, their best and still thought of that way.
And yet Stryper marched on, producing albums that made an impact, were covered in national music mags and fostered a hardcore of fans. As many Rock bands did, they went quiet in 1990, inevitably returned and since that return in 2005, have produced produced quality Hard Rock, particularly in the last few years, a classy Rock missive every 2 years. 2018, 2020; we’re ready for another.
The Final Battle
That’s what it’s called, apposite for what many believe is the End Times. That aside, because we could be debating organised v personal religion and the power of the crutch (some say); let’s look at the music.
It’s exciting. And high quality. That’s because they’re never slavish – the second Stryper album may be called ‘Soldiers Under Command’, but this music doesn’t have a narrow preference. It takes a look at what Hard Rock and Metal can be and has been, says ‘I can do that’ and then proceeds to use those influences to allow these songs to touch all kinds of music in that area.
Just have a look at opener ‘Transgressor’, you’ll find NWOBHM, Hair Metal and some good old screaming Metal too, whilst ‘See No Evil, Hear No Evil’ boasts a Classic Rock style, warm guitar solo.
The mainspring of Stryper, Michael Sweet, is a seasoned rocker, but you’d never know it from the strong, screaming vocals he hits here. You’d also never know that throughout the writing and recording, Sweet was worried that he wouldn’t be able to see again out of one his eyes; you can talk about adversity bringing forth good work, Michael told Metal Edge ;
‘I was praying a lot more. It was just putting my faith in God like I always have been even more so and just believing like, look, we’re gonna do this, we’re gonna get through it. And we’re gonna make this album. Everyone was saying, “Hey, you need to postpone it,” and I’m like, “We’re not postponing anything. We’re doing this album. This is the time.” And we did it.’
But the length of service in Rock that this band has produced is apparent in this melding of styles, particularly when you hear ‘Same Old Story’…The middle of that song is Melodic Rock.
Yep, that’s accessible, pretty much like ‘Out Up & In’; when Rock sways, I like it that way and that’s what ‘Til Death Us Do Part’ has, a great bit of groove with a bit of Celtic balladry thrown in, the latter I’m not usually so keen on, but here it seems organically grown, not bolted because someone thought it would be good demographically.
Something else too, Oz Fox has a warm way with his six string solos, classic rock intention and very easy to like.
Don’t Forget The Rock
Stryper don’t. The album ends on the precision, heads down riff of ‘Ashes To Ashes’; sleek, tough and a reminder that Stryper are a Rock band. Metal Planet Music;
‘Great riffs, great vocals and interesting songs that challenge the conventional metal composition.’
But what kind of Rock band? All sorts. This is an album that goes where it wants to in Rock, just because it can. And that is always to be praised and celebrated. Metal Injection perhaps nailed it;
”After listening to all 11 songs, many times, I still want more from Stryper. Nothing here is tired. Nothing here is dull.’
In Stryper We Trust?