A lot has happened to Stryper since the release of the amazing FALLEN album back in 2015, both good and bad. There was even a point in time when it looked like a new Stryper album may never happen… but here we are, with not only a new album, a new tour, a new bassist… but a whole new attitude.
From the beginning, Stryper has always done things their own way and their fan base has always stood behind them and given them the room to experiment and try new things. This freedom only fuels the creative process and Stryper has rewarded their fans once again with an amazing album that to me not only challenges their norms but also gives us the things we have always loved about the band.
Since the announcement of the album’s title, GOD DAMN EVIL has taken on a life of its own. Every traditional and social media outlet was buzzing which has caused people to talk about the band and propel the album to #1 on the Amazon charts on presales alone. As I begin to listen to the album I am so excited to report here that the album isn’t just 'talk' and controversy, it is DAMN GOOD!!! And no… I’m still not a huge fan of the title, but that is just me.
Starting off with Take It To The Cross, this song treads new musical waters for the band. Featuring vocals from Matt Bachandlt (Act Of Defiance), the song is heavy, fast and totally not what you expect from Stryper especially the chorus which over time has grown on me. If you are looking for the ‘classic Stryper sound’ then Sorry, Sea Of Thieves and the punk influence Lost will make you very happy. All the trademarks are still there; the soaring chorus, the pounding in your face drums and swirling guitars, everything we expect and want to hear from Stryper. Wanting to take a chance and mix it up a bit we have God Damn Evil and Own Up, a couple of the songs that really stretch the yellow and black boundaries; a little tougher, challenging tempos and heavy, HEAVY riffing.
When it comes to the ones that really stand out for me there are three of them that get high marks. You Don’t Even Know to me is the perfect song; amazing pacing and layered vocals that give this song so much power and feeling. Another one that harkens back to the old days is Beautiful. Containing some excellent playing and crisp writing, this one just needs to be heard to be appreciated, especially the verses leading into the chorus. But if I’m forced to pick my favorite one on the album I will pick Can’t Live Without Your Love. With the subtle keyboards, driving bass and a Schenker-esque solo this one reminds me of UFO with a little Rainbow added for good measure; picturesque and a tight performance from the band, this song just rocks!
The album finishes up with the ultra-heavy and almost thrashing The Devil Doesn’t Live Here. This one is heavy, aggressive and once again, not the norm for Stryper. For music fans who like their music with a bit more speed and attitude, this song will appeal to them. And the lyrics? Pure Stryper!!!
Speaking of the lyrics, I feel that this album contains some of the more spiritual and more relevant words than anything in their past. Where some of their earlier songs were more praise and worship style, here they are more reflective and in line with the way many Christians (myself included) feel living in a world spinning faster than ever.
Congrats to Stryper for making studio album #12 a brilliant and much needed release! Michael Sweet (vocals/guitar/production), Robert Sweet (drums) and Oz Fox (guitar) have shaken things up and have made an album that will appeal to everyone; longtime fan or someone discovering them for the first time. The only thing making me more excited that listening to the new music is thinking how it will sound live with Perry Richardson adding his four-string stamp!
I would be completely disrespectful not to mention the amazing bass playing of John O’Boyle who really added some depth, feeling and soul to the songs. His playing added a heavier element to the music and really helped drive them all home.
As someone who has not always liked Stryper’s album covers… this is their best, or at least my favorite EVER! As a comic book fan, I so appreciate the work by Stanis Decker who gives us depth, eye catching images and a very electric color pallet. It projects a feeling of confusion, fear and loss as God comes to town, and he isn’t happy.
Stryper has taken their frustrations, anger and excitement of the past few years and turned it into an album that will easily make every Stryper fan (and maybe some non-fans) take notice.
Matman Ranking – 8.5 out of 10 yellow and black Flying V’s
******To get an understanding of how I rate music, listen to the April episode of 53:5. You will also hear the members of Stryper each talk about their favorite song on the album. www.stryper.com
The Power Chords Podcast is a twice-monthly podcast celebrating rock and metal music of the '70s, '80s, '90s and beyond. The show is co-hosted by Matt Herring and Brian LeTendre.