STRYPER – GOD DAMN EVIL – FRONTIERS
I haven’t considered myself religious for many years, but have no issue with those that do, and consequently am as happy to listen to religious albums as I do that portray cannibalism or Satanism. This means that I probably listen to more music with an open mind than many, as I guess that there are quite a few people who would balk at purchasing an album that is described as White Metal. But, Stryper is a band who I used to admire a great deal. I lost track of them over the years, but still, have their first two albums on vinyl (‘The Yellow and Black Attack’ and ‘Soldiers Under Command’), and their live video from Japan from the same period. My sister bought the album that probably broke them, ‘To Hell With The Devil’, but then the world changed in so many ways. The band eventually broke up in the early Nineties, before reforming in 2003, since which they have been consistently playing and releasing new music. Amazingly they still have the same singer/guitarist (Michael Sweet), lead guitarist (Oz Fox) and drummer (Robert Sweet) as they did when the band was originally formed as Roxx Regime some 35 years ago. Ex-Firehouse bassist Perry Richardson joined in 2017, is only the third incumbent, so they have been incredibly stable.
The opening track, “Take It To The Cross” features a guest appearance from Matt Bachand (Shadows Fall, Act Of Defiance) on death growls, which shows just how far they have come from the glam days when I used to follow them! What has always been the saving grace (sorry) of Stryper for me, is that at the heart of it they are all actually good musicians, who write catchy songs with hooks, and they have a singer with a really great voice. Whereas many other bands with a Christian message tend to stay within that scene, Stryper broke out into the mainstream and have sold more than ten million albums, most to non-Christians. All these years on and they are still as polished as ever, while they may not ever win marks for most original music, this is commercial hard rock that contains edge and melody and those all-important vocals. If, like me, you only remember Stryper from the early days then in many ways they are still the band they used to be, although they are definitely now more metallic than the hard rock pop of yore. A great addition to their canon, and well worth hearing.