Hair Metal Mansion correspondent DAWN OSBOURNE checks in with the following:
This is Stryper's eighth studio album and it's a goodun (no pun intended). The Christian background is firmly there, for better or worse, depending on your view. The album cover and theme are undoubtedly religious with plenty of Christian lyrics. However, whether or not you appreciate the message, the album rocks and still has something for every metal fan.
'Yahweh' (the Hebrew name for god) is the title of the opening track which is in grand operatic style, full of pomp, circumstance and confidence. Stryper are certainly no longer quiet or apologetic about their message. It's a memorable opener and they pull off the potentially pretentious approach with unhesitating ease. Despite Michael Sweet suggesting recently that he might need someone to help him with the high notes, accomplished falsetto is not in short supply.
Probably the best track on the album is up next: 'Fallen'. The fact that this is the title track suggests Stryper know this. The cover of the album features God's hand ordering a fallen angel out of heaven, presumable Satan. In another stroke of genius Stryper manage just to make the cover in keeping with metal's usual themes without compromising their message. Catchy pure heavy metal, falsetto chorus, driving prominent drums and squealing guitar: As metal tracks go, it has it all.
The majority of the tracks are nicely heavy. On a fair few e.g. Pride and Big Screen Lies it's not even obvious that the theme is religious. The content could easily be performed by, say, Ozzy. There's a track called 'Heaven', but that word is used so often to mean bliss in metal tracks and its blistering guitar solo means it could pass without comment in any rock club in the land. 'Love you like I do' could easily be about a girl, although it's nicely ambivalent in a religious context. 'All Over Again' is a fairly standard ballad, which wouldn't be out of place on a Tyketto album. Other tracks like 'After Forever' about the after life/death and 'King of Kings' are more obviously firmly didactic in tone. The album opens and ends with religious bent in full focus. It's perfectly possible, however, to enjoy this album whatever your religious persuasion or indeed if you have none.
This is Classic Stryper back to their roots. if you enjoyed 'To Hell With the Devil' you'll enjoy this album. There are no tracks that reach the heady heights of 'Free' and 'Calling on You', but they were, after all is said and done, truly exceptional. This album might not get Stryper any new fans. but it should keep existing ones happy.
Courtesy of Hair Metal Mansion, www.hairbangersradio.ning.com