|Stryper Reviewed on MSNBC
Posted by Kenny Lewis on 8/28/2006 at 10:05 PM
Believe it: Stryper, the ’80s metal missionaries, not only resurrected their career, they made one of the best albums of 2005. In their first new studio album in 15 years, the band that won multi-platinum fame and followers by blending angelic four-part harmonies with bone crunching riffs and searing solos (not to mention tossing little Bibles into the crowd at each concert) shows that though they once were lost, they now are found.
The album kicks off with a roar in “Open Your Eyes,” one of many songs urging listeners to turn from sin and seek salvation. But it’s done so powerfully and aggressively that even metalheads who aren’t down with the message can still mosh to the music. The title track was written as a solo track by lead singer Michael Sweet, which inspired him to seek out old bandmates, his brother Robert Sweet and guitarist Oz Fox for a reunion with new bassist Tracy Ferrie. It’s a dark, brooding but ultimately uplifting promise that anyone who believes in Jesus can have the chains of ignorance and sin broken for good.
It’s not easy for a band to sound like both Metallica and Styx on the same album, but Stryper manages to do it with the heaviness of “When Did I See You Cry?” and the airiness of “Rain.” The catchy hook and chorus of “Wait For You” is a hit single in waiting, and “10,000 Years” is actually a rocked up version of the traditional hymn “Amazing Grace” that’s guaranteed to make the church ladies keel over in the pews. The band finishes up with a remake of “In God We Trust,” the title track from their last successful album in 1988 that’s more bottom heavy and brutal here.
Gone is the band’s trademark yellow and black-striped spandex that made them look like Biblical bumblebees, and Michael Sweet’s high-pitched operatic voice doesn’t hurt as many dogs’ ears this time out. What’s left is a supremely talented band with a knack for songwriting, a flair for showmanship, and a message to sustain them, even if MTV doesn’t play their videos anymore. —Wayne Parry