The yellow and black attack is back, but this time STRYPER took a serious challenge with the decision to rerecord and reproduce their favorite songs from their first 3 albums. In one of their interviews for the upcoming album Robert Sweet said that when they recorded those albums they were so young and didn't have the experience they have today, those albums had the right vibe but the production wasn't quite what they wanted, so they went back to the studio re-recorded the songs with what the sound they deserve. In my opinion I think that this is even more excited for STRYPER than making a brand new album, because those songs made STRYPER who there. Back in the beginning they wanted to show the world what they had before, being an international phenomenon. In general, if I would relate to all the rerecorded songs, all of them are straight 10/10 but the real test is to notice and distinguish the difference between the originals and the reworks.
The album starts with the band's heaviest song, "Loud N' Clear". It sounds the same as the original 84', except for a few changes of the vocal harmonies and the band's sing-along. Something worth mentioning is that Michael Sweet sounds just the same in the early days of STRYPER, he still has that clean high range pitch. However, when I received the album I was waiting for the song that hooked me up into STRYPER, when I was a teenager, and that is "Soldiers Under Command". The classical hit sounded much heavier, Sweet keeping the original vibe of his singing, thus there is not much difference between the new version than the original. STRYPER put more harmonies in the first guitar lead section that opens the song. On the second verse it was nice to hear that Robert Sweet stepped out of the common frame with his drums work and breaks the context. I don't know if they kept Sweet's original high pitch scream in the end but from I heard, I think that there is no doubt that Jesus heard him and came alive.
"The Rock That Makes Me Roll" is one of the most killer riffs that STRYPER ever produced and I am glad that they decided to rerecord this song again. This song has always been on the attack, one of the greatest songs that STRYPER ever wrote. It sounded much more polished and full of atmosphere. Tim Gaines provided a much more diverse bass line, pretty impressive. "Reach Out" was a single out of "Soldiers Under Command" released back than in 85'. The main changes were on the vocals harmonies, also there were a few alterations on the guitar licks. "To Hell With The Devil", the opening track of the album by the same name, presented first Christian Metal album ever achieved a platinum status. The guitar harmonies were a bit different on the opening with higher octaves, but still keeping the same feel as before. Robert Sweet gives his impact with several breaking in the end of the song. Listening to Michael Sweet now singing this classic, in comparison to the older days, showed how he matured. Back then he sounded brighter and sharper, nonetheless on the rerecording he did a great job especially on the second verse and on the end, which I was waiting to hear if he will rise up with another pitcher as on the original.
"Calling On You" was the first single from the "To Hell With The Devil" album, it along came with the song "Free", and it occurred again on this release. On "Free" I can hear prominently a remake version, especially with the drums' work through the song, the background vocals are the same but Michael Sweet seems to put a little bit of himself by additional notes different from the original. The remake of "The Way" is brilliant; it still has the spirit of the old version but has more bites and balls. "Bleeding From The Inside" and "Blackened" are 2 new tracks and has the 80s spirit within, but sounded as if came from the "In God We Trust" album, and belongs to the remake department of the album. "Bleeding From The Inside" has a more commercial sound but it delivers the goods. "Blackened" brings the heavier stuff in the vein of the old days.
To sum up, throughout the album Michael Sweet sings in a lower key than on the original recording, but it is not so conspicuous. STRYPER didn't loose the energy they had on the original material. They picked up their favorite songs which are the heaviest and classiest, containing a Heavy Metal spirit, and show that they are multitalented musicians. The twin axemen teamwork of Oz Fox and Michael Sweet is one of the best results that the guitar world has ever known. They brought something else in comparison to giants as IRON MAIDEN and JUDAS PRIEST with their harmonic leads, something original that you will know that this is STRYPER. Beside the lyrics that glorifies Christianity, and even if not everyone would feel the connection, the music speaks by itself. You will definitely notice that they still got it, and did a great job on the "Second Coming".
1. Loud N' Clear 2. Loving You 3. Soldiers Under Command 4. Makes Me Wanna Sing 5. First Love 6. The Rock That Makes Me Roll 7. Reach Out 8. Surrender 9. To Hell With The Devil 10. Calling On You 11. Free 12. The Way 13. Sing Along Song 14. More Than A Man 15. Bleeding From Inside Out 16. Blackened
Michael Sweet - Lead Vocals / Guitar Robert Sweet - Drums Oz Fox: - Guitar / Vocals Timothy Gaines - Bass / Vocals