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Stryper - The Final Battle Award winner

Stryper
The Final Battle
by Kevin Lewis at 02 December 2022, 12:48 AM

STRYPER is the OG of Christian Metal. Originally formed in 1983, they are set to celebrate four decades of rocking the Gospel next year. To prepare, they’ve released their fourteenth full-length album, The Final Battle, via Frontiers Records on October 21, 2022. For those who think bands lose intensity as they grow older and get deeper into their career, think again. These guys are not only still going strong, they’re getting heavier as they go. The album opens with “Transgressor,” a heavy rocking anthem. There is a fade in of guitar and drum that leads to a massive Michael Sweet scream. He holds that scream for 15 seconds! Forget losing power, this guy is aging like a fine wine. The guitar riff is killer and the rhythm has Perry and Robert in perfect sync, rocking the way. The bass/drum line under the guitar solos is a bit sludgy and a lot brilliant.

See No Evil, Hear No Evil” and “Same Old Story” both have a Doom Metal influence. That riffs are dark where they need to be, lighter where necessary. The lyrical content so far has been more of a warning of the path you should not follow. Doing the same as you’ve always done will get you what you’ve always gotten. The solos on this record are very melodic so far, not as shreddy or flashy as some they’ve done, but they fit the tone of the track so well, it shows more of a maturity in choice over trying to impress for no reason. One thing STRYPER has always done well is the ballad, with or without the power element. “Near” is the Power Ballad on this album. This is the song begging God to be close, to watch over you, because there is no more perfect companion in life. This composition is pure melodic power. Everything from the backing vocals to the choir layered in to the thundering drums and bass that carry the song with a poise and grace reserved for songs of this magnitude.

The back half of the album is less warning of what not to do and more an exhortation of how you should live life. “Rise to The Call” is your personal challenge to do better, defeat evil, live a life worth living. It has an immensely chanting chorus and the bridge is a beautiful set up for the guitar solos. “The Way, The Truth, The Life” is a throwback to the 80s in so many ways. The tempo, the tone, the phrasing, it all feels old, comfortable, and familiar. This sounds like classic STRYPER done with a modern attitude. Then, “No Rest For The Wicked”’ comes along and goes back to some of the earlier sludgy, doom-laden tones, showing how the band has grown and changed over the decades. Talk about hearing serious growth in songwriting, this is only one of the many directions they’ve shifted over the years, incorporating all they’ve learned into one record.

Wrapping the disc is “Ashes To Ashes,” a faster-paced song with a galloping rhythm and some excellent riff work. Michael hits some darker tones with his vocals in places, then goes back to his signature belting in for the chorus. The chugging guitar work is stunning. The hook on this track is killer, grabbing you by the ears and not letting go. After four decades, STRYPER is still on top of the game. They’ve gotten heavier, more aggressive over the course of time. Their message has never wavered, though. While some bands change their style and attitude and adapt to whatever the flavor of the day is, STRYPER travels a consistent path, speaking their truth and never apologizing for it. They stand up for what they believe in, and there will be no compromise.

The music may change, they may play with tunings and tones and tempos, but their hearts have never wavered, never changed courses. That deserves respect. STRYPER is, and always has been, one of the more solid bands, and this album is proof positive that they deserve all the praise they’ve received over their career.

Songwriting: 10
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 10

5 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Transgressor
2. See No Evil, Hear No Evil
3. Same Old Story
4. Heart & Soul
5. Near
6. Out, Up & In
7. Rise To The Call
8. The Way, The Truth, The Life
9. No Rest For The Wicked
10. Til Death Do Us Part
11. Ashes To Ashes
Lineup:
Michael Sweet – Lead Vocals/Guitar/Keyboards
Perry Richardson – Bass/Backing Vocals
Robert Sweet – Drums/Percussion
Oz Fox – Guitar/Backing Vocals
Record Label: Frontiers Music
     


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Edited 02 February 2023
 

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