Stryper_FallenYeah, yeah, I know what you’re thinking. Why is there a Stryper review in my news-feed? Well, it’s there because the infamous yellow and black bumblebees of Christian metal are back with a new album called Fallen, and since we covered W.A.S.P. in their post-Satan phase, it only makes sense we cover these saintly chaps in their Still-God phase (AMG would strongly disagree, but he’s traveling and doesn’t know about this yet). I was but a young, impressionable teenager ov steel in the 80s when Stryper dropped their oh-so-pious Soldiers Under Command and To Hell With the Devil platters, and they were received by my peer group with a healthy dose of derision for their look and overweening preachiness. However, you couldn’t knock their musical chops or how much they stood out from the rest of metaldom. While I never bothered keeping tabs on their various reunions and disunions over the years, I did notice 2011s album of cover tunes where they had the holy nutsack to cover Sabbath‘s almighty “Heaven and Hell.” I missed 2013s No More Hell to Pay but Fallen shall not fall through the same cracks into oblivion.

So what can one expect from Stryper in 2015? Pretty much exactly what they’ve always delivered. A motley mix of powerful metal anthems that beat you over the head with massively unsubtle Christian messages and more hard rock oriented fare that would be considered “cock rock” except these dudes would never sing about their nether regions. Getting things off to a Godly start, “Yahweh” is shockingly heavy, hugely catchy and bombastic, like a steroidal Euro-power ditty. Michael Sweet’s Broadway-ready voice has taken on a slightly rougher hue over the years, which helps punch the song up a few notches, but he can still wail away like a choir boy on helium when necessary. The riffs are thick, heavy and sharp, the solos shine and the whole tune soars like an an….ah, skip it. If they delivered an album full of this kind of stuff, I’d be a true believer and renounce my evil ways. The title track is another sacrilicious dose of classic metal with vocals bordering on harsh and a chorus so big, even the Lord would struggle to lift it (Sweet’s screeching on the chorus is particularly hard hitting). The path of the righteous continues with the power-balladry of “Pride,” which is surprisingly addictive, enjoyable, and lighter-in-the-air friendly.

While hard rocking “Big Screen Lies” is less miraculous, it’s still a solid tune with nifty riffing and a hooky chorus, and though “Heaven” had me cringing in anticipation of a serious brow-beating, it’s actually good enough where I don’t mind the repeated refrain of “I choose Heaven.” Just when it seems the writing sessions for Fallen benefited from divine intervention, the band’s worst tendencies begin to resurface on the cloying pop country of “All Over Again.” I’ve definitely heard worse soapers, but this disrupts the album’s momentum and if I wanted to hear this kind of thing, I’d go to a Taylor Swift concert.

Stryper_2015

They recover nicely by having the temerity to cover yet another Sabbath classic (“After Forever”) and by jacking the music back to “anthemic” for rockers like “Let There Be Light,” “The Calling” and of course, “King of Kings.” “The Calling” in particular is a meaty tune you”ll find yourself enjoying no matter how much you generally resist the power of Christ.

With the same line up from their classic period, this sounds like the Stryper you loved or hated back in the day, but heavier and much better at their song craft. Michael Sweet’s big, Dennis DeYoung-like vocals are still crystal clear but now have enough of a edge to make the music sound more dangerous than a midday Styx concert. Sweet and Oz Fox provide a healthy collection of  fist pumping riffs, many walking the line between hair and classic metal, but they certainly work well. The key element is the beefed up guitar tone which reminds me of 80s metal mavens Obsession and helps the songs feel less cheesy and poofy.

This will likely be as close as I ever come to White Wizzard levels of shame, scorn and eternal banishment at the hands of the ruthless and judgmental AMG staff, but I cannot tell a lie – Fallen is a much better album than I (or anyone else) expected from Stryper and a testament that the Lord works in mysterious ways. Yes, it lays the Good Book’s message on mighty thick, but if you’re able to ignore the numskulled satanic and faux-pagan idolatry of most metal acts, why should this be any different? You can rock along with the Bible Bees even if you don’t want to join them on Sunday for the big church bake sale. Praise bee.


Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 256 kbps mp3
Label: Frontiers Records
Websites: stryper.com  | facebook.com/Stryper
Release Dates: October 16th, 2015

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  • Crapola

    Typically not a fan of this style of music. But for some reason I
    dig this album.

  • Dr_Fisting

    Did he just wail “He is the king of the Jews” in there? Twice?! This is fucking ridiculous.

    • What’s the problem? Was he more of a Viceroy to the Jews?

      • Dr_Fisting

        My issue is not with Jesus’ official title, but with the fact that that is a hilarious lyric to hear in a high-pitched ’80s metal voice. It’s kind of awesome.

        • It kinda is, and it shames me to admit it.

        • Mettil

          It’s proof heavy metal can make any lyrical topic sound awesome.

      • Flyingguillotine

        How about Duke? He could be a kickass Duke…

    • bolok

      i read your comment before i heard that bit, but it was still so unexpected, i burst out laughing.

  • Martin Knap

    I wonder how Yahweh will judge them during the Judgement Day: So you took use of my name 50 times in one song … was it in vain?

  • Wait, THIS got a higher rating than Iron Maiden??

    • Martin Knap

      looks like the aftermath of this review will be interesting…

      • I may be going on an extended leave of absence.

        • Martin Knap

          I”m sure at least a part form the contributors will enjoy it too. And Amg? he has his own eccentricities…

        • SelfIndulgence

          Prepare yourself for the “Procession Of Shame”.

  • Kmill

    Two Godly reviews in a month? Is AMG making a right turn toward the light? Well done! Another great review SD.

  • basenjibrian

    That hair. I am mesmerized by that hair.

    • Martin Knap

      maybe it’s the eyeliner…

  • Pimpolho

    is HMG back or something?

    • I’m offended, but I’ll turn the other cheek.

      • Martin Knap

        Store your treasure in heaven, not on earth.

    • De2013

      Now that would be an unlikely ressurection!

    • Have you noticed the similarity in color scheme between the Gloryhammer and White Wizzard covers? How far up does this thing go??

  • El_Cuervo

    The YouTube comments on the video are hilarious

    • Martin Knap

      like: “With out knowing it I have had my church sing Stryper strongs.They tell me what a beautiful hym it is and that this Mr. Sweet guy is blessed with the spirit of the Lord.” :-)

      • Smelly the Goat

        …my Satanic Church…

  • Anomander

    “if you’re able to ignore the numskulled satanic and faux-pagan idolatry of most metal acts, why should this be any different?”
    Well said! I do like the music of this album, holy bees did a great job.

    • basenjibrian

      good point, despite my serious misotheism.

  • As with much of Steel’s repertoire I was ready to walk away quietly without saying anything, but god fucking damn it, I really like the embedded song. Those are some seriously talented gentiles.

    • Just walk away!

      • Oh I will, but not before someone explains why a Christian band is named Stripper spelled wrong. Or is it Striper? Either way, what?

        • Juan Solo

          S.alvation T.rough R.edemption Yielding P.eace, E.ncouragement and R.ighteousness.

          Also, Isaiah 53:6, “…by his stripes we were healed”

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    Knowing this is Metal at least they had the good taste to picture Lucifer on the cover and name the album after him too. I hope Lord Jesus doesn’t hold it against them on Judgement Day.

    • On Judgement Day, it’s Skynet you should be worried about, not Jeebus.

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        Coming from Satan´s Undershorts, I can tell you are trying to deceive me… back off Deceiver!!
        OH… you´re talking about that Terminator movie… sorry I got carried away… Maybe they´re right when they talk about the dangers of religious fanaticism

  • SelfIndulgence

    I found their first album good (picked it up with the WASP debut I think) their 2nd was better but too poppy half the time. IGWT was garbage, but Against the Law was an interesting phase since they tried to break free of the good boy image. AtL for me was their most honest album and musically probably their best. They didn’t feel the need to shoehorn Jesus into every verse.

    Musically this sounds good, but like most metal these days I roll my eyes at the lyrics. Since the mighty Druhm recommends it I’ll check it out.

  • Thatguy

    Horrible.

    Come home soon AMG and put and end to this nonsense.

    • PFFFFT!

      • Thatguy

        PFFFFT! to you too.

        ..the stuff rational debate is made of.

        • AlphaBetaFoxface

          Don’t be that guy

          Do you get that often? I just couldn’t resist

          • Thatguy

            Ha!

            I chose my user name in the hope someone would say that!

            SD can take it……and I think he is trolling us anyway with this review.

  • CarvedInStone

    Yay Stryper! Another 80s Glam Band that sill produced quality records (if you can stomach the lyrics that is). Their last one was good and this is pretty much on the same level of quality.

  • You wot m8?

    Honestly, I didn’t even bother listening to the embedded track. The review was entertaining though: 7/10 for not enough screaming “He is the King of the Jews” whilst writing.

    I’ll just go back to my Behemoth and Alustrium now. Cheers.

  • Wilhelm

    Musically, not bad, I’ll admit it. it’s much more traditional metal than I remember of Stryper when I was a kid. Lyrically, if there wasn’t such an agenda behind xtian metal (unlike other metal bands who sing about Satan, but are actually atheists/agnostics) it wouldn’t be so off putting. I’m not cringing like I thought, but I can’t actively seek this out.

  • Ocean Man

    Well.as THWTD was my first foray into any sort of hard rock, I will always have a soft spot for the yellow and black attack. I wore that tape out in 6th grade. I haven’t heard a note of their music since then though, so your review has piqued my jnterest.

  • Oberon

    I just listened to their cover of Heaven and Hell, and it wasn’t terrible

  • basenjibrian

    There IS good Christian metal. Virgin Black was awesome (if over the top) and I love My Silent Wake (although their latest was “meh”)

  • Lars Barres

    Christian lyrics don’t offend me any more than any other lyrics if they’re well written. These lyrics sound like they were written by a 7-year-old. That offends me.

    Sabbath has pro-Christian songs – their namesake track even has the line “please God help me”… and they wore/wear right-side-up crosses, so I’m not surprised that Stryper covers them. On the seminal albums Scratch was always a scary devil, not a role model… so that’s something the holy rockin’ rollers can back.

    Always enjoy your writing SD, regardless of the record. I like a wide variety of genres, so everything’s fair game as far as I’m concerned.

  • The whole concept of Christian metal is so incredibly American. It helps that I’m not a (great) fan of classic American metal (pls don’t hate me) but this is incredibly, awfully ridiculous. So I guess at least it made me smile.

  • sir_c

    So what is the next wall being taken down? Body Count having a High Tea & charity cup cake bakeoff at the local police station?

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      Ice T has been playing a cop on TV for a lot of years, so I call “BULLSHIT” on all his songs about killing cops.

  • Martin Knap

    Anointed! Spirit-filled. Powerful. Solid Metal. Breaking Down Strongholds! Battle-worthy! Ephesians 6. We battle not against flesh and blood but against spiritual forces of darkness! With worship like this: the walls come down, darkness flees, His kingdom advances, freedom rings, glory comes down, Jesus is exalted! Right on! Bless these warriors, Father!

    • basenjibrian

      Given that “God” is omni-everything, why does He need your help?

      Who created these “spiritual forces of darkness”? Who is responsible for this evil?

      Deathspell Omega: Fiery Serpents (Drought EP)
      One may argue that it was flawed
      since the beginning
      that the dice were loaded
      that God had it all within
      that He is the Source.
      O heavenly Father!
      pathogenic agent of contamination.
      harbinger of catastrophe,
      icon of the impending Fall:
      but what difference does it make?
      Altitudines Satana
      the vertigo of Liberty
      tipped the scales.
      A shadow of horror is risen.

      This will not be redeemed
      no matter how sincere the genuflection
      and ardent the confession.

      • Martin Knap

        Oh those haughty metaphysical questions. I think I’ll open the question for Theodicy on Wikipedia and think about if for a while….

        • basenjibrian

          LOL. cheers, man. This was just an excuse for me to post my favorite black metal lyrical exercise!

  • FutureBeyondSatan

    I didn’t know that Caitlyn Jenner fronted this band.

    • De2013

      Awesome. Glad I was not alone.

  • De2013

    This review will hunt you untill the end of days.

    Props for doing this.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    Is this the therapy group, where free of shame one can admit to owning ‘To hell with the Devil’ and lost nights of dreaming about big shouldered latex bumble bee suits?
    Hi my names Carlos Marrickvillian…

    • basenjibrian

      You listen to some Christian Contemporary music (not necessarily Christian METAL) and they are singing about Man Love for Jesus, not bumble bee suits!
      I loved Australian Christians Virgin Black (amazing band, too bad they never released their last album due to label issues, they said) but they had a couple of songs that were almost…pornographic…in their man love for a bleeding Jesus.

    • dblbass23

      Soldiers Under Command and To Hell With The Devil kicked all SORTS OF ASS. I say it loudly and proudly and don’t give a shit what anyone thinks of it. And also…Hail Satan.

  • Elton Chagas

    Compared to stuff like “Satan’s Almighty Penis”, lyrics are actually pretty good…

    (yes, it does exist a band with this name)

    • dblbass23

      Damn…..I gotta hear that band!

  • Doug Bathmann

    Excellent and impartial review. And “Fallen” it’s hundred times better than “the book of souls”. Thanks overseas!!

  • Worldeater

    The wail at the beginning of the embedded song is glorious … maybe he really died for our sins!

  • McBasstard

    I remember my dad telling me he ran into these guys on a business trip in an elevator. Like I was supposed to be thrilled. And why don’t you have the bumble bee shot up? That was the best.

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      Were they wearing the bumble wee clothes when your dad met them in the elevator?

  • Shane R

    The arrangements and instrumentation are good and the singing is reminiscent of Deep Purple Mark III. The lyrics are a little much, and I am in the process of being ordained to Christian ministry.

  • HeavyMetalHamster

    “Yes, it lays the Good Book’s message on mighty thick, but if you’re able to ignore the numskulled satanic and faux-pagan idolatry of most metal acts, why should this be any different? ”
    Amen brother Druhm