Stryper
The CD Collection
..Despite the fact that there are hundreds of Christian metal bands ranging in style from death metal to pop metal, if you mention Christian metal, Stryper will inevitably come to mind. I discovered Stryper when "Soldiers Under Command" came out in 1985. In the late 80's I struggled with how to juggle my taste in music and my faith in God. Stryper really helped me through a rough time in my life. I still have all my vinyl of these guys but have upgraded all of their albums to cd. Stryper are: Tim Gaines: bass, Oz Fox: guitars, Robert Sweet: drums, and Michael Sweet: vocals and guitars. To all those who hate these guys, or dislike Christian metal in general, stop reading my web page if you don't like it! At least Stryper was willing to stand up for something they believed in rather than riding some stupid Satanic trend. Stryper rules!!!

Yellow & Back Attack Stryper-Yellow & Black Attack (CDR bootleg) 1984

1. "Loud 'N' Clear" (3:27)
2. "From Wrong to Right"(3:49)
3. "You Know What to Do"(4:47)
4. "Co'Mon Rock"(3:40)
5. "You Won't Be Lonely" (3:42)
6. "Loving You" (4:09)
BONUS TRACKS
7. "You Know What to Do" [live] (5:25)
8. "Loving You" [live] (4:27)
9. "Together Forever" [live] (3:50)
10. "Soldiers Under Command" [live] (5:34)

Excellent recording of the original mix of 'Yellow & Black Attack' made by Ralf Walter. 'Ol Ralf figured out how to put vinyl to CDR and he did a mighty fine job of it, I might add. Since this version was never released in the U.S., real CD copies don't exist, unless you are one of the few lucky ones to get one of the Japanese copies, that I have been searching for. The CDR has no surface noises whatsoever, no cracks, or hisses, or pops. On top of the original six songs, this disc has four live tracks from various B-sides, all of which were recorded live in Japan, 1985. Having had the original vinyl version of this for years, it is so nice to finally get a cd copy as the mix is so much heavier and more raw than the overproduced 1996 re-release. As for the artwork, well, being a scanner operator by trade, I just scanned in the original album art and shrunk it down to cd size. Gotta love it. Reborn Classics and Old Metal Records couldn't have done a better job. Thanks Ralf.

Yellow & Black Attack Stryper - The Yellow and Black Attack (Enigma/Capitol) 1986

1. "Loud 'N' Clear" (3:32)
2. "From Wrong to Right" (3:51)
3. "My Love I'll Always Show" (3:38)
4. "You Know What to Do" (4:47)
5. "Co'Mon Rock" (3:46)
6. "You Won't Be Lonely" (3:43)
7. "Loving You" (4:15)
8. "Reason for the Season" (6:30)

Oz Fox
Oz Fox

I actually have the original of this on vinyl as well as the blue vinyl record re-issue that came in a round album cover that looked similar to the above cover. (Check out the Stryper on vinyl section for a photo.) The 1986 version was remixed and re-released after the success of "Soldiers Under Command." The new version isn't quite as raw as the original and seems to be more compressed. It also adds two extra tracks "Reason for the Season" from their first EP and "My Love I'll Always Show," a new ballad. I would also swear that there were new guitar parts added to this recording. The music was pure inspired Los Angeles heavy metal from one of the original LA bands and is still one of my all time favorites to this day. However, I still prefer the original mix to the remixed version. My copy is a Japanese import.

A little trivia about pre-"Yellow & Black" Attack" Stryper courtesy of Micheal Sweet,
"Before Oz (Fox) was in the band, we were a trio for a while and went through a number of local guitarists. We we're known as Roxx Regime at that time. CC Deville did almost join the band. CC came out from NY and we really hit it off. He was looking for a band and we were looking for a guitarist. CC wasn't into the Y&B thing so it obviously didn't work out. Similar story with Doug Aldrich. He came out from Philly and he and I were the best of friends for a while. Doug almost joined the band as well. Would have been interesting. With CC in the band, we may have been a little more glam. With Doug in the band, we would have taken on a more classic, bluesy vibe. He's one of the best players out there right now. Both are guys and great guitarists! It certainly would have changed the history of rock and roll/"

Crimson Thorn did a death metal version of "Loud 'N' Clear" on their second album, "Dissection."

Stryper - Soldiers Under Command (Enigma) 1985

1. "Soldiers Under Command" (5:03)
2. "Makes Me Want to Sing" (2:51)
3. "Together Forever" (4:03)
4. "First Love" (5:43)
5. "The Rock that Makes Me Roll" (4:56)
6. "Reach Out" (5:21)
7. "(Waiting for) A Love That's Real" (4:36)
8. "Together as One" (5:01)
9. "Surrender" (4:28)
10. "Battle Hymn of the Republic" (2:36)
US Tour 85 Pass

This is my all-time favorite Stryper album. Almost every song is heavy, aggressive and darn catchy. "Surrender" is one of the band's heaviest songs, and has long been one of my favorites. Of course every Stryper album had the obligatory ballads. "Together As One," however, has a special meaning to me as it was my wedding song. (I'm so sentimental aren't I?) The title track is one of Stryper's signature songs. The opening riff to "Makes Me Wanna Sing" has a striking resemblance to Iron Maiden's "Wicker Man". Both have a bit of a similarity to Judas Priest's "Running Wild". This album won me over to Stryper. At this same time in my life, I had recently become a Christian as well, so this album becomes even more important to me.

I had the sleeve autographed by all four Stryper dudes in California when my band performed at the Stryper Expo.

Deliverance did a live version of "Surrender" on the Intense Live Series Viol. 1. Boanerges and Powergod recorded covers of "Soldiers Under Command".

To Hell With The Devil.autographed
Stryper - To Hell with the Devil (MSP) 1986

1."Abyss (To Hell with the Devil)" [instrumental] (1:11)
2."To Hell with the Devil" (4:08)
3."Calling on You" (3:59)
4."Free" (3:44)
5."Honestly" (4:10)
6."The Way" (3:36)
7."Sing-Along Song" (4:21)
8."Holding On" (4:16)
9."Rockin' the World" (3:30)
10."All of Me" (3:11)
11."More Than a Man" (4:36)
BONUS TRACK
12. "Winter Wonderland" (3:14)
Robert Sweet 11996
Robert Sweet

By the time "To Hell With the Devil" was released I was a genuine Stryper fanatic! I bought EVERYTHING these guys put out. Just take a look at my vinyl collection. Of course, this was when they began to get a bit too commercial for their own good. I didn't really care at the time, nor do I care now. This is still an incredible album and I even like the pretty ballads. "Honestly" was a huge hit for the band. A video for the song became a huge hit on MTV. Actually, the video for "Free" and "Honestly" both ranked #1 MTV and the video for "Calling On You" reached #5. The title track is a monster anthem and one of the band's signature songs.

When the band started to record "To Hell With the Devil", Tim Gaines left the band. He was replaced by bassist Matt Hurich (Leatherwolf) but session bassist Brad Cobb took recorded the bass tracks. However, before the tour Tim Gaines rejoined the band. Promo photos of the band with Matt in the line-up appeared in Faces Magazine.

I originally only owned the crappy Enigma version with the black cover until Michael Sweet released a Limited Edition version with the original cover and the "Winter Wonderland" bonus track that originally appeared on "Reason for the Season" EP. Kudos! Had this disc autographed by all four members at the Stryper Expo in California.

"To Hell with the Devil" was covered by Treasure Seeker.

In God We Trust Stryper - In God We Trust (Enigma) 1988

1. "In God We Trust" (3:56)
2. "Always There For You" (4:11)
3. "Keep the Fire Burning" (3:35)
4. "I Believe in You" (3:17)
5. "The Writings on the Wall" (4:18)
6. "It's Up To You" (3:51)
7. "The World of You & I" (3:46)
8. "Come to the Everlife" (4:08)
9. "Lonely" (4:11)
10. "The Reign" (2:51)
In God We Trust Tour Pass

In God We Trust 1988 Tour Book

Whoa! We're talking major slick pop metal here. There are a few stellar moments in rockers like "The Writings on the Wall," "The Reign" and the title track, but there is a lot of sugary ballads and pop rock songs as well. The band's look was getting beyond ridiculous as well, with Robert Sweet looking more like Farrah Faucet Sweet. Stryper were huge MTV hits at this time with their bee-clad videos in regular rotation. As a matter of fact, Stryper were one of the only bands to have THREE videos in the top 10 on MTV at one time. Stryper were becoming media favorites at this time as well, with all sorts of rumors flying around about them. I think they were allowing their success to take them in areas they didn't really want to go. Too bad, but still, this is not a terrible album. Far superior to crap bands like Poison and Winger! Michael Sweet's vocal range alone put Stryper at the top of the heap. Overall, however, "In God We Trust" doesn't hold a candle to "Soldier Under Command." Oh and by the way, I have the two little collector's items that you see pictured above as well.

Always There For You Stryper - Always There For You (Enigma) 1988

1. "Always there For You" (4:13)
2. "The Reign" (2:52)
3. "Soldiers Under Command" [live] (5:35)

This is a special 3" cd single in a slim case that is extremely rare. I saw a copy at the 2001 Stryper Expo for $30. That's the cheapest I have ever seen it. The single features three tracks. "Always There For You" is a pop-saturated power ballad, but the other two songs are worth while. The live version of "Soldiers Under Command" is from the "Live in Japan" video and "The Reign" is one of the better songs from "In God We Trust." Have this disc autographed by all four members.

Against the Law
Stryper - Against the Law
(Enigma) 1990
Stryper - Against the Law (Hollywood) 1990

1. "Against the Law " (3:49)
2. "Two Time Woman" (3:40)
3. "Rock The People" (3:34)
4. "Two Bodies (One Mind One Soul)" (5:18)
5. "Not That Kind of Guy" (3:59)
6. "Shining Star" (4:23)
7. "Ordinary Guy" (3:52)
8. "Lady" (4:54)
9. "Caught in the Middle" (3:48)
10. "All For One" (4:32)
11. "Rock the Hell Out of You" (3:35)

In an attempt to "reach a larger audience" Stryper striped their stripes and put out this "bad boy" album. While Christianity was finally use to Stryper, this new look caused some waves and people hated it. I was even a bit surprised by the new look. I thought the whole yellow and black image was cool! Even the lyrics tended to be a bit more angry. The title track was Stryper lashing out at all the negative criticism they had taken from Christians over the years. The music, however, is far better than anything from "In God We Trust." The production is outstanding. Their cover of Earth Wind and Fire's "Shining Star" is a incredible! "Caught in the Middle," "Rock the Hell Out of You," "Rock the People" and the title track are all classic Stryper heavy metal tunes and are perfect examples of what the band should have been doing all along. Even the ballads, like the acoustic "Lady," are excellent songs. Some of the lyrics are a bit corny, especially on "Two Time Woman" and "Not that Kind of Guy" but overall, this is an excellent Stryper disc.

Hollywood Records re-issued this album on CD with a slightly altered album cover (pictured above to the left).

The rarely seen videos for both "Lady" and "Two Time Woman" were released on the HM Video Magazine.

Can't Stop The Rock Stryper - Can't Stop The Rock (Hollywood) 1991
1. "Believe" (3:57)
2. "Can't Stop The Rock" (3:18)
3. "Soldier's Under Command" (5:03)
4. "Free" (3:41)
5. "Always There For You" (4:11)
6. "Lady" (4:53)
7. "To Hell With The Devil" (4:07)
8. "In God We Trust" (3:58)
9. "Honestly" (4:08)
10. "Two Bodies (One Mind One Soul) (5:25)
11. "Together As One" (5:01)
12. "You Know What To Do" (4:48)
Expo ticket
2001 Stryper Expo Ticket
2001 Backstage Pass
2001 Stryper Expo Pass

A nice "best of" collection with two unreleased songs. ("Believe" and "Can't Stop The Rock") "Can't Stop the Rock" is a heavy boogie metal song that was actually written early in the band's career. Plenty of band pics and a discography round out this package. This disc was suppose to prove to the world that despite all the rumors, Stryper were still united and rocking for the Rock. Soon after it's release however, Michael Sweet left Stryper to start a solo career. Stryper continued to tour for a while as a three piece with Oz Fox doing vocals and even did one gig with Dale Thompson of Bride filling in on the vocals. Unfortunately, Michael's solo records were terrible attempts at Bryan Adams type pop rock/AOR. Stryper split up with Robert constantly trying to get the band back together. The members have all been active in different musical activities. Robert and Tim played for Rex Carroll's King James for a while. Tim and Oz eventually got back together and are now playing with Sin Dizzy who have one in dependant cd out as the year 2000. Robert has played drums on a variety of different Christian metal albums as well as released a solo album called "Love Trash." The entire band recently got back together for Stryper Conventions in California and New Jersey and have done several "reunion" shows throughout the world. I had the extreme pleasure of seeing them at the California 2001 Expo.

7: The Best Of... Stryper - 7: The Best of Stryper (Hollywood) 2003

1. "Something" (3:36)
2. "For You" (3:56)
3. "Shining Star" (4:23)
4. "Lady" (4:56)
5. "All for One" (4:24)
6. "In God We Trust" (3:26)
7. "Always There for You" (4:06)
8. "To Hell With the Devil" (4:07)
9. "Calling on You" (3:44)
10. "Free" (3:43)
11. "Honestly" (4:07)
12. "The Way" (3:37)
13. "Soldiers Under Command" (5:05)
14. "Makes Me Wanna Sing" (2:54)
15. "Reach Out" (5:25)
16. "From Wrong to Right" (3:50)
17. "Loving You" (4:14)
18. "Believe" (4:17)
Backstage Pass 2003

Over a decade later and someone finally decides to release a comprehensive 'best of' Stryper CD. After a few successful reunion shows in 2001, the four original members of Stryper reunited to record two new songs. The two new songs, for me at least, were bittersweet. I suppose I was hoping for a slightly more retro sound, which these tracks are not. However, while the new songs are not a throwback to the 80's, but they are actually quite good. Both tracks are heavy, melodic, have good song structures, melodic guitar solos, excellent production and some nice vocal harmonies by Oz and Michael. Both tracks were written by Michael Sweet and sound very similar to the material that he wrote for his last solo CD 'Truth.' As with that CD, despite my dislike for most 'modern rock', Mike's vocal harmonies and his song writing is, without a doubt, full of hooks. Apparently these two tracks were originally written for his next solo album but instead he worked them up for this Stryper release. The rest of the CD compromises some of the best Stryper material from the 80's and early 90's. As with any fan of a band there are certain songs I would have liked to have seen included, but overall I think that Hollywood did a good job of selecting songs. The tracks, with the exception of "Believe" are in reverse chronological order. The one track that I really think should have been included, however, is "Surrender." Otherwise, a stellar CD and a welcome addition to my Stryper collection.

7 Weeks Stryper - 7 Weeks: Live in America, 2003 (Fifty Three Five) 2004

1. "Sing Along Song" (5:07)
2. "Makes Me Wanna Sing" (4:10)
3. "Calling on You" (3:45)
4. "Free" (3:39)
5. "More Than a Man" (4:34)
6. "Caught in the Middle" (4:12)
7. "Reach Out" (5:28)
8. "Loud 'n' Clear" (3:53)
9. "The Way" (3:50)
10. "Soldiers Under Command" (5:23)
11. "To Hell With the Devil" (5:56)
12. "Honestly" (4:15)
13. "Winter Wonderland" (3:39)
14. "Closing Prayer" (6:01)
Ticket stub 2003
click on the above image to read a review and see some pictures of the 10/25 Albuquerque show.

Absolute stunning live set from our favorite bumble bee clad heavy metal Bible thumpers. What else can I say, I love this disc. It is an excellent testimony of their sound and a great companion of the memories of an excellent reunion tour, of which I saw them in Albuquerque. The sound quality is excellent making some of the songs a bit heavier and more aggressive than the studio recordings. Minor complaint in that they didn't include either of the two new songs that they played every night of the tour and the packaging is rather weak. For a band that is as visual as Stryper, the inclusion of more than just a few black and white photos inside the sleeve would have been nice. I was also disappointed that the ultra-heavy, downtuned version of "In God We Trust" was left off the final track listing as well. (I would imagine they are saving this for the DVD release.) Other than these minor complaints, this is an excellent live album. Crank it up and see if those glass shattering screams by Michael, or the perfectly executed dual guitar solos don't send shivers down your spine.

Reborn (Big3) Reborn (MTM) Reborn
Stryper - Reborn
(Big3 Records) 2005
Stryper - Reborn (MTM Music/10-Year Anniversary Edition) 2005

1 "Open Your Eyes" (4:02)
2 "Reborn" (3:27)
3 "When Did I See You Cry" (3:35)
4 "Make You Mine" (4:01)
5 "Passion" (3:48)
6 "Live Again" (3:30)
7 "Wait for You" (3:43)
8 "Rain" (3:45)
9 "If I Die" (3:22)
10 "10, 000 Years" (3:15)
11 "I.G.W.T." (3:17)

Oz Fox
Oz Fox and myself at Cornerstone California '07

Well here is the album that I never thought would happen. I never thought that Stryper would reunite, no less record a new album of originals. Stryper kept telling us during their reunion tour that they didn't know what the future would hold for the band. It was announced sometime after the tour and the release of the live CD that the band would be putting out new music. Shortly after it was announced that longtime bassist Tim Gaines would be leaving the band. Then there was the Mexico fiasco that caused a bunch of controversy on the net. It seems even a "reborn" Stryper is steeped in controversy. Well, musically, this album is exactly what I was expecting from the band. Those familiar with Michael Sweet's "Truth" or the two new songs on Stryper's "7: The Best of Stryper" already have an idea of the direction the band is taking. Despite the more modern direction, there are still hints of the old Stryper, mostly in the vocal melodies of Michael Sweet. His voice is unmistakable and as such, there is that small connection to the past. There is also a newly recorded, heavier, rearranged version of "In God We Trust", here titled "I.G.W.T.". This new version of the song is complete with an Oz Fox shred guitar solo. Unfortunately it is the only real solo to be found on the CD. These things are the only real connections with Stryper's past music. The aggression of songs like "C'mon Rock", "Surrender" and "Rock the Hell Out of You" is left behind for midpaced grooves and melodic songwriting. Stryper have successfully changed styles without completely losing their identity. This is not necessarily a bad things, although I would be lying if I didn't confess that I was initially disappointed. However, with repeated spins, I began to appreciate the music more and more. While there really isn't anything on this CD that I would call heavy, some songs like "Open your Eyes", "Reborn" and "Live Again" rock pretty hard. These songs actually have good hooks. Given half the chance, some radio support and some push from their label this CD will probably do well for the band. In typical Stryper fashion, "Reborn" includes a few ballads, "Passion" and "Wait For You". I actually enjoyed these a bit more than some of their older ballads. However, the highlight of this CD for me is the new, downtuned version of "I.G.W.T.". I really enjoyed this song when I saw the band on their reunion tour in '03 and was disappointed it didn't show up on their live CD. So I was happy with the inclusion here, even though I think it would have come off even heavier in the live setting. I especially liked Oz's guitar solo in this song. It's a shame there wasn't more of this used throughout the disc. The song also sports a heavy guitar tone. Actually the guitars throughout this CD are pretty crunchy, although not as forward in the overall mix as past albums. The drums and bass seem a bit more prominent than ever before. I was quite impressed with the lyrical stance that the bands takes. While Stryper were never one to hide their faith, the lyrics here offer a very transparent look at the band. Rather than "rock for the rock", the band sings very personal songs to and about their Lord. Unfortunately the lyrics were not included as part of the insert, but Michael's vocals are very clear and easy to understand. The packaging is worth mentioning as well. This CD is very nicely packaged, from the cover art to the yellow and black shrink wrapping, both pictured above. I dig the imagery portrayed in the cover and how it applies to Stryper as a band and to the band's beliefs. This is a very cool idea that is a bit odd looking but is also very eye catching. I know I would have picked up the cover to look at it, even if I wasn't a fan formerly.

Some interesting facts:
- "Rain" originally appeared on Michael Sweet's independent "Truth" release, although it didn't make the Restless Records version.

- The original pressing of this CD has the songs listed in the wrong order on the back inlay. The album artwork states that tracks 7,8, and 9 are: 7. "If I Die" 8. "Wait For You" 9. "Rain". The correct order is listed above.

- MTM Music released a limited, special edition gold disc version of "Reborn" with a different cover. (see photo above.)

Extended Versions Stryper - Extended Versions (BMG) 2006

1. "Makes Me Wanna Sing" (4:36)
2. "Calling On You" (3:45)
3. "Free" (3:39)
4. "More Then A Man" (4:35)
5. "You Won't Be Lonely" (4:26)
6. "Reach Out" (5:27)
7. "The Way" (3:50)
8. "Soldiers Under Command" (5:22)
9. "To Hell with The Devil" (5:57)
10. "Honestly" (4:25)

Yet another cheap BMG reissue, this time we get 9 tracks from Stryper's "7 Weeks: Live In America" CD, with the additional track "You Won't Be Lonely" as a bonus. As with all the other "Extended Versions" CDs, this was a budget price CD, selling for $6 brand new. Being a Stryper fanatic, I purchased it as part of the collection as well as for the track not on "7 Weeks". According to the liner notes, these tracks were all recorded November 11, 2003 at Earthlink in Atlanta, GA, USA. All-in-all, this is actually not a bad collection and is a good listen.

Roxx Regime Demos Stryper - The Roxx Regime Demos (Fifty Three Five) 2007

1. "From Wrong To Right" (4:00)
2. "My Love I'll Always Show" (3:28)
3. "Loud N Clear" (3:42)
4. "You Know What To Do" (5:04)
5. "You Won't Be Lonely" (3:55)
6. "Co'mon Rock" (3:42)
7. "Tank" [instrumental] (:43)
8. "Honestly" (4:05)

Early demo material from Stryper when they were a struggling club band on the L.A. circuit. Most Stryper fanatics like myself already owned most of these demos, but it's nice to finally have them officially released. The recordings are much more raw than even the original 6-song EP release of "Yellow & Black Attack". The songs for the most part are similar to the final versions that made it onto vinyl in the coming years however there are some noticeable differences. The biggest change here is the heavy rocker "My Love I'll Always Show". This hard rocker is much, much different from what became the ballad on later editions of "The Yellow & Black Attack". "Co'Mon Rock" has a some differences in the way Michael Sweet sings the song and the overall song seems a bit heavier here. "You Won't Be Lonely" has some cow bell action in the chorus that was left out in later recordings. "Tank" is a little a short drum solo from Robert Sweet . There isn't much in the way of packaging. A 4-page insert that has a collage of old flyers and magazine covers, a short write-up about the early years of Stryper and how these recordings are untouched without any additional over-dubs or re-recordings.

See also the Stryper tribute in the tribute section and Stryper Vinyl & Video Collection.

Greatest Hits Live Stryper - Greatest Hits-Live in Puerto Rico (Fifty Three Five Records) 2007

1. "Sing Along Song" (4:57)
2. "Makes Me Wanna Sing" (3:51)
3. "Calling On You " (3:55)
4. "Free" (3:40)
5. "More Than A Man" (4:43)
6. "Caught In The Middle" (4:01)
7. "You Won't Be Lonely" (4:13)
8. "Reach Out" (5:35)
9. "Loud N Clear" (4:02)
10. "Way" (4:48)
11. "Soldiers Under Command" (5:24)
12. "To Hell With The Devil" (5:19)
13. "Honestly" (4:51 )
14. "Winter Wonderland" (4:12)

Recorded in Puerto Rico in 2004 in front of a sold out crowd, this CD is a good representation of what Stryper sounded like on the reunion tour in '04. Unlike the "7 Weeks" CD, which was a compilation of the best takes from different shows and also had a studio overdubbing, "Greatest Hits-Live in Puerto Rico" was recorded at one show and seems to be free from the studio fixes. The sound isn't perfect here, but has a heavy, raw quality that I like. Stryper have always been best without the gloss, in my opinion. I also think that this CD offers an honest vocal performance from Sweet. The track listing is nearly identical to the "7 Weeks" CD, with the Puerto Rico show adding in "You Won't Be Lonely". As with the "7 Weeks" CD, the new songs recorded for the band's 2003 compilation and played during this tour were left off. While I didn't attend the show in Puerto Rico, I did get to see the band when they came through my neck of the woods and they did play those songs, along with a heavy version of "In God We Trust", also not included here. I had thought that they might have been saving these tracks for the DVD release, but they are not included on Puerto Rico DVD either. One thing that could have made this release better for this long time fanatic was if they had played "Surrender". The CD comes wrapped in a nice three-panel digi-pack. Unfortunately no booklet was included. A short bio is included written by William Hogeland.

Murder By Pride Stryper - Murder By Pride (Big 3 Records)  2009

1.    "Eclipse Of The Son" (4:04)    
2.    "4 Leaf Clover" (3:42 )   
3.    "Peace Of Mind" (3:58)    
4.    "Alive" (3:36 )   
5.    "The Plan" (3:10)    
6.    "Murder By Pride" (3:18)    
7.    "Mercy Over Blame" (4:07)   
8.    "I Believe" (3:43)   
9.    "Run In You" (4:15)    
10.  "Love Is Why" (4:07)    
11.  "Everything" (4:26)    
12.  "My Love (I’ll Always Show)" (3:14)

Michael Sweet 2009

To mark 25th Anniversary as a band, Stryper recorded a brand new CD featuring ten new songs, one cover and one re-recorded classic. When the band reformed with Michael Sweet a few years ago they released their “Reborn” CD, which was a good, modern rock album that sounded more like one of Sweet’s solo albums than it did a Stryper album. With “Murder By Pride”, the band is blending the old, classic Stryper with the new. The most welcome of the “old” is the return of the guitar solo. Oz Fox is allowed to let loose throughout this CD. As well, the classic Stryper vocal harmonies are back and ever present. You can really hear Oz Fox belting out those background vocals on this one. Of course the most characteristic sound for Stryper is Michael Sweet’s soaring vocals. Michael sounds as good as he ever has here, and lets loose with some glass shattering screams, such as the scream towards the end of “Mercy Over Blame”.

While there are some classic Stryper elements  to “Murder By Pride”, overall the songwriting and music has a more modern rock feel to it. The album opens up with the upbeat, modern rock number “Eclipse of the Son”. With the next song, “4 Leaf Clover”, the band has really found a niche. This song is super catchy and is one of the most memorable songs on the CD. Several times after purchasing this CD I found myself singing the chorus over and over again in my head. I also found the hard rocking “Mercy Over Blame” to be one of the albums more memorable tracks. As with any Stryper album, this one features a ballad. “Alive” is an emotionally charged, piano and acoustic guitar based ballad. This song could have easily have fit onto “In God We Trust” or “To Hell With the Devil”, and probably would have been a hit at that time. “I Believe” is another standout cut. This song starts off as a ballad and builds into a mid-paced hard rocker. Like “4 Leaf Clover”, this song has a big hook, tons of melody and a tasty guitar solo.

Over the past few years, Michael Sweet has doubled as the vocalist for Boston, after the death of original vocalist Brad Delp. On first listen I found Stryper’s version of “Piece of Mind” to be a bit odd, mostly due to the choppy guitar riff during the main verse of the song. However, with repeated listens I was won over. Michael’s vocal performance here is outstanding. I actually like the minor changes the band made in the song, specifically the break in the song just before the last chorus with Michael holding out the “yeaaaahhhhh!”. It is quite fitting that Boston guitarist Tom Scholz was brought in to play lead guitar on this song.

The album closes with a new revamped version of "My Love (I'll Always Show)" which originally appeared on the band’s debut "The Yellow and Black Attack". Lyrically the song is the same, but the music is completely updated and actually heavier than the original. This new version has a heavy groove and some nice dual guitar leads. While I rarely like re-recorded tracks better than the original, classic songs, I think I actually prefer this new version.

With “Murder By Pride” Stryper has successfully married a new rock sound together with their classic 1980’s sound. This CD has hooks, melody, crunchy guitars, tasty guitar solos, harmonized vocals and even some dual guitar solos. No, this is no “To Hell With the Devil”, and why should it be? That album was recorded over two decades ago. Rather “Murder By Pride” is a solid new CD from a veteran LA band.

It’s also noteworthy that original drummer Robert Sweet, while still listed as a member of Stryper, wasn’t afforded the opportunity to record on this album. Rather, studio drummer Kenny Aronoff sat behind the kit in the studio. Apparently Robert will be touring with the band for this album. I’ve read several rumors on the reasons for this, but frankly it doesn’t matter.

My copy is autographed by two of the four Stryper members, oddly enough the two members that didn't actually play on the CD; Robert Sweet and Timothy Gaines. Both are currently touring with the band in support of this CD. (Thanks Brian)

The Covering Stryper - The Covering (Big 3) 2011

1. Set Me Free (Sweet) (3:44)
2. Blackout (Scorpions) (3:56)
3. Heaven And Hell (Black Sabbath) (6:06)
4. Lights Out (UFO) (3:44)
5. Carry On Wayward Son (Kansas) (5:16)
6. Highway Star (Deep Purple) (5:44)
7. Shout It Out Loud (Kiss) (3:15)
8. Over The Mountain (Ozzy Osbourne) (4:20)
9. The Trooper (Iron Maiden) (3:53)
10. Breaking The Law (Judas Priest) (3:01)
11. On Fire (Van Halen) (3:08)
12. Immigrant Song (Led Zeppelin) (2:16)
13. God (4:20)

Stryper 2010
Robert Sweet, Timothy Gaines, Michael Sweet, Oz Fox

This album rocks! I know that is not a professional review, but then again this isn't a professional review site. This is my CD collection and those were the first word I uttered upon hearing this CD for the first time. It's no secret that I like tribute albums. I have always enjoyed hearing my favorite bands interpret and cover songs by other favorite bands. That is exactly what Stryper did on "The Covering". This is the first full length studio release to feature the original four members of the band, Michael, Robert, Oz, and Timothy, since 1990’s "Against the Law".  The collection offers twelve cover songs and one new track that closes out the album. The band mostly sticks to classic heavy metal and hard rock tracks from the 70's and early 80's. Iron Maiden's "The Trooper" from 1983 is the most current track, with Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song" from 1970 being the oldest. Those who grew up with Stryper and many of these songs should be able to appreciate Stryper's interpretation of them. Any good band attempting an album like this should take the songs they love and make them sound like their own, while at the same time respecting the integrity of the songs themselves. That is exactly what Stryper achieved. Some of my favorite tracks are the ultra-heavy cover of UFO's "Lights Out", the progressive "Carry On Wayward Son" (Kansas), the spirited cover of Van Halen's "On Fire" and a screaming cover of The Scorpions' "Blackout". Michael Sweet absolutely nails "Highway Star" from Deep Purple. Ian Gillan is an incredible vocalist and Sweet is no slacker himself.

The album ends with a new Stryper original cut, a melodic metal number that give me hope that future albums will be less "modern" and sound more like classic Stryper. Had "God" been recorded for "In God We Trust" or "Against the Law", I dare think it would have been a fan favorite. The song has a super catchy cover, a chugging riff, and some melodic guitar work. Michael Sweet sounds as good as he ever has, nailing each and every note.

I've read many, many complaints on various chats rooms and discussion boards about this album, but frankly I find most of them to be absolutely ridiculous. Some complain that they wish Stryper would have just recorded a new album of originals. That opinion is fair enough, but if given the chance, this cover album should prove to the skeptics that the band didn't just slap together some quick cash-grab. It takes a lot of work and time learning others songs and then attempting to give them your own flair. Another complaint I've read is the one that Stryper are "compromising their faith" by recording songs by Black Sabbath, Van Halen and Ozzy Osbourne. I could get into a long, drawn out argument about this finger-pointing judgemental, criticism, but suffice it to say, that I completely disagree. Then there is the other camp over on the Blabbermouth board that are saying Stryper had no business touching these classic songs because "metal and Christianity cannot be mixed". This is simply an asinine opinion. Metal is the ultimate musical expression, in my opinion, and it has room in it for many, many different ideas, emotions, and opinions. Metal has no such box or boundaries confining it to one narrow subject matter. Perhaps those who hold to this opinion should go back and read the early Black Sabbath lyrics. They were hardly as dark as some people make them out to be. What Stryper have delivered is a solid tribute album and one that I will enjoy for years to come. Another complaint is the choice of songs. Frankly, I might have picked a couple of different songs as well, especially by Judas Priest and Kiss. However, this is their tribute, and their choice of songs. All in all, this album rocks!

Second Coming Stryper - Second Coming (Frontiers) 2013

1.  Loud N' Clear (3:47)
2.  Loving You (4:28)
3.  Soldiers Under Command (5:09)
4.  Makes Me Wanna Sing (2:51)
5.  First Love (5:22)
6.  The Rock That Makes Me Roll (4:54)
7.  Reach Out (5:35)
8.  Surrender (4:19)
9.  To Hell With The Devil (4:06)
10. Calling On You (3:41)
11. Free (3:41)
12. The Way (3:37)
13. Sing Along Song (4:23)
14. More Than A Man (4:34)
15. Bleeding From Inside Out (3:44)
16. Blackened (3:08)

So back in 1985 I was a fairly new Christian and I was in search of some good metal with Christian lyrics. I was familiar with bands like Petra and Rez, but I wanted something more metallic. I heard about this band from California called Stryper. My girlfriend and I took a trip to the local record store and picked up a copy of the just released "Soldiers Under Command", on white vinyl no less. Before purchasing the album I asked the clerk, who looked like your typical 80's heavy metal fan if he liked them. Just to be sure, my girlfried asked him what bands he liked. He stated that he loved liked everyone from The Beatles to Metallica and that he thought Stryper were one of the best new bands out. We arrived home and broke the plastic off the cover and put the vinyl on the turntable and I became an instant fan of Stryper. The overdriven, heavy guitars and those soaring vocals. We liked them so much that years later when we wed (1989) we chose a song off "Soldiers Under Command" as our wedding song ("Together As One") (However, I do confess that I tried to get her to agree to "Love Me Like a Reptile" by Motorhead. She didn't go for it.) 

I say all that to reinforce that I am an old-school Stryper die-hard. Their music is an integral part of my life. When I read that Stryper was going to be re-recording those olds classics, including six songs from "Soldiers Under Command" I was skeptical. I mean, why mess with history. Those songs are classics and the performances and production are part of the charm. So why would the band re-record them? In an interview on Blabbermouth, Micheal Sweet commented, "We're really excited about this record. The re-recorded songs are sounding awesome, better than the originals in many ways! One word to describe the record? Heavier!" He also added, "Why did we re-record old songs? That's a multiple-answer question. First, because we wanted to cut out the middle men and have a little more control over our own songs. Second, we wanted to 'fix' some things that have annoyed the 'hell' out of us for the past 30 years such as: no bass in the mix of 'The Yellow And Black Attack' or 'Soldiers Under Command', and no Tim [Gaines, bass] on the mix of 'To Hell With The Devil'. The fact that I sound a little more like a man instead of a helium-induced kid at Disneyland.  The sheer joy of still loving these songs and still being able to perform these songs. And last but not certainly least? We did it just because we wanted to." 

All-in-all, fourteen classics were re-recorded including six songs from "To Hell With the Devil", six songs from "Soldiers Under Command" and two from the original "Yellow & Black Attack" EP. I'm not sure why the band chose to record nothing from "In God We Trust" as "Writing on the Wall" would have been a fantastic inclusion. Other than that minor gripe, I have not complaints about the track listing. Only one ballad was chosen, the lesser known "First Love". (If I never hear "Honestly" again, I would not be disappointed.) Surprisingly, the spirit of the originals have been captured without just being a rehash and the quality of the performances is stellar. Thanks to a top notch production, these songs sound fan-freakin'-tastic! I was surprised at how much I enjoyed these new recordings. Though I am not expert I suspect that the band has down-tuned a half-step to allow for a heavier guitar sound, as well as to give Micheal Sweet a chance to sing in a slightly lower register. Despite that fact, he still hits some glass shattering highs and proves that he has lost very little with age. The one point where I felt the lower register vocals didn't work as well was in the opening moments of "Reach Out" which just sound a bit odd here. 

The Micheal Sweet/Oz Fox guitar tandem is also felt at full force thanks to the flawless production and the guitars punching through the mix, like good heavy metal should. As Micheal suggested in his comments, the bass guitar is also very present on these recordings, giving the songs a strong backbone. Overall, the re-recorded tracks overcame my initial skepticism though I am still hesitant to say these versions are "better" than the originals.

There are also two new tracks that end the album, and fit well with the classic tracks. "Bleeding From the Inside" is a mid-paced rocker that isn't far off from the material the band recorded on "Murder by Pride". "Blackend" is a more upbeat, heavier number with those signature Stryper harmonized vocals. If there re-recordings and songs like "Blackened" are an indication of the direction Stryper will take in the future, I can't wait for some new Stryper. Until that time, "Second Coming" will be screaming from my speakers.
 



No More Hell To Pay
Stryper - No More Hell To Pay
(Frontier) 2013

1.  Revelation (4:30)
2.  No More Hell To Pay (4:53)
3.  Saved By Love (1:18)
4.  Jesus Is Just Alright (5:10)
5.  The One (4:10)
6.  Legacy (4:14)
7.  Marching Into Battle (4:44)
8.  Te Amo (4:06)
9.  Sticks & Stones (4:10)
10. Water Into Wine (3:41)
11. Sympathy (4:02)
12. Renewed (4:20)


Michael Sweet,, Robert Sweet, Oz Fox, Timothy Gaines

"No More Hell To Pay" is Stryper's eleventh studio album, and their first effort comprised of all new material since 2009's "Murder By Pride". With their covers album and the album of re-records, "Second Coming", Stryper gave us all hope that they were retuning to their classic heavy metal sound.  While "Murder By Pride" and "Reborn" did have some of the recognizable Stryper characteristics, there was no doubt that the band were shooting for a more modern sound. However, with more recent new songs like "God" and "Blackened" their sound moved closer to that heavy metal sound that made them a household name in the 80's. Stryper deliver a unique form of heavy metal with their instantly recognizable vocals, vocal harmonies, driving guitar riffs, dual guitar work and guitar melodies, and of course, their overtly Christian message. "No More Hell To Pay" delivers on all those fronts. 

Michael Sweet is in top form all throughout Stryper's new effort. For someone who has been issuing piercing primal screams for three decades, his voice is in surprisingly excellent shape and he lets out some glass shattering screams, such as those heard in the title track. His vocal performance on "Saved By Love" reminds me of some of his singing on "Against the Law". He nearly screams out the chorus with a vicious edge, while other songs such as the title track and opener "Revelation" he sings with the smooth, clean style that he more commonly uses. "Revelation" and "No More Hell To Pay" are undoubtedly Stryper songs showcasing the instantly recognizable dual guitar work of Oz Fox and Michael Sweet. Had these songs been released on "In God We Trust" back in 1988 they probably would be considered classics in the Stryper catalog. In fact, much of the material on "No More Hell To Pay" is some of the best and heaviest the band has recorded since that time. "Marching Into Battle" is driven by a crunchy, over-driven riff and Robert Sweet's signature percussion. Michael Sweet delivers another shattering vocal performance on this song. "Te Amo" is another up-beat rocker, sounding like it could have been written during the "Soldiers/To Hell with the Devil" era. Stryper have always been a band to deliver tear-jerking ballads as well. This time around there is "The One", which a bluesy song and the only song on the album that could be considered a ballad. The chorus is strikingly similar to "Blue Bleeds Through" from Michael Sweet's 2001 solo album "Truth". "Jesus Is Just Alright" is a Doobie Brothers classic given the Stryper overhaul putting the band's vocal harmonies to good use.

It's nearly impossible to get beyond the nostalgic value of the band's early catalog, but "Not More Hell To Pay" does stand up to the task and is easily one of Stryper's best albums to date.

Related Collections:
Sin Dizzy | King James | Michael Sweet | Robert Sweet | Titanic

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