Second Coming by Stryper features sixteen tracks, including new recordings of fourteen songs from the band's early years as well as two brand new songs recorded especially for SECOND COMING, and is produced by Stryper frontman Michael Sweet.
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. We've hooked up with some great people--we've got new management, a great album, a great label. We just feel like everything is coming together, and hopefully some big things are to follow."
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Back in the Ring - Stryper's Second Coming| Posted April 04, 2013
In 1983, an era when "Christian rock" was still considered by most to be a contradiction of terms, a band called Stryper took the stage equipped with metal riff sensibilities, bombastic classic rock vocals, and a uniform of black and yellow spandex.
The glam rock four-piece would spend the next decade fighting for the cause of music that boldly declared the Gospel without losing any of its rock-and-roll flare. A decade after calling it quits, the guys took the stage again in 2003. The band's hard-won position as one of the definitive acts who paved the way for the next two decades of Christian hard rock artists hasn't stopped them from holding their own in the present as well. Stryper's latest effort is Second Coming, a collection of 14 re-recorded classics and two new selections.
The advent of significantly better recording equipment would be enough in itself to justify the re-recording of some of these classic tracks--a venture further justified by the fact that frontman Michael Sweet's stirring vocals only seem to have grown stronger over the years.
Old school Stryper fans will enjoy a slightly updated take on classics such as "Free," "Soldiers Under Command," and "To Hell With the Devil." Rather than reinventing or altering the original songs, Stryper sticks to what they do best, keeping the songs infused with a solid dose of classic glam metal riffage soaring from the foundation of Robert Sweet's intricate drum work.
"First Love" breathes life back into the classic monster ballad sound of '80s rock, crafting a poignant call for those who have thrown God's love away to come back. The heart of each of the songs is laid bare in their unabashed presentation of gospel truths, choosing accessibility above complexity.
Classic track "The Rock that Makes Me Roll" make their mission just as clear now as it was at the song's release nearly three decades ago: "They say that rock and roll is strong, but God's the rock that makes us roll. Don't need no drugs to help us push on, we've got His power in our souls."
The first of the new tracks, "Bleeding From the Inside Out," makes it immediately clear that the musical style is going to stay true to the heart of Stryper both musically and thematically. The lyrics do bring a more mature perspective to the table, using slightly more poetic language to describe the state of a soul deeply needing redemption. Guitarist Oz Fox churns out a classic complex metal solo in the bridge, toning it down just enough to meet the slightly melancholy vibe of the song without losing any of the ferocity.
"Blackened" takes a similar approach, highlighting a desire to remain focused on God's light rather than being blackened by the heartaches and vices encountered in life. This song has a darker sound to match the imploring nature of the song's thrust, ending with some of Michael Sweet's signature soaring falsetto.
Although some may question Stryper's decision to stick to their roots instead of conforming to contemporary conventions, this collection certainly establishes relevance of a different kind. The first generation of Christian rock fans will enjoy these cleaned up releases of the songs that shaped an era of their faith journey, while younger listeners will be get a chance to connect to the forerunner of the Christian metal and hard rock genre.
The truths about the saving power of Christ and the work of redemption and sanctification are just as valuable and encouraging now, and it's probable that no other band has or will capture those truths with the same massive classic metal intensity that Stryper achieved. This is a worthwhile addition to the collection of any old school Stryper fan as well as any modern hard rock listener looking for something a little different.
Song to Download Now:
"Bleeding From the Inside Out" (Get it on iTunes here.)
Re-recording your old stuff trend seems to be the rather hip thing to do in the music biz recently. The results are mixed at best. The idea of it is a bit risky for the artist. People love those songs so do you totally re-interpret them and alienate the old fans or do you simply stay faithful to the original and have people go why did they bother. I spent a few months tracking down a copy of Saint's "Warriors of The Son" Re-Recorded. I love's me some Saint and they just don't get much better than they do on the title track "Warriors of The Son". I could not wait to hear that with updated recording techniques. It just had to be awesome. I've listened to it twice. The second time was just to verify what I thought the first time. What a waste. Why even bother. It was not a bold re-interpretation or a technological advancement. Now it's just another part of my collection.
So I was a little apprehensive when I finally tracked down my copy. It took two weeks after the release date for a local store to get it in. I LOVED the original recordings of these songs. Even if it's not so great I figured that I'd buy a copy just to support my boys. Boy was I blown away when the first song came blaring across the speakers. Just incredible. I was not sure you could improve on the original recordings. I was wrong. Where to start. Everyone on this album has grown as musicians by leaps and bounds. A maturity level that just make this music shine like never before. Roberts drumming is heavier and fuller than before. His work richly fills the empty spaces in the music. Tim's bass work is flawless. He and Robert create a very rich and full rhythm foundation which allows the music to stay exciting and energetic.
The most amazing transformation is in the guitar work. Holy cow. I mean the guitars are just light years ahead of where they were on the original recordings. There are new leads and solos all over the place. There is just no sonically empty spaces anywhere in these tracks. Never does it sound over done or self serving. Everything works together to make the song as a whole better. Oz Fox where have you been. This is amazing. Take a bow my brother.
Last but not least are the vocals. There are not words to describe how I feel about Michael's work here. I mean wow! If there was ever a complaint with Michael's work in the past it was that in some of his upper ranges he sounded a bit feminine and he occasionally spent to much time in that range. No one will ever be able to say that again. Time has work the magic of deepening his voice just a smidge while not shrinking his range one iota. Simply stunning. You sir have been blessed from on high with a remarkable gift.
The two new tracks are not filler. They ROCK. Everything you love about these guys in an updated and modern sounding package. The lyrics are as poignant and topical as ever. The music just rocks hard, straight, and true. If you don't have this, Get It. Put it in and TURN IT UP.
Stryper – Second Coming review| Posted April 27, 2013 Old-timers may remember the days of K-tel records. These compilation albums featured up to 20 heavily edited songs squeezed onto a single 45 minute LP. Years later music fans purchased compilation CD’s with songs by “the original artists” in discount stores. The CD covers neglectfully failed to mention that they were, in fact, poor renditions recorded decades after the originals.
On March 26th, Stryper releases Second Coming, on Frontiers,with a series of re-recordings of fourteen of their older hits and two new songs, “Bleeding From The Inside Out” and “Blackened”.
Second Coming follows on the heels of a series of albums released by Stryper in the past decade. In 2005 they released an embarrassingly poor reunion album, Reborn. During 2009 Stryper redeemed themselves with what may have been their greatest release, Murder By Pride, followed in 2011, by the interesting, The Covering, which found Stryper recording covers of some of the bands who musically influenced their sound.
On Second Coming, Stryper reunites the original ’80′s band line-up of Michael Sweet (lead vocals, guitar), Oz Fox (guitar), Tim Gaines (bass guitar), and Robert Sweet (drums).
Is Second Coming anything like those K-tel records or compilation CD’s? Absolutely not. The only similarity is the term “original artist”. After almost 30 years together, the musicianship of Stryper is superior to their early days. Vocalist Michael Sweet still hits the high notes even though he is fast approaching the half-century mark. Robert Sweet pulls out all the stops, as he nails the drumming and flaunts his technical prowess. Oz Fox, known for his legendary guitar skills, brings his abilities to an all new level. Tim Gaines leaves nothing to the imagination with his bass.
I met with Michael Sweet of Stryper recently and asked about the reason for re-recording these classics:
We did this for ourselves; we didn’t do it for the fans. We set out to re-record these songs because we wanted to own the masters. We have a label that owns the catalogue, which is Disney/Hollywood. We signed a publishing deal with Songspub and, you know, the middle man is Disney. So, whenever Songspub pitches a song for a movie or television, they gotta get approval from Disney. Most of the time that’s a very difficult task. They don’t return calls, or if they do, they want more money, or if they don’t want more money, they want this or that. A lot of times it makes the deal go south. So we grew tired of that and said ‘OK we’re going to re-record these songs and then there will be no middleman, ‘cause we’ll own the masters’. And that’s what we did.
That quote is only part of the picture painted by Stryper on Second Coming. The quality of the new recordings, tweaking some of the inconsistencies and improving the continuity found on the original recordings, has breathed new life into these metal classics. The greatest change is the incredible energy, equivalent to what fans would hear when seeing Stryper live.
While the albums Reborn and Murder by Pride gave a more updated metal sound, the two new tracks found on Second Coming are reminiscent of the early days of Stryper and mesh with the classics. ”Bleeding From The Inside Out” has already been sent to radio. Unquestionably it is “radio friendly” with an approachable metal vibe that even the non-metal masses will catchy. It’s ”Blackened” that has grabbed my attention with it’s a rawer, harder edge.
Stryper’s music became famous with both Christian and non-Christian audiences alike. A band that was both reviled by Christian conservatives and adored by those who recognized a new way of expounding Christian faith in music. All of this delivered by an amazing musical talent. The days of yellow and black striped spandex suits may be gone forever, but the new and old music of Stryper, found on Second Coming, will continue to delight for decades to come.
Mightier than Motley and prettier than Poison, God's own glam band, Stryper, was perhaps the most important act of the arena rock era. And if you missed 'em the first time around, stand by for the "second coming"...
It's a peculiar predicament indeed. Established music artists still produce new product, but for an audience that is buying fewer and fewer (and fewer) records. We now live in an iWorld where Martha Quinn is in her 50s and The Breakfast Club generation has become the parents, and in some cases (GASP!) even grandparents. And they face a host of life issues far more challenging than merely "wanting their MTV." Yes, dealing with the PTA, the IRS and the AARP now presents a greater sense of urgency than running out to the local record shop to score U2's latest. Uh, did I just say, "record shop?"
There's a reason why classic rock radio stations everywhere still play "Sweet Home Alabama" every hour, on the hour. The typical over 35 "John Q. music fan" clings to his comfort zone with white knuckles. Plus, for the most part, even the "John Q.s" have discovered the convenience of buying and stealing music digitally. So, what's a seasoned artist to do in the wake of this ever-changing iWorld? Simply appeal to that audience's comfort zone — even if it means producing only tribute releases, "Greatest Hits" collections and live packages, as said artist rides off into the rock and roll sunset.
Embracing this new industry standard, the original, platinum-selling Stryper line-up of lead guitarist Oz Fox, drummer Robert Sweet, bassist Tim Gaines and frontman/guitarist Michael Sweet return in 2013 with their latest offering, Second Coming. Simply put, Second Coming is what it is — a re-recorded collection of the band's 14 beefiest early classics, along with two new bonus tracks added for good measure.
The revamped nuggets maintain maximum skull-crushing freshness, while the musicianship remains as superb as ever. However, Second Coming is less polished-sounding than many of the band's previous records — feeling more like a live album with no crowd — an awesome board tape from a really good (and lengthy) soundcheck.
But Lo-Fi isn't necessarily a bad thing. Overall, the raw production works just fine here. 1984's "Loving You," 1985's "Soldiers Under Command" and 1986's "The Way" represent some of the record's stronger efforts.
However, a few tunes seem to fall flat. Although "Loud 'N' Clear" certainly still rocks musically, the re-recorded vocals pack less punch and conviction than the original. Additionally, "Reach Out" feels sluggish, and the signature Stryper back-up vocals sound as if they've been replaced with tracks recorded by NFL linebackers.
As for the new tunes, "Bleeding From Inside Out" and "Blackened" both possess elements of the band's trademark style while also pointing to what a full-length new Stryper record might look like.
For recent and casual followers, Second Coming serves as an appealing "Stryper 101" showcase. However, longtime diehards may find greater satisfaction in the band's original recordings.
In sum, the biggest, best and brightest news here is that Second Coming once again brings Stryper's "Good News" message of Jesus Christ back into focus. And for that, I offer the band heartfelt kudos and give the record an enthusiastic "thumbs-up." C'mon Rock!