Building upon the success of his 2016 release One Sided War, Stryper front man Michael Sweet returns with his tenth solo studio release aptly titled, "Ten".
Ten features an all star guest lineup that includes appearances by, Jeff Loomis of Arch Enemy, Todd La Torre of Queensryche, Andy James, Tracii Guns of LA Guns, Rich Ward of Fozzy, Joel Hoekstra of Whitesnake, Gus G of Firewind, Howie Simon, Ethan Brosh, Marzi Montazeri, Will Hunt of Evanescence , John O'Boyle, Mike Kerr and Ian Raposa of Firstbourne and more.
On the subject of guest musicians Michael comments, "There is a different player appearing on every song. It started out where I was just going to have a couple of guest appearances on it, then I decided that it would be really interesting to bring in different players for every song. I started putting names out there and reaching out to people, and they started agreeing to do it. And then I had guys reaching out to me."
Regarding the musical direction of the album Michael states, "I'm very excited about this release, there are old-school, straight-ahead metal ideas in the vein of Judas Priest, Dio and Iron Maiden, all the stuff I love listening to!"
As for the "Ten" album title, Sweet recently stated, "It's called 'Ten' cause it's my tenth album, and because there is a title track on there about the Ten Commandments -- a really powerful song. There's real heavy stuff. It starts kind of smacking you in the face and it ends kicking you in the gut."
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Better Part of Me (feat. Jeff Loomis of Arch Enemy)
Lay It Down (feat. Marzi Montazeri)
Forget, Forgive (feat. Howie Simon)
Now Or Never (feat. Gus G of Firewind)
Ten featuring (feat. Rich Ward of Fozzy)
Shine (feat. Ethan Brosh)
Let It Be Love
Never Alone (feat. Joel Hoekstra of Whitesnake)
When Love Is Hated (feat. Joel Hoekstra of Whitesnake)
Ricochet (feat. Tracii Guns of LA Guns)
With You Till The End (feat. Mike Kerr and Ian Raposa from Firstbourne)
Son Of Man (feat. Todd La Torre of Queensryche and Andy Jam
What You Need To Know: Michael Sweet is the lead singer and founder of the legendary band, Stryper. Michael has been producing solo albums outside of Stryper for around twenty years, improving more and more on each album. Ten is aptly named for being his tenth album, distributed through Rat Pak Records. This album has either a guest vocalist or guest instrumentalist on each song.
What it Sounds Like: Ten throws flurries of guitar solos and rifts at you left and right, with a solo in every song, sometimes more than once. Ten showcased an impressive vocal range from Michael Sweet. His couple guest vocalists such as Mike Kerr from Firstbourne and Todd La Torre of Queenryche also give exceptional support. Michael's voice soars high and melodically, and digs deep down with gritty, raspier vocal ranges throughout the album. The sound overall is comparable to Stryper's newest couple albums, but definitely has Michael's own style in it. Ten is high energy rock and roll with one beautiful ballad, primarily.
Michael Sweet is unashamed and bold in what he believes in, whether it is about his faith in Christ, politics, or music in general. Concerning his guests on the album, he says, "As you all know, I push the envelope. I work with (and hang out with) people and peers who believe the polar opposite of what I believe...we walk away with a smile and a hug. Not a screaming match of "I'm right and you're wrong"... We're trying to show people that you can work together despite differences and the outcome can be amazing!"
Ten reflects Michael's hope of unity and love often. It has plenty of spiritual highlights. "Better Part of Me" speaks of the battle between desires of the flesh versus the desires of the Spirit. "Now or Never" says, "Save me tonight... here and forever." It speaks of an urgent need for Salvation. Title track "Ten" is all about the Ten Commandments, almost word-for-word. "Son of Man" is about what you expect, Jesus, the Son of Man. Todd La Torre guests on this song. The song declares truths and excerpts from Revelation and the chorus screams, "He's the Son of Man, coming back again!"
Best Song on the Record:
My personal favorite is "Shine." This is one of the heaviest "happy songs" you will hear for a long time. The vocals are captivating, the music is electrifying, and the lyrics are empowering without being cheesy. Overall, though, "Son of Man" truly encompasses everything Michael Sweet was aiming for with this album, both musically, lyrically, and artistically.
Final Word: Ten is a strong declaration that Michael Sweet is still an expert in the Christian rock scene. His expertise shines in this album throughout the whole listening experience. In a cliche, I would say this albums turns it up to eleven. Musical expertise, empowering lyrics, and impressive vocals contribute to Ten as one of the best projects Michael Sweet has ever created. Take a listen and you will hear Michael's passion throughout each well-crafted song.