||Stunning. GREAT job, guys!! Musically ON FIRE. | Posted November-03-2013
First: THANK YOU to MICHAEL, ROBERT, TIM and OZ!!! Your hard work is evident.
I have to say, I was OBSESSED with Stryper growing up. I had black and yellow stripes doodled everyhere, from as soon as I first bought and heard The Yellow and Black Attack back in 1984. But what I once thought was merely a passable substitute for the "secular" music I loved, I eventually discovered that Stryper was legit--the real thing! Michael has among the best chops in the Industry (if not arguably now THE best--having tremendously matured over the years), the guitar playing is sizzling and spot-on (just see them live, and you'll know), and Robert Sweet's drumming just COMPELS.
While I love everything they did in the past (including the critics' most-hated In God We Trust--which I thought was marred only by the production), it wasn't until the decidedly UN-preachy "Against the Law" that Stryper FINALLY showcased their true talent. That album SIZZLES with earnestness, energy, and undeniable musical showmanship. Unfortunately nay-sayers prevented that album from reaching all the ears and hearts it ideally might have--Christian and non-religious alike. Its fun-loving AND world-unifying message could have gone a long way had it not received so much unfair judgment and scorn from too many directions.
Enter 2013 and "No More Hell to Pay". If previously a fan, but un-inclined to listen for yourself, imagine an album that could have landed easily between Soldiers Under Command and To Hell With the Devil--but with all the accumulated talent of all the years since. Or, if you must--imagine Against the Law with slightly less swagger, and slightly more "hot steel"--but with a return to form in their original message. Now, I don't personally don't prefer the decidedly evangelical lyrics of this album (my own beliefs have changed and evolved entirely over the years--more in line with those of a "Jesus" who probably more resembles the Buddha), but for a band whose peers have mostly retired, I can put up with what is said for the sake of witnessing (and relishing!) a band that has never been more on fire in their passion, creativity, and musical delivery.
With No More Hell To Pay (the album), the screams are back (ten-fold!), the riffs climb ladders in your ears, and the hooks and melodies drive you to places you've never been in song before--even 30 years later! I am duly impressed. This is genuinely quite possibly Stryper's best album ever. My only complaints might be (slightly) the production quality, the (again) over-Christianized message--and (get this!) the fact that it starts and JUST NEVER LETS YOU CATCH A BREATH before it ends!! The screams are so well-placed and so surprising that at times I can't help but to laugh with glee, and I marvel at the song-craft over all.
Again, having been a life-long fan no matter what I've spiritually come to believe, I can only say GREAT JOB GUYS!!! FANTASTIC!! Very well done!! After hearing it on preview through NewReleaseTuesday online several times now, I can only say just how grateful I am that you're back, and in more than fine form!! KUDOS--and THANK YOU!! I'll be listening to this one for quite a long time. --Kevin B, Lifelong fan!
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