Stryper: ‘Even The Devil Believes’
EVEN THE DEVIL BELIEVES
Released on September 4, 2020 (Frontiers Music Srl)
Some reviews write themselves and this is one of them. While most hard rock and heavy metal bands from the ’80s era are never able to replicate, duplicate or even match their output from that golden period, one band in particular has been able to arguably match, if not top its output from that era. Christian rockers Stryper led by their indefatigable frontman Michael Sweet have actually gotten better over time adopting a heavier sound while still pumping out melodic rockers filled with piercing guitar solos and topped with one of the best voices in rock n’ roll.
With their last four studio albums — No More Hell To Pay (2013), Fallen (2015), God Damn Evil (2018) and now Even The Devil Believes (2020) — Stryper have been able to reinvent themselves and thrive while many of their counterparts keep playing the same songs over and over again. The list of those ’80s era bands willing to routinely live off their past laurels is actually rather extensive and includes groups such as Ratt, Dokken, Slaughter and many more. A few ’80s era groups including Accept and Europe have been able to come up with some exciting new material in the last 10 to 15 years but they are few and far between, and none seem to match the excellence that Stryper have achieved with their last four studio albums in the last decade.
With Even The Devil Believes, Stryper have reached another level and I think that this is their best album to date. There’s not one song that is worth skipping. You have heavier guitar driven tunes such as “Divider” and “Middle Finger Messiah.” You have sing along tracks such as “Do Unto Others” and “Invitation Only.” You have slower but powerful tracks such as “Make Love Great Again.” You even have an almost Poison like sounding slower ballad with much better vocals in “This I Pray.” In other words, you have absolutely everything you need to have a classic rock n’ roll album. Thankfully, Stryper stopped with the experimentation such as the growl like vocals that could be found on “Take It To The Cross” from their last studio album God Damn Evils. While that song was not bad, it was obviously an acquired taste for many.
If my memory serves me right, Even The Devil Believes is the Stryper debut for bassist Perry Richardson (ex-FireHouse) who didn’t get to play on God Damn Evil. In any case, Richardson forms a very solid rhythm section with long-time Stryper drummer Robert Sweet. You’d think that they have been playing together for decades. The solid rhythm section allows guitarists Michael Sweet and Oz Fox to really shine as the guitar playing is absolutely stupendous on Even The Devil Believes from the guitar riffs from which the songs are based on to the very melodic guitar solos that will have your fingers moving in a hurry — just like the old days for people of my — ahem — “vintage.” You can have amazing music for your songs but without a top notch lead vocalist, those songs will always fall short (take for example Chris Holmes who plays a mean guitar but can’t sing at all). Luckily for Stryper, Michael Sweet just keeps getting better and better vocals wise. He still hits all the notes at the age of 57 and his voice is a major reason why the tracks on Even The Devil Believes are so good. The background vocals from Fox and Richardson also really add to the songs.
I always hate touting the words “album of the year” but let’s just say that Stryper‘s Even The Devil Believes appears to have set the benchmark going forward with less than two months to go in 2020. You cannot go wrong in picking up Even The Devil Believes. Whether you believe in God or not, even your ears will believe once you hear this gem of a record.
01. Blood From Above
02. Make Love Great Again
03. Let Him In
04. Do Unto Others
05. Even The Devil Believes
06. How To Fly
08. This I Pray
09. Invitation Only
10. For God & Rock ‘N’ Roll
11. Middle Finger Messiah
Michael Sweet – lead vocals, lead and rhythm guitar
Robert Sweet – drums, percussion
Oz Fox – vocals, lead and rhythm guitar
Perry Richardson – vocals, bass
Paul McNamara – organs, keys, moog
Keith Pittman – additional background vocals
Produced by Michael Sweet
Engineered and mixed by Danny Bernini
Mastered by Alex Sultz
Additional engineering and editing by Kenny Lewis
Reviewed by Olivier for Sleaze Roxx, November 2020
Stryper‘s “Do Unto Others” video:
Stryper‘s “Divider” video:
Stryper‘s “Blood From Above” lyric video: