Stryper: ‘God Damn Evil’
GOD DAMN EVIL
To be released on April 20, 2018 (Frontiers Music Srl)
Michael Sweet has to be one of the busiest rock musicians in the world today. Since 2015, he has released two albums with his side project, Sweet & Lynch; a solo album (which was fantastic); Sryper’s Fallen; and in a few weeks Sweet and the rest of the Stryper crew will be releasing the much anticipated and controversial album God Damn Evil. Controversy is no stranger to Stryper as it is something they have faced many times in the past and now it is plaguing them today. People have took to social media questioning the reasons why Stryper would name the album God Damn Evil? I can see how people are “up in arms” about the title, but they need to relax and pay more close attention to how it is titled (read it word for word and don’t group them together). Don’t be so quick to judge a band by its image and title, just have faith in that the band members know what they are doing, and that is to get their positive and truthful message out to the public. Also, don’t judge the album title ’till you hear the song and the powerful message behind it.
I have to give major props to Stryper for the music they have been releasing in the last ten years. There are not many bands from the ’80s era that are releasing music like this, or even new music period! Stryper have not slowed down one bit. in fact, I would say they have gotten heavier and faster. Case in point is the lead off track “Take It To The Cross.” This song is a trailblazer, thrashy, and a unique song for Stryper. They have not released a song like this, and major kudos for them to make a song like this. This was the first song to be released to the public, and it got mixed reviews, to say the least. People either loved it or hated it. I find myself enjoying it more and more every time I hear it. It actually reminds me of another ’80s Christian rock band, Bride, and something they might have put out on one of their albums.
As serious as Styper’s lyrical content can be, the band members themselves have a funny side to them. After the much backlash and reviews “Take It To The Cross” received, Stryper took to social media again to let their fans know that the next song they would release is called “Sorry.” “Sorry” has a meaty heavy riff that grabs your attention immediately and is completed with a guitar solo that will have you craving for more. And don’t you worry my friend, this album will fulfill all your Stryper cravings.
“Lost,” “You Don’t Even Know”, “The Valley,” and “Sea of Thrones” are all songs that you would come to expect from Stryper. I am not saying these are “filler” songs by any means. It is just that they really didn’t go out of their element on these songs. They are all very well written and played songs with layered vocals (“You Don’t Even Know”), blazing solos (“The Valley” and “Lost”), and upbeat guitar riffs (“Sea of Thrones”).
“Can’t Live Without Your Love” is the “ballad” on God Damn Evil. It wouldn’t be a Stryper album without at least one slow song, right? Well, I wouldn’t say this song is a traditional ballad, because I do find it to be a mid-tempo song that picks up some steam at the guitar solo. This is a love song and the slowest on the album, so I am sure many people will call it that “ballad” on this release.
“God Damn Evil,” “Beautiful,” “Own Up,” and “The Devil Doesn’t Live Here,” are all standout tracks for me. Back to the controversy that looms over Stryper, or on this case (should I say) Michael Sweet. He recently listed all the Stryper albums from his favorite to least favorite. He put Against The Law as his least favorite, and he took a lot of heat for that. I myself am a huge fan of that album and would not list it last, but that is not what I am here to talk about, that is just my opinion. The first time I heard “God Damn Evil,” I instantly thought this song could be on Against The Law. It has the grittiness and the melody that is all over that album.
“Beautiful” is a well written song that is easily one of my favorites on this album. Not only is the music very strong, but the lyrical content is very powerful. This is a song that people need to hear and know that they are “Beautiful” no matter how they look or act. We are all sinners, but God forgives us and He wants us to know that we are important to this world and we are “Beautiful” to Him. “Own Up” is a very catchy and groove oriented song. The drums are the standout to me on this song, as they are very prevalent, and the bass lines were laid down perfectly to go along with the drums. “The Devil Doesn’t Live Here” is the closest song on the album to “Take It To The Cross.” This is another song that finds Stryper on the thrashy side. This is a high pace adrenaline rush song that casts out the devil with the music and lyrics. This is a perfect end to an album that will stand the test of time and will be sure to please any Stryper fan.
Vocalist and guitarist, Michael Sweet, proves to us once again how strong and powerful his voice is on this album. One might say, he sounds better than ever. We all can name a few vocalist’s from the ’80s that should hang it up, but for Sweet, it doesn’t sound like that will be any time soon for him. Not only does he have a strong voice, but he has some great guitar licks and solos on this album. Guitarist, Oz Fox, continues to play some of the catchiest riffs and plays perfectly with Sweet on the melodies. Drummer, Robert Sweet, is laying down some of his best work to date. I will be honest and say that I have not paid that much attention to his drumming on the previous albums, but when I listen to God Damn Evil, his drumming really stands out to me. I know he is very talented and an excellent drummer, but his work on this album is truly amazing. Newly recruited bassist, Perry Richardson (previously in Firehouse), did not record the bass tracks for this album, but I am excited to see him perform live with the band and the revitalized energy he brings with him. I read somewhere that John O’Boyle played bass on this album. O’Boyle was also the bass player for Michael Sweet’s solo album One Sided War.
If “Take It To The Cross” turned you away from this album, all I can ask is that you give this album a chance. I will admit, I was a little taken back by that song and the chorus, but once I heard the rest of the album and found out how amazing it is, I am glad I didn’t let that one song shun me away from something this good.
01. Take It To The Cross
04. God Damn Evil
05. You Don’t Even Know Me
06. The Valley
07. Sea Of Thieves
09. Can’t Live Without Your Love
10. Own Up
11. The Devil Doesn’t Live Here
Michael Sweet – lead vocals, guitar
Robert Sweet – drums, background vocals
Oz Fox – guitar, background vocals
Perry Richardson – bass
John O’Boyle – bass
Reviewed by Metal Headz Media for Sleaze Roxx, April 2018
Stryper‘s “Sorry” video:
Stryper – “Sorry” (Official Music Video)
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Stryper‘s “Take It To The Cross” lyric video:
Stryper – “Take It To The Cross” [Official Visualizer Video]
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