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Stryper: No More Hell To Pay

In a way it is hard to believe that the original four black and yellow Stryped lads are back in 2013 and in ways it makes complete sense. I mean everybody and their brother has reformed for another crack of the Hard Rock whip, so in that sense seeing, once more, Messrs Sweet, Sweet, Fox and the in and out and in again bassist Gaines makes complete sense. However having done one of those "let's update and re-record our own songs" releases and one of those "let's update and re-record other people's songs" covers releases, doubts had begun to surface about whether Stryper hadn't decided they were a touring tribute to themselves.

No More Hell To Pay not only puts paid to that worrying thought but it does so in mightily impressive style, finding a band sounding at least as hungry as they ever did, if not more so and romping through a set of songs capable of rivalling their very best. There's no doubt that in a band known for having a singer of range and power, and with an album that lands in the band's 30th anniversary (yes, it really is....), that Michael Sweet's tonsils will come in for some scrutiny here. But amazingly his voice is untarnished from years of stratosphere reaching, as he belts the lyrics out across this album like a fresh faced newster with vocal cords to die for. Next to be put to the test is whether a band of this vintage can still cut it after so long away from the writing sessions, but with not one near clunker in sight that too is quickly beyond question. Leaving the last hurdle to overcome being whether Stryper have decided to stay true to their signature sound, or as they have in the past, tried to update their approach to be that most horrible of things, "current". Actually this is the real strength of this album, with No Hell To Pay being unmistakably Stryper, but not a tired copy, rather finding this reunited quartet mixing the Hard Rock styles and slower tender moments that made their name, with a fresh, vigorous attack that means long term fans will immediately be at home, without feeling like they are lost somewhere in the late 80s.

"Sympathy" thunders along, harmony vocals hooking you in, guitar solo blazing, "Jesus Is Just Alright", a cover of the Arthur Reid Reynolds track, pulsates, allowing Michael Sweet to howl, scream and yell for all he's worth, while "The One" illustrates the softer side of this band to wonderfully full effect. Add to that "Saved By Love", where Gaines and Robert Sweet lay down the rhythmic law (it's great to hear this pair Rockin' out together again), "No More Hell To Pay", where Fox bursts through 11 with his guitar spurts and the melodic thump of "Renewed" and there's little doubt this is a band firing on all cylinders, throwing out hooks and choruses at will.

Stryper in 2013? Hell yeah!


Track Listing
01. Revelation
02. No More Hell To Pay
03. Saved By Love
04. Jesus Is Just Alright
05. The One
06. Legacy
07. Marching Into Battle
08. Te Amo
09. Sticks & Stones
10. Water Into Wine
11. Sympathy
12. Renewed

Added: November 5th 2013
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Score:
Related Link: Stryper Online
Hits: 2581
Language: english

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Stryper: No More Hell To Pay
Posted by Simon Bray, SoT Staff Writer on 2013-11-05 16:22:46
My Score:

Here's a bit of a revelation (geddit?) After almost thirty years of being aware of Stryper without actually getting to grips with the band this is the first real acquaintance for me with their music and I'm very impressed. The PR guff points out that this, their eighth album is, "their strongest and heaviest material ever." I can't comment on their previous stuff but tracks like "Marching into Battle" are remarkably heavy for a band on Frontiers Records.

Beyond that there are hooks aplenty with "Te Amo" being particularly infectious and also confining a lovely fluid yet highly melodic guitar solo. The metalled-up version of the Doobies' "Jesus Is Just Alright" is fantastic if lacking the subtlety of the original. It's possible to suggest that the excellent "Sticks & Stones" could have been moved to track 10 with "Sympathy" (although the band have made a video for this one) and "Renewed" being left off to make a more succinct record which seems to be what people want these days but overall a definite success.



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