Sunday. Time for some Stryper!
STRYPER – Murder By Pride (2009, Big 3 Records)
I was a Stryper fan back in the 80’s, but I was never overwhelmed by the band. I respected what they were saying, and I never felt like they were “in it for the money”, like some of the other kids at school. I just didn’t think their 80’s albums were that amazing, hanging on to a sort of Dokken-level of quality as far as I was concerned. A few good hits, a few good album tracks, but nothing blowing me away like a Van Halen album does.
Since their reunion, though, holy smokes! (Pardon the pun!) They’ve been awesome, and putting out quality albums. They have improved with age. They are better musicians, better singers, better writers, and don’t have hair 12″ tall anymore. Michael Sweet certainly proved himself on tour with the “other band” he was singing and playing with, Boston!
Murder By Pride is really the first reunion era Stryper that was designed to appeal to the old fans. While I loved the previous album, Reborn, I fully acknowledge that it’s not an immediate thriller. Its post-grunge sounds threw a lot of people for a loop, although it contained some great tunes such as “Passion”. Murder By Pride was the answer to the fans who asked for more melody, more harmony vocals, twin solos and riffs. That is largerly what they got. There’s even the odd scream!
Murder By Pride is their best studio album. It’s got everything — great hard rock songs, great piano ballads, great performances and crisp production that brings out the toughness of the guitars and drums. The drums (by guest Kenny Aranoff) are absolutely flawless. If you didn’t know better you’d swear it was Robert Sweet, as he nails that Stryper sound. I don’t know why Robert didn’t play on the album, as he plays on their current album, the also-smoking The Covering.
If the idea of Christian lyrics throw you for a loop, I won’t lie to you, they haven’t backed down over the years. If anything they’ve gotten more bold. (The Covering contained a song just called “God”!)
Key tracks: Some of the heavy rockers like “Eclipse of the Son”, and “The Plan”. The Boston cover “Peace of Mind” featuring Tom Scholz on guitar. The acoustic ballad power “I Believe”. The stunning title track, with a classic Stryper riff that must be second-cousins with “Free”. If you’re not knocked out by this song, you’re not a Stryper fan!
Great album. Welcome back Stryper — may you continue to stick to your guns, deliver your message, and rock hard!