Released: 2009, Frontiers Records
Ah Stryper. Has any band been more the subject of derision and adulation all at once? After a long hiatus, the band returned in 2005 with REBORN, a somewhat sub-par album that seemed to trade Stryper’s trademark fiery guitars and slick vocals for a slightly more modern approach. Now, four years later the band has returned once again with yet another album. For brevity, I’m going to set aside any and all discussion of the Christianity thing – this is Stryper, you know it’s going to be there and you already know if you can stand to listen to it or not.
It’s instantly obvious from the blazing opening riff of “Eclipse For the Son” that Stryper have largely shed the attempts at modernity that dragged down REBORN. Instead, it’s pure ‘80s styled melodic metal right away and for the duration of the album. Michael Sweet’s vocals are in fine form, and the hooks are just as catchy as ever. Everything you’d expect from Stryper is in this song: the melodies, the guitar acrobatics from Oz Fox, and the gang-vocals. For fans, it couldn’t start any better than this.
Unfortunately, from there on through the typically cheese ball closer “My Love, My Life, My Flame”, MURDER BY PRIDE is extremely uneven. As is normal for Stryper, the ballads are excruciating exercises, so you can immediately discount a quarter of the album. However it’s the rockers that are somewhat disappointing. For every great one, like the title track or “4 Leaf Clover” there is a dull one like “The Plan”. Some of the more melodic songs that aren’t quite ballads are good as well, like the I-want-to-hate-it-but-can’t, “Love Is Why”.
Again though, this always seems to be the case with Stryper – albums that are half good, half filler. Like I said though, this is a big step up from REBORN. This sure as hell won’t convert any new fans to the cause, but the existing legions of fans will lap this up like milk.