Here we have the latest album, EVEN THE DEVIL BELIEVES, by none other than the mighty Stryper. Yep, I said it! Stryper is a band that does not need any introduction if you have been around hard rock or metal for any amount of time. Since their beginning as a Christian Metal band, they have had their share of hate and controversy tossed at them from every direction. Even amongst the Christian community, be it a song or album title or the cover art. Something I have always thought was sad.
I use the term sad because Stryper, for one, is a great band. Hands down, some of the most talented musicians to ever play in the genre. Michael Sweet has more talent in his little finger than most bands could ever dream of having. Even bands that outsell Stryper 10 to 1. Depending on who you ask or what reviews you read, you will get a totally different understanding of the band from one release to the next.
It started for me with SOLDIERS UNDER COMMAND. It was a time in metal where we were getting so many bands popping up from all over the globe. That was a jamming album. Not that it was perfect, but I play the heck out of it. TO HELL WITH THE DEVIL was another that I always carried around with me to listen to. My friends always cracked on me for having Stryper mixed in with Exodus, Slayer, Iron Maiden, Kreator, or the likes thereof. I would play them “More Than A Man,” and it would blow them away. Still probably one of my favorite Stryper tracks.
I have always wondered why so many “metalheads” have an issue with Stryper’s lyrical content. I am in no way a Christian. Back then or to this day. I am still unclear about my own beliefs on the subject, but it has never been a valid reason to dislike the band. Or many of the non-Secular metal bands out there. Hey thrashers, give Deliverance a listen sometime. I’m just saying.
On with the show! “Blood From Above” may have just nudged the aforementioned favorite track a bit. I had high hopes that it was going to set the overall tone of the album. It did not. This is a genuine shredder from the first note to the last. If you would consider that it just rocks your socks off, okay, the tone is set. “Let Him In,” “Even The Devil Believes,” Divider,” and “Middle Finger Messiah” roll along with the same fierce intensity as the incredible album opener. Ripping, headbanging, and a bit faster than the norm.
These tracks are at the top of the heap for me as they are fast-paced and technically perfect musically. The other tracks on the album are equally as good in terms of Stryper goodness; they are a bit more on the hard rock side of the spectrum. They are a bit eased up on tempo-wise while still being a tad heavy. Does that make sense to you? Especially with the power ballad stylings of “This I Pray,” which by all accounts could pass for a Bon Jovi track only with better vocals.
I am giving this album a rating of 5 out five only because it deserves it—no other reason. If there are any doubters out there who, well, I get it. It’s all good as there are plenty of releases I have listened to that the masses love, and I do not. It is a matter of taste, and this is a matter of opinion. But I must stress the fact that if you are a hard rock/metal fan that likes this style of the genre, there is no need to be afraid to listen to Stryper. Grow a set and get this album. It does not disappoint.
1. Blood from Above
2. Make Love Great Again
3. Let Him In
4. Do unto Others
5. Even the Devil Believes
6. How to Fly
8. This I Pray
9. Invitation Only
10. For God & Rock’ n’ Roll
11. Middle Finger Messiah
Robert Sweet – Drums, Percussion
Oz Fox – Guitars, Vocals
Michael Sweet – Vocals (lead), Guitars
Perry Richardson – Bass, Vocals