Stryper – “Even The Devil Believes” (Frontiers Music)
Battle Helm Rating
Still hand in hand with God after 35 years, selling over 10 million albums worldwide and making history when they notched two songs simultaneously in MTV’s Top 10 videos for ‘Free’ and ‘Honestly’, Stryper’s hand of deliverance couldn’t have come any timelier in our current cataclysmic hour. Recorded during the pandemic by the band’s core of the Sweet brothers and guitarist Oz Fox, “Even The Devil Believes” is the band’s 13th studio release and the first album to feature new bassist Perry Richardson (Firehouse). Unintended to preach from pulpit high, but rather leave a strong impact on listeners in the hope of blessing everyone through the darkest of times, the salvation on hand isn’t in any peaceful tranquility though, but rather 11 tracks of fire and brimstone blessed by the heavens themselves. I mean, the energy here is unreal from big guitars to massive drums and pumping bass, it’s like Stryper decided to revisit their stadium days by bringing it all back into one record! Powering in on ‘Blood From Above’, Michael Sweet’s scream lights the fuse to his brother’s double bass drums, as he and Fox ignite the fast riffs graced by harmony-laden melodies all leading up to an epic chorus stoked by plenty of rock n roll breaks – but all with the single unifying theme of positivity and hope. Smashing in with huge drums on ‘Divider’, the thick twin guitars bite and crunch as Richardson’s rolls into a punchy groove matched by the air punching shouted out chorus before the wailing solos rip into action as Michael screams in the ending – wow! In contrast is the acoustic cow rock of ‘This I Pray’ with its rhyming lyrics partly drawn from the children’s pray of ‘Now Lay Me Down To Sleep’ and some truly blissful soul in Michael’s singing and when added to by the flowing guitars, is undeniable in its warmth and comfort, yet laced with an undercurrent of strength for the inspiration to fight on – beautiful. Ending fast ‘n’ loose with the all-out rocker of ‘Middle Finger Messiah’, the fast guitars and rumbling bass match the stampeding drums while the bountiful harmonies and Michael’s vocal passion don’t just lead up to a monster headbanging finale, but one equally blessed by an almighty amen. Superb music, super soul and stellar vibes – what more could you ask for from Stryper – it’s 777 all over again!