Stryper – “God Damn Evil” (Frontiers Records)
Having already courted criticism just for the title of this 10th album (ironically from some Christians believing it to be a profane statement!), you just know there’s only one band in the world that can garner this kind’ve response even before a release can hit the shelves – Stryper! Long used to controversy, this platinum selling Christian metal legend have long seen it as part of their passage towards salvation in walking in the footsteps of martyrs before them. Formed and led by the Sweet brothers, who show little signs of mellowing out in their maturity, “God Damn Evil” is the band’s clear statement to all the negativity, hatred and well, evil in the world today. Call it naive. Call it idealistic. Call it whatever you want cos the Sweet brothers probably don’t care because they go where their faith takes them. If the concept wasn’t heavy enough, then the sound is even more steaming – and quite possibly their most intense yet! Opening with the epic ‘Take It To The Cross’ with its shocking rapid fire screaming of the song’s title, Michael Sweet is actually trying to blow away the darkness that surrounds society physically, and on ‘The Devil Doesn’t Live Here’ his soaring highs and trem wild guitar are matched by the brutal drumming of his brother Robert literally knocking the demon out’ve his drum kit ha ha! In between Stryper bring back the holy glory of the 80s on ‘You Don’t Even Know’ whose slower tempo belies the sheer spiritual immensity of its deep and powerful chorus while on ‘Can’t Live Without Your Love’ the ubiquitous 80s ballad rears its head tenderly in Sweets soulful highs, soothing harmonies and even more genteel guitars so get ready with the tissues. Crushing with raw heavy riffs and ballsy bass on ‘Own Up’, Sweet’s vocals glide suavely across culminating in a catchy almost pop like chorus – an excellent contrast to the gutsy backdrop of this song but showing that aside from all the controversy (which the band have always claimed they have never engineered) at the heart of this band are some truly talented musicians – just check out the sterling solos of Sweet and lead guitarist Oz Fox and you’ll know just what I’m talkin’ about! While not being an instant fix to saving the world, “God Damn Evil” does do a fine job of bringing back authentic 80s hair metal in just the way that only the Sweet brothers know how to stir interest – devil not included!