Stryper – “Live At The Whisky” CD/DVD (Frontiers Music)
One of the most controversial bands in the annals of rock history, Stryper were a Christian Metal band – and unashamedly proud of it. Deriving their name from Isaiah 53:5 and led by the Sweet brothers, Michael on guitars and vocals, and Robert on drums, Stryper went on to release the Grammy nominated “To Hell With The Devil” that went multi platinum in 1986 along with two more albums that equally went gold before the band split in 1992. However, Stryper left an ineligible legacy on arena shows where Michael would throw bibles into the audience as well as their infamous neon ‘No Devil’ signs – not to mention Robert’s spinning drum risers. Despite cutting their teeth along with the other Sunset Strip bands, their soon developing spiritual and religious beliefs found little tolerance for going against the grain and defying the LA scene at the time, casting them out into the musical wilderness, often ridiculed by the mainstream – where they ironically found mega stardom and success! Still, this would backfire in 1990’s “Against The Law” where a shift in image from their trademark yellow n black stripe – inspired by Christ’s whip marks – to an all black leather look as well as a lyrical shift away from religion soon saw more criticism and waning support. Shortly after Michael departed the band, which continued as a trio before itself folding. However, in 2000 longtime fans organized a Stryper Expo with the complete line-up of Stryper taking to the stage for first time in 8 years. With a new found faith, the band slowly got back together, releasing “Reborn” in 2005 and “No More Hell To Pay” last year to much critical acclaim, some even saying it was Stryper’s best album! Recorded at the (in)famous Whisky A Go Go in the handful of sell out shows to support the release, this 16 song set list is a greatest hits compilation taking in the timeless greats of ‘Free’, ‘Soldiers Under Command’ and of course, ‘To Hell With The Devil’. The strength of the new material – and the band’s confidence in it – speaks for itself in being included alongside these firebrand anthems that decimated plenty of their stadiums in the 80s. Musically, the band are driven by the dual guitars of Sweet and Oz Fox being somewhat rawer and heavier than their glam peers, along with Robert’s hammer of god drum work. Michael’s voice remains as soulful and pure as before as he evangelically wails ‘Jesus…Jesus!!..release my best friend..’ during ‘Jesus Is Just Alright’ along with some fire of God guitar solos and wailing tremolo – but make no mistake, Stryper showed that Christians could kick ass! Backed up by heaps of angelic high pitched harmonies, their fervent belief in God is still evident and manifested in the passionate delivery in this note for note perfect performance, untouched by post production and as pure as the spirit itself. With a euphoric crowd response to boot – many of whom can actually be heard vocally in this excellent live recording – this CD / DVD package definitely places you at an unbelievably show where band and crowd sing in unison steadfast in their belief that someone up there still likes them.