Album review: SWEET AND LYNCH – Only to Rise

Sweet & Lynch - Only To Rise

Frontiers Records [Release Date 23.01.15]

Sweet and Lynch may sound like a firm of corporate lawyers, an image accentuated by the album cover of the pair suited and booted in front of a cityscape of skyscrapers, but it is the latest in Frontiers Records many collaborations between noted  stars of the eighties rock scene .

The project brings together Stryper singer Michael Sweet with George Lynch, latterly of the eponymous Lynch Mob but most famous for his incendiary guitar tapping in Dokken, which made him one of the most revered guitarists in the eighties (even if his supposedly having taught Eddie Van Halen appears to be an urban myth). The Pride and Glory rhythm section of James Lomenzo and Brian Tichy complete the all-star cast.

Despite George dabbling in darker, more contemporary guitar tones in recent years, this album – as you might expect from the Frontiers stable – is firmly rooted in the mainstream melodic hard rock that both Stryper and Dokken made their name with in the eighties. The production is very sharp and the openers ‘The Wish’ and ‘Like A Dying Rose’ have the hooks and sound of prime time Dokken, even if the chorus pay-offs come quite late in the song.

Michael’s vocals are quite superb, delivered with clarity and a considerable vocal range. The lyrics do not appear overtly Christian although I am sure meaning can be found in some of the allegorical messages.

While most of the songs are up tempo, ‘Love Stays’ three songs in is a slower, more mid-tempo number that doubtless would have received MTV airplay back in the day and the ballad ‘Me Without You’ is one of the most Dokken-sounding songs on view.

Oddly the best song by far is buried half way through the album.  ‘Recover’ has a killer chorus with Michael screaming the high notes above a gang-type chorus and a shredding but melodic solo from George. ‘Divine’ is less commercial and far more a vehicle for the latter to stretch and work out.

Other highlights include the bluesy, slow burning  ‘Rescue Me’ and ‘Strength In Numbers’ , the latter with an Eastern feel, with the strange coincidence they share two Tyketto song titles from the same album, and  ‘September’ with an intro straight from Iron Maiden’s ‘Wasted Years’ and a 9/11 themed lyric.

There is some filler among the killer with ‘Time Will Tell’ and the two closers, ‘Hero-Zero’ and the title track let down by rather repetitive and unmemorable hooks and choruses.

Nevertheless this is a strong and cohesive album that exceeded my expectations for it and  it will appeal to fans of Dokken, Stryper or indeed most of their US eighties contemporaries.  ****

Review by Andy Nathan

Michael Sweet answers a few questions:

What have you planned for the next few months music wise?

We’re working on a new Stryper album, I’m producing a few projects as well as a new solo album. I’ve been very busy and I’m thankful for that!

How did you hook-up with George Lynch? Was it instigated by Frontiers? How did you get such a top notch rhythm section in James Lomenzo and Brian Tichy?

Serafino suggested me singing on an album he wanted to do and I was then brought in to produce, write and sing. I put the band together and instantly thought of George, Brian & James. It’s a great band!

The album works really well having your distinctive vocals and the Dokken/Lynch Mob sound in much of the music. Any plans to tour and will there be another album?

Absolutely! We are working on a short run involving key city dates and hopefully it will all come together. It’s difficult aligning everyone’s busy schedules but I know it can be done:-)

Were you pleased to the reaction to your solo album last year ‘I’m Not Your Suicide’?

I was very pleased! I do however feel that it was very limited (the marketing and promotion) so there for the album suffered in that regard. Many people did not have the chance to hear/see it.

Stryper played the UK a couple of years ago and went down a storm. Does the band intend to come back this year at all and why have Stryper not played the UK that often?

We do plan to return. We love our UK fans and sometimes things don’t always line up. We are working on putting together a world tour for 2016!

Stryper are lucky in that unlike many fellow 80′s bands you still have the original line-up (albeit Tim Gaines rejoined back in 2010). Why do you think this is?

We try to communicate and work things out. We’re not perfect but we realize at the end of the day that it’s all about communication and forgiveness. We always get through whatever we’re faced with.

Message for your fans…

We love you dearly and will keep giving our all to you! Thank you for 30 years of love and support…..

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