Frontiers [Release date 04.09.20]
Stryper’s 13th studio album, “Even The Devil Believes” follows hard the heels of “God Damn Evil” (their fourth on Frontiers). When you’re hot you’re hot.
Vocalist/Guitarist/producer, Michael Sweet lets loose a high pitched howl as he strides onto the opening track’s melodic metal battlefield. It is clearly a statement of intent. Not for a moment does ‘Blood From Above’ shy away from the band’s beliefs. It carries an emphatic emotional weight, calling out the redemptive power of love and sacrifice.
Sweet’s been around so long now that anything bearing his vocal imprint cannot immediately be dated. His voice straddles several decades of rock and metal transition, and that’s a distinct advantage for a band with a past. His voice has matured and evolved subtly over the years, often adding a veneer of operatic grandeur to the uplifting stuff, like ‘Let Him In’ and ‘Invitation Only’.
Strangely, world events might perversely be good for rock’n'roll. Violence in the streets, the disenfranchised, the homeless, are all perennial topics that rock has proved adept at exploring – even illuminating over the years. And the charged lyrics of ‘Make Love Great Again’ and ‘Divider’ don’t need explanation.
Politicised metal is a rare commodity, and these tightly structured songs, full of hard hitting observations and empathy for wounded souls, dispense their own form of lyrical justice.
Despite being surrounded by the music’s unabashed brazen power and steel reinforced riffs, ‘Do Unto Others’ and ‘How To Fly’ might just remind you of the band’s softer rocking beginnings. Their trademark, Beatlish harmonies constantly seep through the armour plating, here there and everywhere, forming an underlying soundtrack to the album.
Arguably, “Even The Devil Believes” might just be Stryper’s most significant album, one where they’ve felt free to express their beliefs without restraint. At the same time marrying bruising metal meditations to the echoes and residues of a softer rock past. *****
Review by Brian McGowan
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