STRYPER — The Final Battle

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STRYPER - The Final Battle cover
3.50 | 2 ratings | 2 reviews
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Album · 2022

Filed under Heavy Metal
By STRYPER

Tracklist

1. Transgressor (4:25)
2. See No Evil, Hear No Evil (4:54)
3. Same Old Story (4:09)
4. Heart & Soul (4:00)
5. Near (4:53)
6. Out, Up & In (4:12)
7. Rise to the Call (3:47)
8. The Way, the Truth, the Life (3:54)
9. No Rest for the Wicked (4:21)
10. Till Death Do Us Part (3:54)
11. Ashes to Ashes (3:53)

Total time 46:22

Line-up/Musicians

Robert Sweet / Drums
Oz Fox / Guitars, Vocals
Michael Sweet / Vocals, Guitars
Perry Richardson / Bass

About this release

Frontiers Records, 21 October 2022

Thanks to Vim Fuego for the addition

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STRYPER THE FINAL BATTLE reviews

Specialists/collaborators reviews

Kev Rowland
When I came back from university in 1984 I was intrigued to discover that my sister had been seeking out Christian rock music, which soon gained the genre name of White Metal. One band interested me in particular, Stryper, as I was also heavily into Kiss in this period and was intrigued how another band was using imagery so prominently within their music. I bought their first two albums from America, but was not a huge fan of their third, ‘To Hell With The Devil’ and lost interest not long afterwards. Then 10 years ago they signed with Frontiers and this is their fifth album with them, so consequently I have heard more of their music in recent years than I have in decades. In March they came to New Zealand for the first time in aeons and I was fortunate enough to be there reviewing, and I was blown away by what was a wonderful performance from a rock band who have never strayed from their stance, and still give out New Testaments at their shows. That three of the original members, Michael Sweet (lead vocals, guitar, keyboards, piano), Robert Sweet (drums, percussion) and Oz Fox (guitar, vocals) are still there is nothing short of incredible as they enter their fifth decade as a band, while this is the third album for bassist Perry Richardson (who first found fame in Firehouse).

Here we have a band who know what they are about, have found their niche, and see no reason whatsoever to change it. They may not have the hunger and desire which came through in the first albums when they were so beloved of the glam scene, yet when it comes to music this is all about melodic hard rock with great hooks and the wonderful vocals of Michael Sweet. Not only does he have an ongoing project with George Lynch (Dokken), but he was also lead singer and guitarist with Boston for a period as well, not an easy gig at all. Their lyrics are still Christian, as that is what this band has always been about, they even took their name from a bible passage in Isaiah 53:5, "By His stripes we are healed", which is still part of the band's logo. Yes, the yellow and black striped attire is a gimmick, as is Robert’s kit being placed at a 90 degree angle to the norm so everyone can see him more easily, “the visual timekeeper”. But at the heart of this is solid music which is enjoyable the first time it is played, and one can easily relax into it even if the listener may not agree with the words being used. When Sweet screams in falsetto as he does on “No Rest for the Wicked” it is effortless, and so very easy indeed.

Is this something which will encourage new fans to listen to them? Not sure on that, as I still prefer the albums when they were out to prove something and the world was against them, but it is certainly something which will please those who have been following their career over the years. I only hope they come here again soon, Michael did promise.
Vim Fuego
Mainstream metal fans have always had a couple of problems with Stryper which has held the band back from greater success.

The first is the obvious one – the Christian lyrics and message the band has been broadcasting for the best part of 40 years. However, celebrations of, and exhortations to, Big Daddy, J.C., and the Spook, er... I mean the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (gotta keep the atheist piss-taking to a minimum here because this is a review of the album, not the religion) aside, Stryper have produced some absolutely banging metal tunes over the years. Take the first track from “The Final Battle” as an example. “Transgressor” is a booming lead-off track, so forget those old 80s glam metal reservations you might still be hanging on to. This is a full on powerful heavy-fucking-metal… oh, sorry, heavy-f***ing-metal song. Solos, a relentless rhythm, killer Judas Priest/Saxon/Accept style riffs, and lyrics guiding you on the path to eternal life, if you so desire. Yes, Stryper can rock hard with the best of them.

And so the album continues. Musically “See No Evil, Hear No Evil” isn’t a million miles distant from Judas Priest’s “Touch of Evil”, and vocalist Michael Sweet even hits a Halford style falsetto scream. “Same Old Story” and “Heart & Soul” are a pair of stadium rockers which modern day Mötley Crüe would kill for, all with positive, life-affirming messages instead of death and destruction or party anthem lyrics.

So far, so good. This is exactly what anyone who’s been paying attention to Stryper over the years would expect. However, the second problem hinted at earlier rears it’s ugly head with fifth track “Near”. The bane of many a young metalhead from the 80s, it’s a POWER BALLAD! Yep, Stryper’s ballads are just awful. The ballads are just so sappy and saccharine, and with the Christian sentiments come across as the Imagine Dragons of metal. These songs might really tear it up in the live setting in an evangelical mega-church, but in recorded form these are the tracks the skip button or air sickness bags were designed for.

From here on, the rest of the album seems to lose a bit of it’s bite, teetering between hands-in-the-air hard rock hymns to Him, and rockers that don’t quite roll like the first few tracks. The album could easily have just fizzled out like this, but final track “Ashes To Ashes” elbows it’s way in, and it’s a rocker which wouldn’t seem out of place on a W.A.S.P. album.

The Yellow and Black Attack have always been a bit problematic for metal fans not looking for religious messages in their music. The messaging has put off a lot of potential listeners over the years (yes, I’ll own up, I was one), but if you can put prejudices and preconceptions aside, and then filter through the filler tracks, there’s some absolute killer metal contained here. Just make sure your finger on the skip button is quicker than your gag reflex when you hit the ballad...

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