STRYPER — The Final Battle (review)

STRYPER — The Final Battle album cover Album · 2022 · Heavy Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
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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