Along my sordid musical history, Stryper plays an interesting part. They were one of the few real concerts I attended during my high school years. It was an awesome show as well. Somehow, I talked our church youth group leader into driving us to Denver to the show. Stryper was on their To Hell with the Devil tour and were performing at Red Rocks Amphitheater. So, not only did I get to see them at the peak of their popularity, but in one of the most storied venues. The Yellow and Black Attack was in full force that night. Stryper had it all; Oz Fox’s neon lighted guitar, Robert Sweet’s sideways drum riser with water spurting drumsticks during the solo, Tim Gaines’ huge hair, and Robert Sweet’s amazing voice. The show had such a big impression on me that I bought a THWTD back patch for my jean jacket and The Yellow and Black Attack album on blue vinyl at the merch stand. Hell, I even sang their hit ballad ‘Honestly’ at my cousin’s wedding. So, when a new Stryper album comes out, you know I’m interested. This year, they celebrate their 35th anniversary with their tenth studio album, God Damn Evil.
Since Stryper’s signing with Frontiers Records in 2013, they’ve released two of the best albums of their career, and God Damn Evil follows suit. If you’ve paid any attention to those records, you know that Stryper haven’t been afraid to push the boundaries of their sound. Opening track ‘Take It to the Cross’ is just that. Featuring a guest appearance from Matt Bachand of Shadows Fall/Act of Defiance on death growls (!), it’s definitely one of, if not the heaviest track that Stryper has ever recorded. The next two tracks, ‘Sorry’ and ‘Lost,’ are both instant classics. These, along with the title track, will surely be setlist staples going forward. One thing about most of the new Stryper tunes is that they have and old school feel with a modern heavy flavor. ‘You Don’t Even Know Me,’ ‘The Valley,’ and ‘Beautiful’ are great examples of this, with ‘The Valley’ being one of the most “Strypery” songs ever. I mean, who else could write a song based on/using Psalm 23. All Stryper albums must have a ballad. God Damn Evil for all its heaviness is no exception. ‘Can’t Live without Your Love’ not only shows that Michael Sweet can still write a killer ballad, but Oz Fox’s solo is off the chain!
Doing anything for 35 years is hard. Being in a band for that long is even harder. Granted, Stryper haven’t “consistently” been together the entire time, but they’ve still lasted longer than most of their contemporaries. Stryper’s music has stood the test of time, and their ability to still (IMO) put out relevant material proves the talent they have. That’s probably why Stryper’s music has stuck with me over the years. God Damn Evil is more proof of whatever it was that hooked me back in the day is still there and isn’t going away anytime soon.