Following the release of the Murder by Pride album in 2009, the pioneers of Christian Metal, Stryper, have been teasing their soldiers about releasing an album packed full of original material. A cover album (The Covering) and an album featuring old songs re-recorded (Second Coming) filled the 5 year gap; but the wait is finally over, as the yellow and black boys release their brand new album, No More Hell to Pay.
First thing’s first, this release is quite a special one, as it is not only their first original piece of work in five years; but it is also the first time all of the original Stryper members have released a full length, original feature in over 20 years. So, to hear ‘the old gang back together again’ is really something else.
The album launches into the melodic “Revelation” that features a catchy guitar intro. The one thing that I noticed with this track was that it has a similar sound to some tracks off the “To Hell with the Devil” album.
Without a shadow of a doubt, this album is Stryper’s heaviest in their 30 year career.
This is due to tracks such as “Saved by Love” and “Marching into Battle” which are filled with punchy guitar riffs and glass shattering vocal performances from lead vocalist/guitarist Michael Sweet who pushes his vocals to the limit!
Alongside their original tracks they performed the widely known Art Reynolds Singers song “Jesus Is Just Alright.” The band takes this piece to a whole new level as they transform it from soul to rock ‘n’ roll, featuring a guitar solo standoff between Michael Sweet and other lead guitarist Oz Fox.
Whilst the album is considered to be the band’s “heaviest” album, it is still quite melodic. This was shown primarily in the peaceful ballad entitled “The One.” A sense of Ronnie James Dio can be felt throughout the track
Stryper have never been shy about sharing who their musical influences are, which was shown through their release of The Covering. One influence which has remained strong is the legendary British metal band Judas Priest. This influence really shines through in the track “Legacy,” in which it could be said that Michael Sweet seemed to be echoing Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford through his vocals.
“Te Amo” (which is Spanish for “I love you”) was not only my favourite but it was possibly the strongest track off the whole album. This fast paced piece is bursting with sheer power, especially throughout the guitar teamwork of both Michael Sweet and Oz Fox. The vocal harmonies in the chorus are also the strongest harmonies on the whole the album. Again, this track had a very “To Hell with the Devil” sound, almost as if it was an unreleased track to the band’s iconic album of the same name.
“Water into Wine,” which is based on the well-known miracle performed by Jesus Christ in the Gospel of John, sees the style of the album change from full on heavy metal to a more blues rock sound which could be comparable to the tone of bands such as AC/DC.
The album closes with “Renewed” which features dynamic, yet frightening vocal harmonies in the chorus. Personally, I thought that the strongest feature of the track was the song’s breakdown, which was very Black Sabbath like in the way in which Michael Sweet attempted to break windows with his high pitched screams, bringing the record to a close.
Stryper may have made their fans wait 5 years for this album to be released, but after listening to it, it was definitely worth the wait. In my opinion, No More Hell to Pay is an outstanding piece of material in which the yellow and black boys show that even after 30 years they are still a force to be reckoned.
2. No More Hell To Pay
3. Saved By Love
4. Jesus Is Just Alright (Art Reynolds Singers Cover)
5. The One
7. Marching Into Battle
8. Te Amo
9. Sticks And Stones
10. Water Into Wine
Michael Sweet – Lead Vocals/Guitar
Oz Fox – Lead Guitar/Backing Vocals
Timothy Gaines – Bass/Backing Vocals
Robert Sweet – Drums