Stryper’s frontman Michael Sweet added yet another record to his discography, when “One sided war” was released worldwide in August 2016 under the label of Rat Pak Records. Following the success of his last studio album “I’m Not Your Suicide”; for his 7th studio solo project, Michael teamed up with Joel Hoekstra of the Whitesnake and ex-Night Ranger fame, guitarist Ethan Brosh, bassist John O’Boyle and drummer Will Hunt of the Evanescence fame. Michael has been rocking the scene for almost three decades now and with this power packed album, he sustains his momentum and delivers a good taste of the 80s’ Hard rock and metal scene.
Michael states, “Musically it’s my heaviest solo album, It’s not thrash metal but there are definitely some songs on there that will pop out at you. There are some songs that have a bit of the Iron Maiden / Dio feel to them, as well as some songs that have a little bit of a Van Halen influence to them. It’s a very guitar-oriented, hard rock/metal album with lots of melodies and hooks. Originally I planned on showcasing my own guitar playing; I was going to do it all myself, but once I brought Joel & Ethan into the picture, things began to take a new direction and I am very happy with what we have accomplished”.
As I listened through the album, I did get a flashback of the 80’s, bringing in fond memories of listening to the Iron maiden records I had as a teenager. The album opens up with a fast paced and upbeat sound with shrill vocals and a pelting guitar solo on “Bizarre”. The song is tightly packed and holds on to its pace perfectly throughout. Be it for the blitzing drums, the palm muted guitar riffs, the rumbling bass or the melodic verse, “One sided War” stands out and kicks you in the face, you just need to sit back and reel in the ambience the song creates.
A heavy guitar riff, marching drums and high squeaking guitars opens up the track “Can’t take this Life”, a face melting guitar solo adds the icing on the cake to this masterpiece. There is a bonus track with an alternative approach in vocal harmony, featuring the young and upcoming vocalist Moriah Formica. ”Radio” remains the most listened track on my playlist, its old school country style guitar intro amalgamated with the modern rock and roll theme and the hilarious lyrics tickles your funny bone.
“Only you” and “Who Am I” are the power ballads on the album, melody may not be the strong suit on the album but plenty of it is present in these songs. “Golden age” follows the age old heavy metal template and the song writing is impeccable. By the time I reached “I Am”, “You Make Me Wanna” and “Comfort Zone”, I’ve sort off gauged the mechanics behind the album and at this point I’ve realized, there isn’t much versatility on the vocal segments, as I rarely experienced Michael bringing in some in his singing.
“One way up” sounds like the classics metal track, travelled all the way to the present, with a tinge of Jon BonJovi on the vocals and AC/DC on the sound, this song is a refresher to all those whose body has moved to the present but the ear’s still stuck in the 80s’.
Production – The production on this album was amazing, Michael does a great job as a producer, and I loved how everything on this album was raw and in your face, and this has to be the tightest line-up in the recent times.
Conclusion – What can I say more than what I’ve said already, for anyone out there who is wishing to be transported back to the 80s’, I’ve got breaking news. “One sided war” is your ticket to the time machine, and make sure you enjoy every bit of this whimsical and fantastic ride.
Written by: Ankit Sood
Band Members :
Michael Sweet – Vocals and Guitars
Joel Hoekstra – Guitars
Ethan Brosh – Guitars
John O’Boyle – Bass
Will Hunt – Drums
2. One Sided War
3. Can’t Take This Life
5. Golden Age
6. Only You
7. I Am
8. Who Am I
9. You Make Me Wanna
10. Comfort Zone
11. One Way Up
12. Can’t Take This Life (feat. Moriah Formica)
“Unstryped” EP (1992)
“Michael Sweet” (1994)
“Real” (October 1995)
“Truth” demo 1998)
“I’m Not Your Suicide” (2014) [review]
“One Side War” (2016)
Record label: Rat Pak Records, Aug. 2016
Video below: ‘Radio’
Video below: ‘Bizar’
Video below: “One Sided War” (EPK)