By the early 1980’s the American christian music industry had warmed up to the idea of hard music. In 1984 Stryper released ‘The Yellow and Black Attack’, Saint released ‘Warriors of the Son’ and the term “Christian metal” was officially born. As more people came to faith through the metal scene in America, it became apparent that the mainstream churches didn’t want the long-hairs mixing with their nice, respectable people. So Pastor Bob Beeman started the ministry “Sanctuary – The Rock and Roll Refuge”. Sanctuary’s first worship leader was Michael Sweet of Stryper.
In 1985, Stryper released ‘Soldiers Under Command’, which sold just over half a million copies, and Heaven’s Metal Magazine was launched. Then in 1986, Stryper released their now legendary album ‘To Hell with the Devil’. This didn’t go as smoothly as planned to start with, as many christian shops refused to stock the album with its original “Angel” cover art. So they had to put it out with a very bland cover. The album eventually sold 2 million copies (I think it is still the best selling christian metal album to date).
Stryper were so huge at the time that they even had Metallica as their support act. During concerts, Stryper would throw bibles into the crowd with the bands logo and “777” on the front. This was a clever bit of marketing against the “666” used by many secular bands. Although “777” is not actually in the Bible (whereas “666” is in Revelations as the number of the beast, the number 7 is associated with divine perfection). Yet the famous television evangelist, Jimmy Swaggart, felt the need to declare that christian rock and metal was the music of the devil and specifically criticised Stryper, Petra and Larry Norman.
Given that the band was given such a rough time by the religious establishment back in the day, we have a lot to be grateful for them in persisting. Now here we are in 2013 with their latest album, ‘Second Coming’. It contains 14 re-recorded classics, two from ‘The Yellow And Black Attack’, six from ‘Soldiers Under Command’, six from ‘To Hell With The Devil’, as well as two new tracks, ‘Bleeding From Inside Out’ and ‘Blackened’.
When asked why they chose to re-record their old songs, Michael Sweet stated “First, because we wanted to cut out the middle men and have a little more control over our own songs. Second, we wanted to ‘fix’ some things that have annoyed the ‘hell’ out of us for the past 30 years such as: no bass in the mix of ‘The Yellow And Black Attack’ or ‘Soldiers Under Command’, and no Tim [Gaines, bass] on the mix of ‘To Hell With The Devil’. The fact that I sound a little more like a man instead of a helium-induced kid at Disneyland. The sheer joy of still loving these songs and still being able to perform these songs (well, we’ll let the experts be the judge of that). And last but not certainly least? We did it just because we wanted to.”
Being a long-time Stryper fan, I was somewhat sceptical. That was until I hit ‘play’ and the testosterone fuelled rock made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. This is not a bunch of old-timers living on past glories, more like a hungry new band out for blood! Of the two new tracks, ‘Bleeding From The Inside Out’ harks back to the era of Saxon’s ‘Denim and Leather’ riffage that smoulders, swaggers and stomps. “You’re bleeding from inside out / Wounded beyond your own recognition / You’re bandaged in fear and doubt / Brought to your knees by a life and death collision”. Whereas ‘Blackened’ surges like a rock behemoth.
Loud N’ Clear
Soldiers Under Command
Makes Me Wanna Sing
The Rock That Makes Me Roll
To Hell With The Devil
Calling On You
Sing Along Song
More Then A Man
Bleeding From The Inside Out (New)
Michael Sweet – vocals, guitar
Robert Sweet – drums, percussion
Oz Fox – guitar, vocals
Tim Gaines – bass, vocals
Soldiers Under Command 
To Hell with the Devil 
In God We Trust 
Against the Law 
Can’t Stop the Rock [Compilation – 1991]
7 Seven the Best of Stryper [Compilation – 2003]
7 Weeks : Live in America 2003 [Live – 2004]
Extended Versions [Live – 2006]
Greatest Hits – Live in Puerto Rico [Live – 2007]
The Roxx Regime Demos [Compilation – 2007]
Murder by Pride 
The Covering 
Second Coming [Compilation – 2013]
Record Label: Frontiers Records, March 2013