Michael Sweet really does not need much of an introduction. Born in July 1963 he is a singer who is best known as the co-founder, lead guitarist and vocalist and front man for the Christian rock band Stryper as well as being the co-lead vocalist and guitarist for the rock band, Boston from 2007 – 2011. Stryper is probably one of the most famous Christian rock bands out there, and their continued presence and faith, has shown them as being one of the most influential rock bands to come out of the Christian music scene.
Sweet and his brother in the early 80’s formed a band called Roxx Regime playing in small venues. They were a trio for a period of time with Sweet being the regular guitarist of the band. Later on the band would become Stryper. The band has become synonymous over the years for challenging the stereotype that heavy metal is inheritably satanic and thus was a pioneering factor in bringing Christian rock to the mainstream. The bands reputation somewhat declined during the 1990’s but has recently again seemed to have found some popularity.
The career of Michael Sweet has been an interesting one and after nine years as the lead singer/lead guitarist of Stryper, Sweet left the band in 1992 in order to pursue his solo career. His first release was a demo album titled Unstryped, which featured several songs that apparently was alleged to be intended for the band. Sweet later included some of these on his first full-length album.
His self titled debut was released in 1994 sold over 250 000 copies. He followed that up with the slightly softer approached, Real, in 1996 that earned him a Dove Award Nomination. During the time of leaving Benson Records shortly after Real’s release him and his wife moved to Massachusetts where he worked for his father-in-law. He released another demo entitled Truth independently in 1988 which was received with critical acclaim. This demo was re-released in 2000 on Restless Records. In August of 2006 he released Him which featured traditional hymns re-written and arranged by himself.
The death of his wife, Kyle, was announced on March the 5th 2009, after her two year battle with ovarian cancer. He released the album Touched (2007) in honour of her.
I’m Not Your Suicide (2014) marks the 8th solo release of Micheal Sweet. So what has a 7 years hiatus conjured up for us in the album I’m Not Your Suicide. Well on my first listen through I really enjoyed the warm guitar sound, it really has a deep solid sound and brings a modern edge to this aging artist. You don’t feel like you listening to an artist hanging on past laurels, and thus you get a fresh sound that comes through. Its a rock album that glistens with metal sentiment and attitude with strong well rounded ballads that are thrown into the mix.
Well like any good album, or influential musician, what would a good album be without some great guests appearing on it? It adds to the character and fun factor of the album, well it should at least if it’s done with the right artists who are not only friends of the musician but catch the heart of what the artist is expressing through his music. We get to experience the talents of several powerhouse musicians which include the likes of Tony Harnell, Chris Jericho, Doug Aldrich, Elektra Mustaine, and others
“All That’s Left (For Me To Prove)” is straight out of the rock blue prints of a melodic radio friendly hit, and a good gut level kickstart to the album that brings to mind of the early 90’s rock invasion. Songs like “This Time” and “The Cause” are vocally outstanding and inspiring. “This Time” gives a very modern edge, yet retains the gene’s of a great 90’s rock ballad. “The Cause” carries a strong arena rock feel with sing-a-long vocalization that should be a great song in a live context.
“Taking On The world Tonight” is a rock riot explosion that takes the fight to the street. It holds as a personal favourite for this release. Energy infused rock that comes rolling thunderously solid and legit. While the title track, “I’m Not Your Suicide” hits with a ballistic punch with a strong message with a modern rock feel that has its feet in the 80’s rock roots that delivers an anthemic appeal.
One thing that highlight’s Sweets career is the strong song writing skills he has developed over the years, and “How To Live”, is a great example of that. Personally ballads are a bit of a rock cliché’ and they tend to get me sleeping at the wheel, but on this album ballads like this deliver strongly with punctuation making what is often peeked as cliché’ seem relevant and purposeful adding another dimension and depth to the album.
“Unsuspecting” digs deep into the classic metal genre sprouting a rocking song with great guitar antics with a superb guitar solo as a cherry on top of the ice cream. I love ice-cream. So this song features as one of the highlights on the album.
“Heart Of Gold” is performed twice on the album, once with Michael solo and then with Elektra Mustaine sharing vocal duties. It gives the song a great platform for originality, giving a strong rendition of the Neil Young classic.
It’s a strong collection of songs that keep the album fresh and energetic throughout even in the slower more ballad orientated songs. Perfection is a strong word, but there is a perfect blend of strong songs here that make the album engaging and listenable not just for the first or second listen, but on a continued basis.
I don’t think one would feel compelled to bash you stereo system in if you heard a song from this release on the radio, and I certainly did not feel compelled to have to keep my finger on the skip button on any of the songs.
I enjoyed listening to the album while I was showering, don’t know if that is a good or bad thing to give it any comparison to shower music, but its great music to pass the time with, whether you showering, hanging with friends or keeping boredom from eroding your brain.
The album releases track for track with a melodic force reminiscent of a greatest hits compilation. I can almost guarantee that this will be on every Stryper fan’s “to get” list. Certainly this has all the ingredients to make it one of the top rock releases for the year. It embraces a strong rock faithfulness while still embodying some of those ‘Stryper metal’ elements that has made Stryper such a legendary and iconic rock band both in the Christian and Secular music scene. If you like Stryper then this is for you. If you want Stryper with a more modern day rock flavour then this is for you. If you want a good rock album period, then this is for you. It demands high volume listening experience by an artist who has delivered a near masterpiece of a rock album.
For fans: Van Halen, Judas Priest, Stryper, Bon Jon Jovi, Def Leppard
Written by: Donovan de Necker
01. Taking On The World Tonight [featuring Tony Harnell]
02. All That’s Left [For Me To Prove]
03. The Cause
04. This Time [featuring Kevin Max]
05. I’m Not Your Suicide [co-written with Blair Daly]
06. Coming Home
07. Miles Away
09. How To Live [featuring Robert Sweet and Timothy Gaines of Stryper]
10. Heart Of Gold
11. Anybody Else [featuring Chris Jericho and Doug Aldrich]
13. Heart Of Gold [featuring Electra Mustaine] (bonus Track)
Unstryped (EP 1992)
Michael Sweet (July 26, 1994)
Real (October 1995)
Truth (demo 1998)
Truth (official release 2000)
I’m Not Your Suicide (2014)
Record Label: Big 3 Records, May 2014
Video below ‘I’m Not Your Suicide’
Lyric video ‘The Cause’