Stryper – “The Final Battle”

 Posted by on November 14, 2022 at 19:49  No Responses »
Nov 142022

Stryper return with their 14th album, one that will not disappoint longtime fans and should win them some new ones if there is anyone who hasn’t heard of them yet. Don’t expect anything new, just great riffs and guitar solos, soaring strong vocals, a pounding rhythm section, and perhaps some nostalgia for the older crowd…

It’s been almost 40 years since Stryper debuted with The Yellow and Black Attack in 1984. Since then the band has sold over 10 million albums, had Top 40 hits, were nominated for a Grammy and were the first artist to have two songs in MTV’s Top 10 simultaneously back when MTV actually showed videos. For The Final Battle, the band had some things to overcome including Michael Sweet having to write lyrics while lying face down for a couple weeks after surgery. Given the band’s history and beliefs, subject matter on the album does in fact give a nod to themes of Armageddon with other topics including celebrating God’s love and mercy and finding relief in God during difficult times.

The album opens up with “Transgressor” and serves as the perfect introduction of what is to come. In fact the video will tell you everything you need to know about Stryper and the album. Fast guitar riff and some muted drums open up the track, building until Michael Sweet lets one of his signature screams go and then the song is off and running. Instantly, I was transported back to the late 80’s metal in terms of song structure, performances, and high quality production. Interestingly, Sweet must have been still recovering from retina surgery as he’s wearing a patch in the video is anyone is wondering about that visual element. Robert Sweet pounds on the drums and as you might expect there is a harmony guitar solo part and trading solos between Michael Sweet and Oz Fox, both of which are still at the top of their game.

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Oct 042021

Timo Tolkki’s Avalon project returns with another symphonic power metal rock opera project featuring an all-star cast of guest vocalists who shine in this collection of songs.

For those who don’t know, Avalon is a metal opera project of guitarist Timo Tolkki (ex-Stratovarius), and the project has released four full length albums, The Land of New Hope (2013), Angels of the Apocalypse (2014), Return to Eden (2019), and now The Enigma Birth (2021). As these are projects, they have had a variety of guest musicians from the likes of Stratovarious, Sonata Arctica, Dream Theater, but more importantly, the guest vocalists that read like an all-star cast in metal and include, Rob Rock (Impelllitteri), Tony Kakko (Sonata Arctica), Sharon del Adel (Within Temptation), Elize Ryd (Amaranthe), Floor Jansen (Nightwish),and Simone Simons (Epica). For The Enigma Birth, Tolkki brought in , PelleK, Raphael Mendes (Icon of Sin), Brittney Hayes (Unleash the Archers), Marina La Torraca (Phantom Elite), Jake E (ex-Amaranthe), James LaBrie (Dream Theater), Caternia Nix (Chaos Magic), and Fabio Lione (Rhapsody of Fire).

The Enigma Birth wastes no time jumping right into the epic symphonic power metal Avalon is known for. “Enigma Birth” hits the ground at a breakneck pace with Pellek’s vocals also showing great range in the just the first few moments of the song. Immediately, one can’t help but hear the quality and care put into the production and mixing with vocals, keyboards, drums and bass all coming through clearly. Guitars are a bit too quiet in the mix for my taste which is a bit surprising given Timo Tolkki is a guitarist of renown, but this is a personal taste gripe on my part. As one might imagine, there are solos in the song but not just guitar but some guitar-keyboard trade off and all fitting will within the context of the song.

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Sunbomb – “Evil and Divine”

 Posted by on September 20, 2021 at 17:23  No Responses »
Sep 202021

Stryper’s Michael Sweet and L.A. Guns’ Tracii Guns have come together to collaborate on Sunbomb, with “Evil and Divine” being their first album released via Frontier Music on May 14, 2021. The idea was initiated when Serafino Perugino, president and A&R director of the label reached out to Tracii and Michael, with the idea of a heavy metal album where Tracii wrote the songs and Michael was asked to add to the vocal duties. Although both the bands have had their unique styles and different political/religious standpoints, a collaboration would be of keen interest to the fans, as we hear influences of Black Sabbath and Judas Priest with hints of Doom Metal influence on the album.

I had my apprehensions but more than that I was curious and intrigued to hear the album, so I spun off the album which opened up with “Life”. An interesting guitar riff kicks off the song and a tremendous energy is felt right at the outset, in no time we hear Michael unleashing his tremendous vocal range as we breeze through the song, uplifted; the blitzing guitar solo brings the delivery a notch higher. “Take me away” reminded me off Black Sabbath, the song, an omnipresent Doom beginning with a haunting vocal delivery which quivers and wavers and jolts you out of your stupor, and the melting guitar solo that’s sure to sweep you off your feet.

Michael unleashes some crazed squeals in “Better End”, a catchy guitar riff drives the song forward and adds much meat on the song, I liked how Michael and Tracii level it out in a competing attempt to hit high notes towards the end of the song. “No Tomorrows” has an upbeat vibe with explosive amounts of energy that’s going to set you grooving and quite a crafty interlude that leads on to a crunchy guitar solo followed by Michael pelting out high pitched squeals one after the other. “Born to Win” starts off with guitar chops that’s definitely going to teleport you to late 70s, and is such a song best enjoyed with the volume cranked all the way up and hair let loose all the way down, if you get my drift. No comparisons though, the song did remind me a bit of “Good times Bad Times” by Led Zeppelin.

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Mar 142021

Frontiers Music is excited to announce the release of the debut album, “Vagabond” from Germany’s Sonic Haven on May 7, 2021. Sonic Haven is a new metal band conceived and fronted by vocalist Herbie Langhans, one of the most gifted metal singers of the current European metal scene. The band joins Frontiers Music ever expanding roster of metal bands. Today, fans can get their first taste of the band’s debut, a stunning display of melodic power metal, via the release of the single and video for the title track.

“In the past few years, I didn’t write that many metal songs, so that’s why I was really on fire with Sonic Haven to do it again. I like classic, traditional and melodic metal with hard rock elements and sing-along parts, so my goal was to write an album that gives you a good feeling. You know, that makes you smile, that gives you goosebumps, that gives you power! I think it’s the perfect album to rest a bit in the Sonic Haven,” says vocalist/songwriter Herbie Langhans. “For most of the songs, I wrote and recorded demos (for two tracks, Carsten [Stepanowicz, guitars] recorded the demos and wrote the songs), then I sent it to everybody and everyone recorded their parts at home. In Sonic Haven, it was important for me to have musicians that can record at home in a good quality. And they also bring a lot of cool ideas and their own style to the music. So that’s why it’s so easy to work with these guys. It is just our first album, but it already worked like clockwork!!!”

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Stryper – “Even The Devil Believes”

 Posted by on October 28, 2020 at 01:06  No Responses »
Oct 282020

Stryper the American Christian metal band from Orange County, California has been around since about 1983, disbanded in 1993 and came back stronger than ever in 2003. Not many bands have lasted the journey as they have, at the level they have. Also Michael Sweet is still after 37 years one of the best vocalist the metal scene, Christian or otherwise has ever had. He still has the chops to deliver with precision, and has not become some beer belly has been wash up trying to kindle a flame that just does not want to ignite.

Well Stryper’s latest offering, “Even The Devil Believes” off Frontier records comes forth like a flaming sword, and one’s got to believe the devil is paying attention to these guys as they have come back stronger than ever in 2020. Some would call them, “God’s favourite Heavy metal band”. With the longevity of their career that sentiment might just be true. They have managed to stay off the naysayers and build a reliable fan base, and have certainly made their mark in the heavy metal scene as a whole.

Stryper come at it as strong as they ever have on “Even The Devil Believes”, and the album hits hard, loud and fast, three elements crucial to a great rock n roll album. The melodies are bigger than ever, Michaels’ vocals a weapon of metal music’s finest, and the instantly recognizable twin guitar solos still ignite goose bumps for fans as their metal footprint continues to expand. The album gets a lot of its strength through the clean production quality, and placement of the individual tracks. It all comes together quite cohesively as a package, covering any monotony there is in the album. I like the more heavier tone of the album as well, and I feel that aids their sound in given it that modern edge.

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