There’s plenty to bang your head to on this project, air-guitar moments galore, and enough gritty but operatic metal vocal licks to challenge the toughest of vocal chords ….
Rat Pak Records
12 tracks / 49:35
The scream is still there, as strong as ever – it’s one of the first things you hear on “Better Part of Me,” the first track of Michael Sweet’s new solo project, Ten. The voice of Stryper steps away from the band once again (don’t worry – it’s only temporary) to produce another powerhouse solo project with a little help from his friends. And this guy’s got some heavy-duty amigos! Ten features guest appearances by Jeff Loomis of Arch Enemy, Todd La Torre of Queensryche, Andy James, Tracii Guns of LA Guns, Rich Ward of Fozzy, Joel Hoekstra of Whitesnake, Gus G of Firewind, Howie Simon, Ethan Brosh, Marzi Montazeri, Will Hunt of Evanescence , John O’Boyle, Mike Kerr and Ian Raposa of Firstbourne, among others.
“It’s called Ten,” explains Michael, “because it’s my tenth album and because there’s a title track on there about the Ten Commandments.” As far as the style, well Michael continues: “There’s real heavy stuff. It starts kind of smacking you in the face and it ends kicking you in the gut.” Not a bad capsule review – I’ve got to learn how to get to the point like that… Of course, a valid question is, how is this different from a Stryper album? Good question. The easy answer is because there’s no Oz Fox, Robert Sweet, or Perry Richardson. Stylistically, there are none of the signature Stryper layered harmony choruses or tandem Sweet/Fox guitar lines. If you like the heavier leanings of the most recent Stryper albums, you’ll be happy to know that Ten, in many ways, dials that up to… well, to ten.
The album is full of great vocals by Sweet, sometimes singing in duet (most notably with Todd La Torre on “Son of Man”) and spectacular shredding by a variety of guest ax-men. There’s plenty to bang your head to on this project, air-guitar moments galore, and enough gritty but operatic metal vocal licks to challenge the toughest of vocal chords. The Big Ballad is “Let it be Love” and the barn-burner is the aforementioned closing track, “Son of Man,” which I’m guessing will be called out-for at many a Stryper concert. Sorry, Michael – it’s just gonna’ happen…
As expected, there’s plenty of Christian content in the lyrics – Sweet hasn’t watered the gospel down for this guest-heavy project. The theology is less than subtle (“He’s the Son of Man – coming back again” never sounded more threatening) and the title track is a pretty literal re-telling of God’s top ten. How many other metal albums warn you that you’d better honor your father and mother? Fun fact: “Ten” is track five – not great for us type A people, but what’cha gonna’ do?
Ten is on the must-have list for Stryper fans and for those who have been enjoying Michael Sweet’s recent solo albums. Well produced, hard rocking, and meant to be played loud. Turn it up to… oh, you know.
Bert Saraco is a professional photographer – for his concert photography, which features pictures of Stryper as well as many others, visit: