pick-of-the-month. Michael Sweet I am not your suicide. Solo Sweet: a Stryper fan's treat – Michael hasn't gone saccharine....

I'm Not Your Suicide
Artist: Michael Sweet
Big3 Records
13 tracks / 49:58

The first sound you hear on Michael Sweet's new solo project, I'm Not Your Suicide is an air-raid siren. Although the album isn't as alarming as Stryper's most recent release (No More Hell to Pay), there's still plenty of fire power for your ears. As a matter of fact, I'm pretty sure it's safe to say that no Stryper fan will be disappointed with what they hear on this thirteen-track project.

The first song thunders out of the speakers with furious drums, pounding bass, driving guitars and Michael's signature soaring vocals. Several songs on I'm Not Your Suicide would fit comfortably on a Stryper project ("Taking On The World Tonight," "All That's Left," "Coming Home," "Anybody Else," and especially the rip-roaring "Unsuspecting"), and the exceptions still have Sweet's dynamic style and a heavy rocking sensibility at their core.

Of course Stryper albums have usually featured powerful ballads, and Sweet's solo project continues the tradition with "The Cause," "This Time," "Strong," and, in particular, the piano and string-laced love song, "How To Live." "This Time," shows us the first strong departure from the Stryper formula, with Sweet (accompanied by an unmistakable vocal cameo by Kevin Max) in a Beatle-esque mode, complete with strings and a very sixties-sounding synth part (think "Strawberry Fields").
The album's title track shows Michael in a more mainstream rock mode (although still leaning toward the heavier side). The most surprising sound on a Michael Sweet album would have to be pedal steel guitar – and yes, we get one in the country-rock ballad, "Coming Home." If Stryper covering DC Talk on their last album was a shocker, how about Michael Sweet covering Neil Young? Sweet rocks some country on "Heart of Gold," with some pedal-steel and Hammond organ ringing out under Sweet's fine vocal and stinging guitar solo. The song is reprised as a bonus track, adding Electra Mustaine (daughter of Megadeth's Dave Mustaine) as a second vocalist. The song's a winner both times.

"Miles Away" almost flirts with a flamenco rhythm in the acoustic guitar introduction at the start of the song, which eventually becomes a big, mid-tempo 'hard ballad.'
The self-produced I'm Not Your Suicide is a satisfying mix of Michael Sweet's heavy and softer sides, featuring a plethora of guests, including the aforementioned Kevin Max, Whitesnake guitarist Doug Aldrich,Tony Harnell (TNT), Kenny Arnoff (drummer, Chickenfoot), Stryper members Timothy Gaines and Robert Sweet, and even WWE superstar (and front-man of Fozzy), Chris Jericho!

The soaring vocals and impossible screams are still there, and so are the fiery guitar solos, the melodic sense, and heavy sound that made Stryper famous ...nothing that made us love Stryper is missing, and some new colors are added to an already sweet palette.

-Bert Saraco


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