stryper fallenpick of the monthIt may not quite reach the heights of the previous release, but Fallen shows great ambition for a band this far into its career.

Label: Frontiers Records
Time:  12 tracks / 52 mins

Singer Michael Sweet reckons that this is the best album that Stryper have ever made, but don’t most bands say that about their latest releases?

Following up 2013’s No More Hell to Pay is a huge ask. That possible career-best had more energy than it is fair to expect from a band so far into their career.

This studio sequel might not have quite as much torque, but it is a full-on rock album with some of their most direct lyrics to date: titles like “Heaven,” “Yahweh” and “King of Kings” give a suitably God-centred  heart to the release and the title track – about Lucifer’s downfall – continues the disc’s emphasis on the big picture.

When Fallen begins, you could expect it to even trump its predecessor. Inspired by Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, “Yahweh” is probably the most ambitious track they have made so far, with tempo changes, a gothic choir singing the anthemic title (Sweet matching them for power) and an overall sense of majesty and purpose.

Stryper catch flavours of several bands on this release (as well as the variety that the slower and more melodic “Wouldn’t Change a Thing” brings as a contrast to the power shown around it). “Big Screen Lies” has a big dollop of glam and a bouncy riff that may owe a bit to Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out;” and the opening track’s guitar has a definite Sabbath crunch – which is particularly apposite, as they cover that band’s most blatantly pro-Christian track “After Forever,” taken from Master of Reality:

“When you think about death do you lose your breath or do you keep your cool?
Would you like to see the Pope on the end of a rope - do you think he's a fool?
Well I have seen the truth, yes I've seen the light and I've changed my ways
And I'll be prepared when you're lonely and scared at the end of our days.

Could it be you're afraid of what your friends might say
If they knew you believe in God above?
They should realize before they criticize
that God is the only way to love.”

The songs have a healthy mix of giving praise to God and dealing with our everyday lives, as in the songs “Pride” and “Big Screen Lies.”

There are some nice touches.  “Love You Like I Do” puts on the emergency brakes at the end; and Oz Fox’s powerful guitar solos, while quite short, still manage to be effective, not least because they go in unexpected directions.

So this is an on-form Stryper taking some dramatic new directions among the bread-and-butter classic metal tracks, all running on megawatts of energy. Good stuff.


Derek Walker

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