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Stryper: God Damn Evil
Stryper - God Damn Evil Music Review

Stryper: God Damn Evil

Melodic Hard Rock/Metal
4.5/5.0

As I write this review, the ubiquitous box store chain Walmart is refusing to sell Stryper's latest and tenth studio album. Why? They don't like the title, God Damn Evil. Too problematic for the squeaky clean all American retail chain. (That was sarcasm by the way.) Vocalist Michael Sweet, in response, said, "We're disappointed." Duh, that's the definition of under statement. I say, "Stupid Walmart." Additionally, and adding insult to injury, several Christian retail chains have also refused to sell the album. Come on, show some back bone. Bunch of white-washed sepulchers.

If anything God Damn Evil shows that Stryper still has their edge, and isn't afraid to be controversial. Speaking of which, if you haven't heard, last Fall, Stryper kicked bassist Tim Gaines out of the band. Firehouse bass player Perry Richardson now fills the spot. But on to the tunes.

Stryper Sin Band Photo

Stryper

Since their second coming some 15 years ago, Stryper has largely disavowed the saccharin sweet, power pop, glam rock of yesteryear for a more hard and heavy sound. Yet they do this without casting aside their love of melody, harmony, groove, and the all important memorable refrain. Such is the case with God Damn Evil. The blurred line between hard rock and heavy metal is quickly notable in the deep bottom end of the rhythm section. The bass and drums come on strong, loud and clear.

This is self-evident with songs such as Take It To The Cross, Sorry, God Damn Evil, and the thumping Own Up. Also, perhaps for some additional controversy, Stryper adds some slight death/dirty vocals to Take It To The Cross from Matt Bachand (Shadows Fall, Act Of Defiance). That's just flirting with the current musical marketing whore of babylon: modern metal. But moving on. The heaviness gets a deeper, almost plodding, vibe with You Don't Even Know and The Valley. In both Oz Fox lays down some tough riffs to thicken the heaviness. Honestly, these two songs were easily my least favorite of the bunch.


Alternatively, Sea Of Thieves, while still heavy, turns more upon AOR accessibility with a melodic rock groove and tuned vocal arrangement. A more assertive song comes with the frisky fast rocker, The Devil Doesn't Live Here, where Robert Sweet flexes his muscular drum skills. His big drums lead Beautiful, something of hard rock anthem with a sweet groove and fine vocal harmony throughout. A signature Stryper power ballad arrives with the slow grooving Can't Live Without Your Love.

Additionally, and throughout the album, Fox (and Sweet? Never quite sure who is doing the guitar solos) lays down some ripping and roaring solos. As the vocalist, Michael Sweet sounds, well, like himself: composed, strong, and melodic. I'd recognize his voice most anytime. Finally, the Christian Gospel message and the mention of Jesus Christ is still prominent. And yes, I'm a believer.

While God Damn Evil isn't the Stryper I remember playing the Tower Theater in their yellow and black party suits, this also isn't 1985 anymore. No, God Damn Evil finds an older and more mature, yet intensely viable, Stryper delivering heavier melodic hard rock. They do so without messing with their signature musical traits of melody, harmony, groove, and simple AOR accessibility. Excepting a few songs, I liked the album. Get it. Recommended.



CraigHartranft.net - New fiction, crime fiction by Craig Hartranft

The Bottom Line

God Damn Evil finds an older, more mature, yet immensely viable, Stryper delivering heavier melodic hard rock. They do so without messing with their signature musical traits of melody, harmony, groove, and simple AOR accessibility. Excepting a few songs, I liked the album. Get it. Recommended.

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