|Review: Stryper - No More Hell to Pay|
|No More Hell to Pay|
Label: Frontiers Records
Year released: 2013
Genre: Heavy Metal
Review online: March 8, 2014
Reviewed by: MetalMike
for:No More Hell to Pay
Rated 3.82/5 (76.36%) (11 Votes)
Ah, Stryper, the band that people who weren't even alive in the 80s, when the Yellow and Black were at their peak, dislike and deride. Well, folks, Stryper are back and this isn't your Hard Rock, MTV, "Calling On You" version. When this band first started, they released some quite good US Traditional/Power Metal on records like The Yellow and Black Attack and Soldiers Under Command. Once they started gaining speed and realized a more commercial sound would allow them to spread their message to a wider audience, to say nothing of the controversial nature of said message, they over-exposed in a hurry and the wheels came right off the wagon.
Since reforming in 2003, Stryper has released four albums, including one of covers, to massive critical indifference. No More Hell to Pay, the fifth since the reunion, finds them finally reaching back to the Traditional/Power Metal that launched them back in 84. Musically, this new album bears noticeable similarities to 80s US Metal bands like Dokken, Lizzy Borden and W.A.S.P. It is darker, faster and crunchier than any of the MTV-era crap. There are actual riffs and solos and Michael Sweet can still flat out sing. He's lost none of the high range he belted out 30 years ago. Songs like "Revelation" and "No More Hell to Pay" are mid-paced with thick, aggressive riffs while "Saved By Love" and "Te Amo" flash some faster playing and nice fret work. "Sticks and Stones" has a fantastically catchy chorus with excellent harmony vocals. Of course, Stryper are still a Christian band as the cover of The Doobie Brothers' "Jesus Is Just Alright" underscores with indelible ink. Songs like the nauseating ballad "The One" and the New Testament-themed "Water Into Wine," which has a nice, dirty guitar sound, are also over the top lyrically, but the rest of the album is more "positive" than anything else.
Let's face facts; if you don't like Christian Heavy Metal or US Heavy Metal in general, you aren't going to like No More Hell to Pay. Hell, you probably haven't even read this far. But if you can get past the lyrics (or they don't bother you), you are going to find some classy Heavy Metal, reminiscent of a time when the US produced more than just mallcore shit. No More Hell to Pay isn't all great, and some songs don't work, but Stryper have recaptured at least some of the sounds of their early successes, a feat rarely accomplished in these days of reunions.
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