Wednesday, February 2, 2011

STRYPER - THE COVERING


A new Stryper album is due out any minute. The Covering, the title of this latest offering of metallic hard rock is an assemblage of songs that were amongst the most important in the musical development of Mike, Robert, Oz and Tim. According to Mike this is the first album they’ve recorded with Tim since 1990’s Against the Law.

The songs are like a who’s who of classic hard rock and heavy metal acts of the 1970’s and early 1980’s. It would seem that this is an album that Stryper can really let their hair down and just flat out ROCK! Not having to write the material but just arrange and perform it, this album breathes with energy and vitality. The guys sound like they’re having a great time playing these songs.

Opening with a version of Sweet’s Set Me Free this horse is off to the races. The pedal is put to the floor and the nitro is kicked in; how can you listen to this song and not start the proverbial air guitar action???? UFO’s Lights Out is a tour de force of solid driving rock n roll, the influence on More Than a Man is not just passing. The guitar solos rip it up one side and down the other.

I’ve always enjoyed Deep Purple’s Highway Star, but this version is a tisch faster and Mike cuts loose like no one’s business. Why he hasn’t received more attention for his vocal ability in the metal community is a crying shame. Robert’s drumming propels this version and does Ian Paice proud. Kiss’s Shout It Out Loud locks a groove and the guitars take over. Tim delivers some choice bass work holding it under locked.

Black Sabbath’s Heaven and Hell, Ozzy’s Over the Mountain, Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song, Scorpions Blackout, Kansas’s Carry on Wayward Son, all shine with some great performances. Their version of Iron Maiden’s The Trooper was creative with the middle section solo, one of the few times they really expanded the original compositions and made it their own. Perhaps making a harmony out of Sabbath’s Heaven and Hell solo section would have been fitting, yet Oz’s solo is stellar regardless.

A few moments found me wanting particularly with a slower sounding version of Judas Priests Breaking the Law. At times I felt that the version of Blackout suffered a little from the tempo. Yet in contrast their version of Van Halen’s On Fire (perhaps my favorite song from their 1978 debut) ranks on par with the original. Passion, drive and power define this version, can I just keep hitting the replay button!

The overall sound of the album reminds me of a beefier and cleaner Soldiers Under Command. Great sounding tones are achieved and are given their opportunity to breathe and develop. No tight sounding compression that squashes the dynamics and leaves everything flattened. It sounds fantastic.

There is one new track. Entitled God, it does feature a heavy and haunting melody line. A powerful chorus which will prove to be a show stopper from Mike. The solo section is strong with a fantastic guitar harmony courtesy of Oz and Mike. If this is a preview of their next full length album of original material watch out.

Some may want to wallow in unfounded criticism of the ‘apparent lack of spiritual content.’ May I just say how ridiculous that is, the amount of festivals, celebrations and feasts given in Scripture are many. This album is about THE PARTY! THE CELEBRATION! And having some fun.

The Covering is an exceptional release of material that influenced Stryper before they were Stryper. If it wasn’t for this stuff there might not be a Stryper. Solid performances and production throughout, The Covering should be a solid addition to any Stryper fan’s collection. I wasn’t sure at first how I’d respond to this, but after five spins its double thumbs up from here.

8 axes

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11 comments:

Scott Smith said...

Great article and I fully agree. They show, like always, they are as talented as many of the other metal and rock bands. Great job Stryper and cool article.

Mike Sternall said...

Well sad to say this is a bummer that the most successful Christian rock band of all times can't do better then to cover a bunch of non christian songs.Also to say this is the first Cd they have recorded with Tim isn't accurate he hasn't recorder a Cd with them pretty much at all Micheal hires bass players to record the Cds.# John Van Tongeren - Bass, keyboards, piano (Soldiers Under Command, To Hell with the Devil, In God We Trust)# Brad Cobb - Bass (To Hell with the Devil (album): In God We Trust (album)
# Randy Jackson - Bass (Against the Law. Sad to say has a long time fan. that the best days of Stryper are behind them. Unless Micheal can put his ego aside and realize they are an awesome band not the Micheal Sweet show. I mean last two studio efforts are Micheal's voice over powers every thing.Hire a producer and Bass players.

Mike Sternall said...

Hire a producer next time and let Tim actually be in the band.Not just be the road bass player....

Anthony said...

Actually, Tim played on every song on Against the Law with the exception of 'Shining Star'. He also played on the two new tracks on 'Seven: The Best of Stryper'.

I can understand concerns people have about them putting out an album of secular material, but I think the reasoning has been well explained. Personally, I don't think there's anything wrong with it. They've made it more than clear where they are spiritually speaking.

I had similar feelings as Mike about them becoming the Michael Sweet band, but I've since changed my mind. This new song 'God' sounds like Stryper in every way.....and it sounds like a band effort! Check it out on Youtube(and I would recommend turning the volume up).

Anonymous said...

Great album. Great change of pace from Stryper. They have sung Christian music for 27 years and big deal if they want to do something different. It doesn't make them sinners all the sudden.

Keith said...

I pre-ordered this album, got it in the mail last week, and have very much enjoyed cranking the volume.

Ignore the riff-raff of folks who think the band has taken a step down from their faith by doin covers. These guys don't have to prove to anyone how spiritual they are, the rest of their songs tell their story. This album helps tell that story too. How they were influenced in the first place to create the awesome music that we love.

I personally thought a good handful of songs on this album were way better than the originals. The solos on this cd are wicked awesome, and the fact that his voice can still hit those high screams so perfectly after so many years is amazing. I absolutely loved the new, yet definitely-stryper sound of "murder by pride." And if this covering is a preview of an album to come, I absolutely can't wait!

Thanks for making such inspiring music guys, God bless and we'll see ya on tour!

The Trakka from Downunder said...

I can't understand some of you people! How LONG do these guys have to be around, playing the best music, in the best genre with the best message in the business....and STILL people question there heart and sincerity? Isn't a quarter of a century enough? What do they have to do to PROVE themselves? And a band doesn't have to be Christian to write a good song. And it's not our job to judge people anyway! Praise God for that!

Anonymous said...

I am very glad they are back.. Many people have come to Christ because of their music. I think if they want to play music that was from another band and re-arrange it.. Good for them. They have rocked and will Rock for GOD for eternity..Can't wait

Tony said...

I have no doubts about their faith and their relationships with Jesus. No doubts at all. And while covering non-Christian songs isn't the issue for me, my question is, what are the lyrics of the songs that they are singing? I don't care if these bands influenced them, does that mean it's ok to sing negative or worldly lyrics by them? I'm not saying that that is the case with these songs, as that is what I am asking, what are the lyrics to these songs that they covered? That is what matters. If the lyrics are foul and worldly, then maybe it's not a good thing that they covered that song? Is it ok for Christians to swear? Is it ok for Christians to say or sing whatever they want despite what God said about what comes out of our mouths? There are people who may have influenced me in the past, but I don't talk like a sailor like they might.

Stacy said...

I never liked metal until I heard Christian metal, so I didn't grow up listening to Ozzy, Judas Priest or KISS. What made Stryper different to me, especially with Soldiers Under Command, was how the songs weren't depressing and full of rage and hate. Until then, metal seemed evil to me in some way. Styper and other Christian metal bands helped change that for me. I wish Stryper would cover some Whitecross, Leviticus, Guardian, Barren Cross, etc. That would make me happy.

DarkFireDragoon said...

Excellent review!

One of the things I love so much about this album is how it tracks a lot of the history of heavy metal from a fan perspective; taking these classic songs that were--and still are--part of the soundtrack for many a person, and bringing new life to them. I really love what they have done here, and its great to hear some of the songs that influenced an equally influential band. Once again, great review, bro!