Stryper - Murder by pride 3.5/5

Reviewed: 8-21-09


1. Eclipse of the son
2. 4 leaf clover
3. Peace of mind
4. Alive
5. The plan
6. Murder by pride
7. I believe
8. Run in you
9. Love is why
10. Mercy over blame
11. Everything
12. My love

I am fairly confident that any reader to this site has heard the name Stryper. You may be wondering if they're in the site's range enough to be reviewed here. I would answer with a very confident "Yes!" All of the success of Christian metal in the 80s and even today, owes its appreciation to the bumble bee attitudes of those who went from wrong to right.

The formidable Stryper were the first Christian metal act ambitious enough to really step up, and stand for what they believed in; despite the derision from both fundamental Christians, and the anti-poseur brigade. Sure, artists like Petra and Rez Band paved the way, but Stryper were the true reason for the season.

After the band chose their name, which they took from a passage in the Old Testament and the Book of the prophet Isaiah. They later adapted the anacronym: - "Salvation through redemption yielding peace, encouragement and righteousness". The passage in Isaiah 53:5 reads thus: "By his stripes we are healed." They empowered this prophetic message to allude to the coming parousia and passion of their Messiah. This biblical verse is clearly on the cover of their 'Yellow and black attack' (EP).

Stryper established the very cornerstone, and thus set the precedent for other upcoming acts like Barren Cross, Bloodgood, Saint, Whitecross, etc. All these bands strove to emulate their influences, and willingly bring their message to the streets, and all those lost and wasted youth of the ages. Even though they are well known for tossing bibles out to their fans during the show, I've personally met everyone but Tim, and I assert that they really are gentlemen, not prostelyzing, but genuinely concerned with the welfare of mankind. I will always support Stryper, even if I'm not a Christian. Their most popular song "Free" sums up their overall sincerity and integrity.

Styper celebrated a very successful career, then disbanded, with each member pursuing interests in other spiritual related work. They reunited in 1999, and released the CD 'Reborn' in 2005, with new bassist Tracy Ferrie, who had played in the highly under appreciated Seraiah, whose CD 'Carnival world' may have had a very anti-homosexual song "The nature of things"; but nevertheless, the music rocked and ruled. Their last effort 'Reborn' was far too modern, although honest and forthright in its intent. Overall, it did not impress me. 'Murder by pride' is no 'Soldiers under command' or 'To hell with the devil', but it is a good solid CD, of mettle and might.

Only 2 original members wrote and performed on this CD. This marks the first time the 2 brothers, Michael and Robert Sweet, did not collaborate. Hard rockin' drummer Kenny Aronoff filled in, for Robert. Grizzled guitarist Oz Fox and Michael wrote the crux of the posh music.

Sadly, a great tragedy occurred in the spring of this year when Michael's wife Kyle died of ovarian cancer on March 5th. This thereby makes the music and message of 'Murder by pride' more majestic and compassionate. Since Michael Sweet has also taken over as the new lead vocalist for Boston, the cover of "Peace of mind" is most befitting, and even features Tom Scholz on guitar. Michael has also celebrated a very successful solo career, over these many years.

Michael Sweet is an amazing vocalist, and he sings with such heartfelt emotion. A song like "Everything" is a admirable tribute to his talent, in honor of his sweet wife, of whom he was always happily married. It also serves as a true, faithful, anthem to the life he has dedicated to service through his art. His fealty and fidelity to the cause is admirable, and deserving of true respect.

The CD begins with the very punchy, punk driven "Eclipse of the son", clearly emphasizing loyalty to their saviour, who has guided them all throughout their musical career; without necessarily mentioning the name of Jesus. "4 leaf clover" continues the faithful contrast, and the classic Stryper riff arrangements. Most songs range from 3-4 minutes, and echo with a very simplistic, yet altruistic verve.

"Alive" is a simple ballad, and commonplace with the songs culled from 'In god we trust'. Many of the songs like "I believe" or "The plan" have that popular and simple style, similar to the attitude of their controversial CD 'Against the law'. This was still a great release, without all the over the top, pop and circumstance, which Stryper had eventually buried themselves in by trying to be glitz, glam and salvific.

The best song, by far, is the title track "Murder by pride". This is an honest, sincere and classic piece of mindful expression. It is humble, yet so authentic, as one examines and discerns the daze of the weak. "Love is why" is another passionate anthem, and the next evolution of their song "Honestly". "Mercy over blame" emulates the "More than a man" motif, but not as fast or intense. In fact, one can definitely notice Michael's work with Boston, as this song has a real 70s vibe, similar to Aerosmith, Styx, and Zeppelin. "My love" is a refashioning of the song by the pre-Stryper band Roxx Regime, who at one time featured glam gods - Poison's own C.C. DeVille.

The reunited Stryper will tour this fall in full 80s regalia. This Yellow & Black Tour will include all original members, including Tim Gaines, the brother of Steve Gaines from Abattoir and Anger as Art. They will play songs from this new CD and 'Reborn', then return to perform an all hits, fan generated set-list.

This is one of my most anticipated autumn concert experiences. Stryper will always be shining stars, an authentic band, who play that loud 'n clear rock that makes my head roll!




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