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Sweet & Lynch – Only to Rise [Review]

61lIvlJe4+LSweet & Lynch – Only to Rise
2015, Frontiers Records
Buy the album

1. The Wish
2. Dying Rose
3. Love Stays
4. Time Will Tell
5. Rescue Me
6. Me Without You
7. Recover
8. Divine
9. September
10. Strength in Numbers
11. Hero-Zero
12. Only to Rise

Band:
Michael Sweet – Vocals, Guitar
George Lynch – Guitar
James LoMenzo – Bass
Brian Tichy – Drums

Producer: Michael Sweet

Sweet & Lynch is supergroup in a long line of supergroups put together at the request of the Italy-based melodic rock label Frontiers Records. The difference this time is that I can actually pronounce the names and know who all of these guys are! Also, in contract to many of Frontier’s other all-star projects, Michael Sweet offered to take over as producer and he and George Lynch co-wrote all of the songs. Generally, for these label projects the album would use outside songwriters and producers.

Looking at the band roster I have to say that Sweet & Lynch is as strong of a rock supergroup as there has been in awhile. While Stryper’s Michael Sweet and Dokken/Lynch Mob’s George Lynch are obviously the focal point, the names of bassist James LoMenzo (White Lion / Megadeth / Black Label Society) and journeyman drummer Brian Tichy (Whitesnake) should be recognizable to more than a few hard rock fans.

As for the music, Sweet Lynch stays within the realm of what made them popular. I wouldn’t put this album on the level of the last few Stryper & Sweet solo albums, but fans of Stryper, Dokken and/or Lynch Mob, should find no trouble enjoying this melodic hard rockin’ album.

Highlights: “Love Stays”, “Time Will Tell”, “Me Without You”, “Recover”, “Only to Rise”

Michael Sweet – I’m Not Your Suicide [Review]

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Michael Sweet – I’m Not Your Suicide
2014, Big3 Records
Buy the album

1. Taking On the World Tonight
2. All That’s Left (For Me To Prove)
3. The Cause
4. This Time
5. I’m Not Your Suicide
6. Coming Home
7. Miles Away
8. Strong
9. How To Live
10. Heart of Gold
11. Anybody Else
12. Unsuspecting
13. Heart of Gold (Duet with Electra Mustaine)

Musicians:
Michael Sweet – lead vocals, lead guitar
Kenny Aronoff – drums
John O’Boyle – Bass
Paul McNamara – Piano, B3, Moog, Keyboards
Pete Adams – Steel guitar

Guest Musicians:
Tony Harnell – Vocals (“Taking on the World Tonight”)
Kevin Max – Vocals (“This Time”)
Electra Mustaine – Vocals (“Heart of Gold”)
Chris Jericho – Vocals (“Anybody Else”)
Doug Aldrich – Guitar (“Anybody Else”)
Robert Sweet – Backing Vocals (“How to Live”)
Tim Gaines – Backing Vocals (“How to Live”)

I don’t know how Michael Sweet gets any rest. Stryper is constantly releasing albums (not that I’m complaining), he has a side-project with George Lynch and he continues to also pursue a solo career as evidenced by the release of I’m Not Your Suicide. Sweet’s powerful vocals are pretty recognizable so it’s hard to hear his voice and not think this is Stryper. The truth is that many of these songs could’ve ended up on a Stryper album. Sure, there’s nothing here that’s anywhere near as heavy as No More Hell to Pay but a good number of these tracks would fit in with Stryper’s typical style melodic rock. Michael even branches out a bit with a song like “Coming Home”, which sounds like an obvious play for the country stations. The result? Eh. The least liked song on the album for me. One of my favorite tracks is “This Time”, which I can’t help but getting a feeling of Electric Light Orchestra from.

There’s a number of interesting appearances on this album such as TNT’s Tony Harnell, Fozzy vocalist/WWE wrestler Chris Jericho, ex-Whitesnake guitarist Doug Aldrich and Electra Mustaine, Dave Mustaine’s daughter (How’d that come about about?).

The first half of the album is very strong. I found a lot of the second half didn’t strike the same chord with me that the first half did but overall this is a very good melodic rock/pop album that really wouldn’t sound too out of place as a part of the Stryper discography. Michael Sweet continues to show that he is one of the most gifted songwriters and vocalists in the world of rock today.

Highlights: “Taking On the World Tonight”, “All That’s Left (For Me to Prove)”, “The Cause”, “This Time”, “I’m Not Your Suicide”, “Miles Away”

Stryper – No More Hell to Pay [Review]

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Stryper – No More Hell to Pay
2013, Frontiers Records

Buy the album at Amazon.com

1. Revelation
2. No More Hell to Pay
3. Saved by Love
4. Jesus Is Just Alright
5. The One
6. Legacy
7. Marching into Battle
8. Te Amo
9. Sticks & Stones
10. Water into Wine
11. Sympathy
12. Renewed

Band:
Michael Sweet – Lead Vocals, Guitar
Oz Fox – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Tim Gaines – Bass, Backing Vocals
Robert Sweet – Drums

Producer: Michael Sweet

Stryper has done very well for themselves since releasing their comeback album, Reborn, in 2005. They’re one of the few “hair” bands that has remained relevant by successfully tweaking and modernizing their sound instead of trying to write songs that remind you of their 1980s albums. With this release though, it seems like they’ve taken quite a bit of inspiration from classic metal and decided to leave the lightweight sappy stuff at home.

After releasing an albums of covers and then an album re-recording their own songs, I was beginning to wonder if an album of all new original material would surface. Arguably, No More Hell to Pay is their heaviest, darkest and hardest album to date. Recently songs like “God” (from The Covering), “Blackened” and “Bleeding From the Inside Out” (both from Second Coming) were great indicators of exactly where Stryper was going with this release and the band has not disappointed me!

“Revelation”, “No More Hell to Pay”, “Legacy” and “Saved By Love” are absolute molten epic metal tracks. “Revelation” is my favorite song of the bunch with “The One” coming in second. “The One” is the album’s lone ballad, but I’m not sure if you could even call it that because it’s still pretty heavy for a ballad! Even the band’s cover of “Jesus Is Just Alright” features a very metal guitar solo!

Another highlight of the album of Michael Sweet’s vocals. He’s never really gotten the credit he deserves. He sounds phenomenal and is one of the better vocalists to come out of the glam metal era. What a great job he does on the rifftastic “Saved By Love”.

It’s great to see this band continue to evolve. No More Hell to Pay seems to be one-part Murder By Pride and one-part classic heavy metal. Even if you’re not a Jesus freak, there’s plenty to enjoy here if all you want is to do is bang your head.

Highlights: “Revelation”, “No More Hell to Pay”, “Saved By Love”, “The One”, “Legacy”, “Te Amo”, “Sticks and Stones”, “Renewed”

www.stryper.com
www.facebook.com/stryper

STRYPER – Murder By Pride

Stryper – Murder By Pride (2009, Big3 Records)

1. “Eclipse For The Son” … 4:04
2. “4 Leaf Clover” … 3:42
3. “Peace of Mind” … 3:58
4. “Alive” … 3:36
5. “The Plan” … 3:10
6. “Murder by Pride” … 3:18
7. “I Believe” … 3:43
8. “Run In You” … 4:15
9. “Love Is Why”  … 4:07
10. “Mercy Over Blame” … 4:07
11. “Everything” … 4:26
12. “My Live (I’ll Always Show)” … 3:14

Band:
Michael Sweet – Lead Vocals, Guitar
Oz Fox – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Tracy Ferrie – Bass, Backing Vocals
Robert Sweet – Drums

Additional Musicians:
Tom Scholz – Guitar (“Peace of Mind”)
Kenny Aronoff – Drums
Paul McNamara – Piano, Keyboards
Danny Bernini – Percussion

Produced by: Michael Sweet and Danny Bernini

Murder By Pride is my very first Stryper album. I don’t know how it compares to the “classics”, but I’m enjoying it. There are a few spots where it borders on getting very cheesy (“Alive”, “I Believe”), but the songs are good enough to be guilty pleasures for me. The guitars on “I Believe” sound very much like Creed, but I still enjoy the song.

“4 Leaf Clover” and “Murder By Pride” are my favorite tracks and they do a great job of blending 80s hard rock with a modern sound. The rest of the album is full solid hard rockers, which is more than I was expecting. I had it in my head that the chance of some lame pop rock/”Honestly” songs were going to be pretty high, but it just wasn’t the case.

Like I said, I don’t know if this holds a candle to old school Stryper, but it’s got me interested in taking a listen to find out.

The band does a faithful cover of Boston’s “Peace of Mind”. It had better be faithful since Tom Scholz plays on it! Of course, Michael handles co-vocals & guitar for that band following the passing of Brad Delp.

I could not find any info on why, but for whatever reason, founding member and drummer Robert Sweet (Michael’s brother) did not play on this album and a session player filled in. At least that’s what I’ve read online (even though the album credits list both Sweet and Aronoff on drums). He is scheduled to tour with the band though.

Highlights: “Eclipse For The Son”, “4 Leaf Clover”, “Alive”, “The Plan”, “Murder By Pride”, “Mercy Over Blame”, “I Believe”, “My Love (I’ll Always Show)”

www.stryper.com
www.myspace.com/stryper

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