Blog Archives

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]

915zmcJAIhL._SL1500_

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”

Ronnie James Dio: This Is Your Life [Review]

81mbVD8bbtL._SL1425_

 Ronnie James Dio: This Is Your Life
2014, Rhino Records
Buy the album at Amazon.com

1. Neon Knights – Anthrax
2. The Last In Line – Tenacious D
3. The Mob Rules – Adrenaline Mob
4. Rainbow In The Dark – Corey Taylor, Roy Mayorga, Satchel, Christian Martucci, Jason Christopher
5. Straight Through The Heart – Halestorm
6. Starstruck – Motörhead with Biff Byford
7. The Temple Of The King – Scorpions
8. Egypt (The Chains Are On) – Doro
9. Holy Diver – Killswitch Engage
10. Catch The Rainbow – Glenn Hughes, Simon Wright, Craig Goldy, Rudy Sarzo, Scott Warren
11. I – Oni Logan, Jimmy Bain, Rowan Robertson, Brian Tichy
12. Man On The Silver Mountain – Rob Halford, Vinny Appice, Doug Aldrich, Jeff Pilson, Scott Warren
13. Ronnie Rising Medley (A Light In The Black / Tarot Woman / Stargazer / Kill The King) – Metallica
14. This Is Your Life – Dio
Bonus Track:
15. Buried Alive – Jasta

Well, there certainly hasn’t been an absence of Dio-related releases since Ronnie’s passing. In the 4 years that Ronnie has been gone there have been two compilations, two live releases (a third is due shortly) and at least three tribute albums by my count. Ronnie James Dio: This Is Your Life is the third tribute album that I am aware of. The first two tributes were Jorn’s Dio (which Wendy Dio gave her blessing for) and Joey DeMaio’s Magic (which Wendy did not approve of), though I’m sure there’s probably more out there.

As far as star power and  talent goes, you won’t find a better Dio tribute: Anthrax, Halestorm, Metallica, Scorpions, Rob Halford, Motorhead, Biff Byford, Vinny Appice, Doro, Doug Aldrich… the list goes on and on.

Most these songs are played fairly straight and faithfully but it’s still interesting to hear Dio covered by other well-known artists and the songs cover his years in Rainbow, Black Sabbath and the Dio band. The majority of these tracks range from good to excellent. Even Tenacious D (who I normally can’t stand) do a decent job.

There are a few tracks I do have an issue with though. For one, Killswitch Engage’s “Holy Diver”. I don’t like metalcore and never needed to hear a metalcore version complete with unnecessary pinch harmonics that would make Zakk Wylde proud. I give them credit for trying to make the song their own, but it doesn’t make it a good cover.

Then there’s the cover of Black Sabbath’s “I”. There’s a good line-up of musicians on the track and Oni Logan is a good singer but he lacks the power to really put that song over the top like Dio did. He doesn’t sound bad, but I don’t think he’s the right fit for a song like this, if that makes any sense.

Then there’s “Man on the Silver Mountain”. Again, great musicians here. It’s Rob Halford backed by a collection of former Dio band members. Doug Aldrich’s presence is felt throughout the song and while he was in Dio before he joined Whitesnake, the song is given a slight makeover and comes across like a modern Whitesnake song. Halford sounds fine, but again, he doesn’t have the proper voice to be covering songs sung by Ronnie James Dio. Or songs sung by Ronnie James Dio that have been given a Whitesnake makeover. I’m liking this take on the song musically, I just think Halford’s vocals are out of place.

Glenn Hughes turns in a fantastic soulful performance on “Catch the Rainbow”. He is also backed by a collection of former Dio players. Motorhead & Biff Byford do a great job on “Starstruck” and I initially thought that was the Glenn Hughes track when I first heard it. “The Temple of the King” by Scorpions is wonderful as well. It’s a faithful cover of the original but it’s very cool to hear Klaus Meine on vocals.

The track that is garnering the most attention, obviously, is the Metallica track. I’m glad they are on this project because there’s no doubt they have brought eyes to this album that might not have given it a look otherwise. They do a good job covering four of Rainbow’s best songs.

The physical CD closes the album with the ballad “This Is Your Life” which is pulled from Dio’s 1996 album Angry Machines. The song is given extra weight considering the circumstances. Jasta’s “Buried Alive” is a digital album exclusive bonus track and is actually pretty good. Once again, Japan gets more material than North America because Stryper’s cover of “Heaven and Hell” and the Dio Disciples’ take on “Stand Up and Shout” appear on pressings over there. Seriously, what’s up with Japan always getting bonus tracks that never see the light of the day in the United States? I’ve never heard anyone actually address why that happens so often!

A few minor quibbles, but this isn’t a better Dio tribute album out and there probably never will be. Must have for Dio fans!

Highlights: “Rainbow In the Dark”, “Straight Through the Heart”, “Starstruck”, “The Temple of the King”, “Egypt (The Chains Are On)”, “Catch the Rainbow”, “Ronnie Rising Medley”, “This Is Your Life”

Metal Excess Awards 2013

2013 was an interesting year for rock/metal. Some bands delivered more than I expected them to (Stryper, Bon Jovi, Mike Tramp), a few disappointed me (Megadeth, Avenged Sevenfold, De La Cruz) and some confirmed my suspicions that they shouldn’t have released an album at all (Black Sabbath… okay, it was good but it seemed derivative of their past works).

Overall, it was a bit of a slow year for me as I focused a lot on listening to old favorites rather than having an interest in checking out and reviewing some of the latest releases.

Best Albums of 2013
1. Buckcherry – Confessions
2. Stryper – No More Hell to Pay
3. Bon Jovi – What About Now
4. Tom Keifer – The Way Life Goes
5. The Poodles – Tour de Force
6. Avantasia – The Mystery of Time
7. Reckless Love – Spirit
8. Megadeth – Super Collider
9. Jorn – Traveller
10. Mike Tramp – Cobblestone Street

Best Live Albums
1. Whitesnake – Made In Britain / The World Record
2. Dio – Finding the Sacred Heart: Live in Philly 1986
3. Def Leppard – Viva! Hysteria
4. Whitesnake – Made In Japan
5. Great White – 30 Years: Live from the Sunset Strip

Best EPs
1. Stone Temple Pilots with Chester Bennington – High Rise
2. The 69 Eyes – Love Runs Away
3. Skid Row – United World Rebellion: Chapter One

Best Compilation/Cover Albums
1. Stryper – Second Coming
2. Kelly Clarkson – Wrapped in Red
3. Buckcherry – The Best of Buckcherry
4. Trans-Siberian Orchestra – Upon the Winter Solstice
5. Jorn – Symphonic

Most Anticipated New Releases for 2014
Alice Cooper
Judas Priest
Motley Crue
Sebastian Bach
Whitesnake

Stryper – No More Hell to Pay [Review]

STRYPER nmhtp COVER

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 – Second Coming [Review]

Stryper – Second Coming
2013, Frontiers Records

1. “Loud ‘N Clear”
2. “Loving You”
3. “Soldiers Under Command”
4. “Makes Me Wanna Sing”
5. “First Love”
6. “The Rock That Makes Me Roll”
7. “Reach Out”
8. “Surrender”
9. “To Hell with the Devil”
10. “Calling on You”
11. “Free”
12. “The Way”
13. “Sing Along Song”
14. “More Than a Man”
15. “Bleeding from Inside Out”
16. “Blackened”

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

Religion aside, Stryper is one of the few successful bands that I never got into when I was discovering the wonderful world of hair bands and glam metal. Despite owning a few one or two albums from their original run, it’s actually their later albums that pulled me in and converted me (no pun intended) to a fan. Despite the fact that Second Coming is the band re-recording their own material from their peak years, it has further solidified Stryper’s status with me as one of the best and most relevant hair bands in modern times.

I won’t even pretend to know how some of these songs compare to their original versions but it’s safe to say the production is greatly improved and these songs just sound so HEAVY now. Classic metal songs with a modern twist. These oldies are definitely beefed up to match the power and sound the band has been displaying on their recent albums.

When the band released The Covering (an album of covers… what else?) they included one new track called “God”. It’s one of my favorite songs from the last few years so I was definitely looking forward to the two NEW tracks that were included on this album. Both continue on in the fine tradition of modern Stryper. Another major standout for me is “To Hell With the Devil”. It finally sounds exactly like it always deserved to (okay, that is the Stryper song I’ve always loved)!

Die-hards are probably all over this already but casual Stryper fans should give it a shot to hear some of the band’s classic material with updated production and to check out the new tunes.

Highlights: “Loud ‘N Clear”, “Soldiers Under Command”, “Makes Me Wanna Sing”, “Surrender”, “To Hell With the Devil”, “Bleeding from the Inside Out”, “Blackened”

http://www.stryper.com/
http://www.facebook.com/Stryper

Buy the album at Amazon.com

Looking Forward to in 2012…

2012 is shaping up to be another spectacular year for rock music. This is a year that is going to see releases from KISS, Judas Priest, Aerosmith, Van Halen and Black Sabbath. WHAT YEAR IS THIS ?!?

In no particular order, here’s what I’m definitely picking up in 2o12:

AcceptStalingrad (April)
Accept really blew me away with Blood of the Nations. The band has proven there is life without Udo. In fact, I think many people would prefer the current line-up over the classic Accept roster at this point.

Crazy Lixx – Riot Avenue (April)
These solid modern glam-metallers are currently in the studio working on their 3rd album.

KISS – Monster (Spring)
Obviously, this is the album I’m looking forward to most. Sonic Boom was a triumphant return to the studio for these guys, now that the wheels are well-oiled, I think Monster has potential to be even better.

SunstormEmotional Fire (February)
I missed out on the last Sunstorm despite good reviews. In the past year I’ve come to appreciate AOR/melodic rock more so I think I’m going to try out this Joe Lynn Turner-fronted side project when it’s released.

Crashdiet
No date yet set by these sleaze rockers but they are supposedly in the writing process now. I’m guessing sometime in the Fall.

Black Sabbath (Fall/Winter)
Another highly anticipated album for me because I’m really curious what it’s going to sound like. I’m not a big Ozzy fan, either as a solo artist or in Sabbath. I’d much rather see Iommi w/ Geezer go on to new projects (Iommi needs to give Tony Martin another call) but I still will be pre-ordering this one. My expectations aren’t all that high though given who is singing. I feel like he and Sharon are going to bring everyone else down to his mediocre level. Still, it’s exciting to know that new Iommi riffs and solos are coming.

Aerosmith (May)
So much prima donna drama in this camp over the last 5 years or so but hopefully that’s gone long enough to give us a new album. Granted,  I don’t really expect much from these guys in terms of, well… anything anymore. They’re kind of a joke at this point but with the legendary Jack Douglas back on as producer, I have no doubts that he’ll drag something out of them that’s better than the last studio album (2001’s Just Push Play).

Van Halen (February 7)
Geez, it was starting to look like the new Chinese Democracy, wasn’t it? No album title has been released yet but a release date has been and the first single will be released on January 10. Van Halen is another band that has become a joke over the years (despite the last tour getting rave reviews) but I have a good feeling about this album. The first album with Roth since 1984 and 1984! Rumored titles have been The Future and 2012 but I don’t think either will turn out to be true. Maybe IV though..?

Judas Priest
The band hasn’t definitely said a new album is coming in 2012 but they’ve been working on new material for a while now and seem to be looking at 2012 for releasing it. It’s a different songwriting dynamic now though. Instead of Halford/Downing/Tipton, it’s just Halford/Tipton. By all accounts, new guitarist Richie Faulkner is carrying his weight in a live setting so I think the album is going to turn out quite good. I do think it’s time the band delivers a straight ahead metal album though. Angel of Retribution and Nostradamus were good but not excellent. The band really hasn’t given the world that kick-ass classic metal album that they should’ve already done since Halford has come back. They really need a PainkillerHell Bent for Leather or British Steel at this point and keep it simple.

Primal Fear – Unbreakable (late January)
I have heard this album. It’s good. Plan on reviewing it soon.

Mollo/Martin – The Third Cage (late January)
See above. It’s great to have a new album out with Tony Martin on vocals.

Buckcherry
Maybe wishful thinking on my part but they were working on new material this past summer so hopefully something new will appear by next summer.

The Last Vegas The Other Side
No date announced yet but they recently released the free digital Other Side E.P. so I’d imagine we’ll have the new album by the spring.

Slash
His first solo album was one of the best records from the last few years and this time, Myles Kennedy is singing all the songs. Everything is written, all that’s left to do is record the songs so I’m guessing spring for this one as well.

Trans-Siberian OrchestraRomanov: What Kings Must Whisper
The second non-holiday from TSO, it was actually planned to be their first album way back in 1994 but they held on it while trying to get a Broadway musical out of it first. Night Castle was dark and cool while still keeping that trademark blend of metal, rock and classical music, I expect more of the same here.

Dokken
With a deal in place with Frontiers Records for the new album, I’m expecting something special despite never being a huge Dokken fan. Lightning Strikes Again was good enough for me to be interested in a follow-up. The plan, as of this past November, was to have recording completed by February.

Stryper
This album was actually delayed from this past year in favor of recording and releasing the excellent The Covering album of cover songs. According to Michael Sweet, two albums are in the works: the first will be an album of re-recordings (Why? Can we stop this trend, please?)  followed by an album of all-new material written in the same heavy, edgy vein as “God” from The Covering.

M-Pire of Evil
M-Pire of Evil is the renamed Primevil which itself was the reunited late ’80s/early ’90s line-up of Venom that featured Tony “Demolition Man” Dolan on vocals/bass . I’m not well-versed on the comings and goings of the Venom roster but the “classic” line-up is split into two different bands right now. Conrad “Cronos” Lant is leading Venom with a few newer guys while the other two “classic” members (Jeff “Mantas” Dunn & Anthony “Abaddon” Bray) have hooked up again with Dolan for M-Pire of Evil.

They released an EP this past summer called The Creatures of the Black, which was pretty good and I liked the Prime Evil album (the only Venom release I’ve heard from this line-up) so I’m looking forward to a full length album. I couldn’t find anything resembling a release date but going by the band’s Facebook page, it should be soon because they’ve been teasing releasing the album cover.

Tooth And Nail (March)
The band that features 3/4 of the classic Dokken line-up. How does “Wild” Mick Brown still retain a position in Dokken while joining Tooth And Nail? Given Don Dokken’s reputation, you’d think he’d have been fired from Dokken by now. I mean, this band was named after a Dokken album and they’ve gloated over the fact that Don Dokken isn’t in the group (bassist Jeff Pilson will handle vocals). What’s weird is that on the band’s Facebook page, they list current Whitesnake drummer Brian Tichy as a member as well… I guess he’s there for the live shows in case Brown has to go off and play in Dokken?

I’m probably forgetting a few more albums but oh well!

The Metal Excess Awards: 2011 Edition

Last year I said 2010 was a better year for music than 2009 was. I went on to wonder how 2011 could even begin to top it. Well, guess what… 2011 did indeed top 2010! I’m looking back at my Top 25 list for 2010 and while those albums are all still good, this year’s Top 25 list is much stronger top to bottom.

2011 was a great year that saw classic rock/metal acts like Whitesnake, Warrant, Riot, Alice Cooper, Journey, Black N’ Blue and King Kobra deliver some of the best albums of their career while younger acts like Steel Panther, Reckless Love, Savage Messiah, Evile (who missed the list by this much) and Black Veil Brides have shown that they are more than capable of carrying rock & metal into the future.

Top 25 Albums of 2011

1. Whitesnake – Forevermore
2. Sixx:A.M. – This Is Gonna Hurt
3. Riot – Immortal Soul
4. Warrant – Rockaholic
5. Alice Cooper – Welcome 2 My Nightmare
6. Steel Panther – Balls Out
7. Megadeth – Thirteen
8. Anthrax – Worship Music
9. Sebastian Bach – Kicking & Screaming
10. Reckless Love – Animal Attraction
11. Edguy – Age of the Joker
12. Hurtsmile – s/t
13. Journey – Eclipse
14. Chickenfoot – III
15. Mike Tramp & The Rock ‘N’ Roll Circuz – Stand Your Ground
16. Black Country Communion – 2
17. The Poodles – Performocracy
18. House of Lords – Big Money
19. King Kobra – s/t
20. Saliva – Under Your Skin
21. Foo Fighters – Wasting Light
22. Black N’ Blue – Hell Yeah!
22. Savage Messiah – Plague of Conscience
24. George Lynch – Kill All Control
25. Joe Bonamassa – Dust Bowl

Best E.P./Single
In light of a few non-album singles being released this year, I’ve decided to make this a hybrid category.

1. Sixx:A.M. – 7
2. Black Veil Brides – Rebels
3. Who Cares – Out of My Mind / Holy Water
4. Wildstreet – II …Faster …Louder!
5. The Last Vegas – The Other Side E.P.

Best Compilation/Cover/Live/Reissue Albums
Kind of a catch-all category this year. Instead of listing each category individually, I decided to lump them all into one list and rank them that way.

1. Black Sabbath – Born Again [Deluxe Edition]
2. Stryper – The Covering
3. Vains of Jenna – Reverse Tripped
4. Whitesnake – Live at Donington 1990
5. Slash featuring Myles Kennedy – Live: Made In Stoke 24/7/11
6. Hell – Human Remains
7. Scorpions – Comeblack
8. Def Leppard – Mirrorball: Live & More
9. Eric Carr – Unfinished Business
10. Black Sabbath – Dehumanizer [Deluxe Edition]

Want to read more about the year in music? Check out some of the fine sites & blogs listed below! And be sure to keep checking back for more Year-End posts here at Metal Excess!

All Metal Resource — http://allmetalresource.com/

Bring Back Glam — http://bringbackglam.squarespace.com/

The Crash Pad of Ray Van Horn, Jr. – http://www.rayvanhornjr2.blogspot.com/

Hair Metal Mansion — http://hairbangersradio.ning.com/

Hard Rock Hideout — http://hardrockhideout.com/

Hard Rock Nights — http://hardrocknights.com

Heavy Metal Addiction — http://heavymetaladdiction.com/

Heavy Metal Time Machine — http://metalmark.blogspot.com/

Imagine Echoes — http://www.imagineechoes.com/

Layla’s Classic Rock — http://laylasclassicrock.blogspot.com/

Metal Odyssey — http://metalodyssey.wordpress.com/

The Ripple Effect — http://www.ripplemusic.blogspot.com/

Stryper – The Covering

Stryper – The Covering (2011, Big3 Records)

1. “Set Me Free” … 3:45
2. “Blackout” … 3:58
3. “Heaven and Hell” … 6:11
4. “Lights Out” … 3:44
5. “Carry On Wayward Son” … 5:16
6. “Highway Star” … 5:45
7. “Shout It Out Loud” … 3:15
8. “Over the Mountain” … 4:21
9. “The Trooper” … 3:53
10. “Breaking the Law” … 3:02
11. “On Fire” … 3:08
12. “Immigrant Song”  … 2:18
13. “God” … 4:55

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

Additional Musicians:
Charles Foley – Keyboards, Organ, Piano

Producer: Michael Sweet

And Stryper continues their trend for having AWFUL album covers. =P

Luckily, the album art is not a good indicator of the music itself because this is seriously one great album of covers! When I first heard it was going to be a cover album, I kind of rolled my eyes. That’s usually a sign that a band is slowing down and/or giving up on new material but then they started releasing all these samples and they sounded amazing. I guess the band has caught some flack from their Christian fanbase for having the gall to cover secular music and evil bands such as Judas Priest, Black Sabbath and KISS but whatever. Get over yourselves! Christian acts don’t need to be singing about God & Jesus in every single song. Just because you want to cover Van Halen and Scorpions it doesn’t mean you’ve turned your back on the Lord.

Anyway, what a great line-up of bands to cover! In order, they are: Sweet, Scorpions, Black Sabbath, UFO, Kansas, Deep Purple, KISS, Ozzy Osbourne, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Van Halen and Led Zeppelin. The only original song of the bunch is “God” which is a fantastic hard rocker that just doesn’t let up and gives me hope that maybe the band will put out an entirely new and original album later this year.

It was Murder By Pride that pulled me onto the Stryper bandwagon. That was a very good album. Sometimes a veteran act seems to be going through the motions even when they release new material but that wasn’t the case then and even though the band is covering songs here, they still sound energetic and on fire. “God” gives me hope that maybe the band will put out an entirely new and original album later this year because they are on a roll.

The band stays pretty faithful to the source material only making slight alterations here and there but these are some killer covers. “Blackout” and “Lights Out” are pure fire and it’s interesting to hear Michael Sweet vocals on these songs. I think he’s got a unique singing style and it’s interesting hearing him find some middle ground between his own style and the styles in which these songs were originally sung.

One of the better cover albums I’ve heard. Essential pickup for 2011.

Highlights: “Set Me Free”, “Blackout”, “Lights Out”, “Shout It Out Loud”, “On Fire”, “God”

http://www.stryper.com/
http://www.facebook.com/Stryper

Buy ‘The Covering’ at Amazon.com

Looking Forward to in 2011…

2011 has a quite a challenge in front of it. 2010 was filled with TONS of great albums. If 2011 can pull off even half of what last year did, it’ll still be a great year. This isn’t some complete list, there may be more projects in the works that I’ve forgotten about or don’t know about yet… but that doesn’t mean I’m not looking forward to them! This is just a list of stuff off the top of my head…

Wildstreet – II …Faster …Louder EP (January 25th)
One of my favorite albums of 2009 was Wildstreet’s debut. I would love a full album but if an EP is all I can get, I’ll gladly take it. Will be available for download at iTunes & Amazon on January 25th with physical copies to be available for purchase shortly after. I’ll have a review up for it sometime next week.

Stryper – The Covering (February)
Originally scheduled for the end of 2010, it was pushed back supposedly in order to increase awareness for the album. Even though it’s an album of covers, they’ve picked some good songs and the samples sound great.

Whitesnake – Forevermore (March)
Sure to be another highlight of the year for me. Good to Be Bad is one of my favorite Whitesnake albums and Coverdale has basically said Forevermore will be more of the same because he thinks they found the right balance of all eras of Whitesnake with that record. I couldn’t agree more.

Sixx A.M. This Is Gonna Hurt (April)
I’m a huge Nikki Sixx fan. I’ve loved all the new Crue material since Red, White & Crue and the first Sixx A.M. album was pretty good. James Michael is also a fantastic vocalist and is a great songwriter/producer. This one should be a winner.

Alice CooperWelcome 2 My Nightmare (AKA – Welcome to My Nightmare II)
2010 looked to be a lock for new Alice. He was already in the middle of writing the album but then hooked up with Bob Ezrin again and they decided to do a Welcome to My Nightmare sequel. The album Alice had originally planned was called The Night Shift and here are his own words on that project, taken from the Toronto Sun newspaper back in April:

“Ten songs are written already. It’s going to be called The Night Shift. The concept is, it’s a really dark radio show where I’m the disc jockey, and every song I play will be by a different fictitious band. At some point, you’ll realize this disc jockey is a little bit more than that. And I’m sure there will be some kind of a twist ending.”

I’m not sure if The Night Shift and Welcome 2 My Nightmare (the rumored title) are two totally separate projects or if Alice & Bob have decided to absorb the ideas from Night Shift into Welcome 2.

Saxon
My first Saxon album was Into the Labyrinth and I liked it a lot. Supposedly a new one should be coming this year…

Megadeth (Spring?)
New Megadeth is always a highlight for me, I was disappointed by Endgame but I think the band is gonna go out on a high note with their last album on Roadrunner. I think the band goes into the studio to record in February, so I’m guessing Spring 2011 is the release.

KISS (Summer?)
Easily the most anticipated release of the year for me. Sonic Boom was great and I was very happy to hear both Gene & Paul state in various interviews that a new album would be arriving on 2011. They wouldn’t do it if they couldn’t make money off of it (which had been a concern for years) so I guess Sonic Boom was very profitable for them. I know another tour is gonna start up in the summer so I’m guessing the release will be happening around then.

Riot (Spring)
So happy to hear that Riot is back to work on a new album. I just got into them a little over a year ago but quickly snatched up most of their albums. I haven’t heard a bad Riot album yet and this particular album reunites the Thundersteel line-up.

Skull Fist
They put out a great little EP in 2010, a full album should be even better.

Adler’s Appetite

A few songs from the forthcoming album can now be bought on iTunes and Amazon and they sound really good. I’ve had a good feeling about this album for a long time. It’s exactly what I was expecting — fun rock ‘n’ roll that stays true to Steven’s GNR roots and classic rock-influences.

AnvilJuggernaut of Justice (Spring)
Anvil is always good for some solid heavy metal. It’s a shame it’s taken them this long to release it though.

Quiet Riot
So there’s a new singer and Frankie Banali has been given the blessing of the DuBrow family to continue on with QR. If it’s good enough for Kevin’s mom then it’s good enough for me! Mark Huff sounds pretty close to DuBrow and I know they’ve been re-recording some QR classics but I’m hoping there’s going to be some new material too.

Still Waiting For… (albums originally scheduled for 2010)

AnthraxWorship Music
Originally planned for 2009! The band has gone through three different singers since then and went back to tweaking the album with Belladonna on vocals.

Peter Criss
At the end of 2009, Peter said he’d have an rock album coming out in Spring 2010 but I haven’t heard anything since. Maybe he’ll do what Ace did and release his solo album about the same time KISS releases their new album.

%d bloggers like this: