Stryper - Murder By Pride (2009) Jan 17, 2010 22:28:13 GMT -5
Post by Erik Rupp on Jan 17, 2010 22:28:13 GMT -5
Stryper broke into the music scene as one of the first Christian Heavy Metal bands back in the mid 80's. Their debut EP The Yellow and Black Attack was a solid, fairly straightforward collection of melodic Heavy Metal songs. The follow up, Soldiers Under Command, was much the same. It was their third album, To Hell With the Devil, however, that broke them through to the mainstream with a more polished sound, and radio friendly ballads to go with the harder edged music.
Like most bands, Stryper's popularity faded and they split up. And like a lot of bands they got back together a few years ago, and Murder By Pride is their 2nd album after getting back together. Surprisingly, it's not only more aggressive than their biggest hits, it's also a lot better than most people would have believed before it's release.
The album's production is decent from a sonic standpoint, but nothing to write home about. Like most independent albums the glaring difference from bigger budget albums is the snare drum sound. Here the snare just lacks fullness and crispness. It just sounds a bit distant (as if recorded primarily by a room mike). The guitar and bass tones are good, however, and the vocals are well recorded, so the album does sound fairly good overall.
The rockers on the album can really rock, like opener, "Eclipse For the Son," and, "Four Leaf Clover," which are two of the album's highlights. Also rocking at least as much as their 80's material (and containing good riffs and strong vocal melodies) are songs like, "The Plan," the title track, "Murder By Pride," "Mercy Over Blame," and, "Everything."
Of course, there are ballads on the album. Michael Sweet has a voice that is well suited to both rockers and ballads, and he seems to enjoy writing and singing ballads like, "Alive," (a decent, but unspectacular track), "I Believe," (which is a true Power Ballad with a fairly heavy chorus, and a good song), and, "Run In You," (another good, dynamic ballad - this one textured with acoustic guitar).
Also on the album are two cover songs. The first is a cover of the Boston classic, "Peace of Mind," which is well done (although the more staccato verse than the original version sounds just a little off) and features a guest appearance by the man himself - Tom Scholz. (Covering the track was not a big surprise, neither was Scholz' appearance as Michael Sweet is now also a member of Boston.) The second cover song is one of Stryper's own songs, "My Love (I'll Always Show)," which was originally recorded for the re-release of their debut EP (when it was issued on CD). The new version is a complete reworking of the song as the original was a fairly sappy ballad (with no drums), and the new version is pretty heavy. It's another solid track on a solid album.
The performances on the album are all very good as Michael Sweet's vocals are just about 98% as strong as they were 25 years ago, and his lead playing is still quite good - as is Oz Fox' lead playing (he is a great complementary player to Sweet). The band's vocal harmonies are as, if you'll pardon the pun, sweet as ever, and new bass player Tracy Ferrie fits in like a glove. Robert Sweet is still part of the band, but missed most of (if not all of) the studio recording on Murder By Pride and the drums were played by the much respected Kenny Aronoff (who did a rather good job here, as he almost always does).
The bottom line? Murder By Pride is a very, very good album. It sounds like classic (early) Stryper with just a few hints of current hard rock styles (just enough so that the album sounds fresh while being an old school Heavy Metal album).
If you've ever liked Stryper then chances are you'll like Murder By Pride. It really is quite good.