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Album Review: STRYPER The Final Battle

9 Reviewer

Stryper is a heavy metal band with a storied history and an amazing body of work. These past few years have been rough for the Yellow and Black. Guitarist Oz Fox has been bravely battling brain tumors and vocalist Michael Sweet has had to contend with eye issues. The band, however, soldiers on, providing fans with some stellar new songs on The Final Battle.

I was a huge fan of 2018's God Damn Evil, which was fast and heavy. This was similar to 2015's Fallen, also an amazing record which provided a lot of heft as well as their rich signature sound. I found 2020's Even the Devil Believes to miss some of the speed and the heft from their previous releases so I wasn't quite sure what to expect with The Final Battle. Fondly, their newest record finds this Christian foursome back to fervently embracing heaviness. One of their early singles, "Rise to the Call" is a powerful message that immediately put a large smile on my face. This is so classic Stryper. This is what I was really hoping for.

The Final Battle LP itself opens with a banger with "Transgressor" and a signature Michael Sweet scream over Oz Fox's profoundly distinct guitar. That tone is all Stryper, and we've heard it on every single record since the very beginning. Perry Richardson and Robert Sweet get a lot of space in the mix with the rhythm section providing the backbone for Fox and Michael to work in. The band is clearly firing on all cylinders and the addition of the twin solos at about three minutes into the track bring it home. Sweet, however, still takes center stage with his absolute standout vocal performance that just makes me stop what I'm doing and stare in awe.

Getting back to Perry Richardson, he absolutely crushes it on this new record. His bass is prominent and enmeshed perfectly in the rest of the music. This is especially paramount on the slower, ballad-y "Near," which has a rich fullness on the instrumentation mixed with lush vocals. A classic Stryper ballad for a band that has a rather extensive catalog of stellar ballads.

"See No Evil, Hear No Evil," is a song that could have easily been on any of the early records. Absolute vintage Stryper here as they produce a song that's surely to be a fan favorite in the live show. I adore Richardson's bass tone here and he's settled into the band nicely since joining a few years back.

Tracks like "No Rest for the Wicked" have a blues-y Glenn Hughes vibe to them and Stryper is able to really bring out the blues when they need to. It's a nice change of pace in the middle of the record. Same with "Heart_Soul" which also integrates blues into an uplifting four minute cut that is sprinkled with those trademark Sweet vocals.

"Ashes to Ashes" is a high energy closer in the manner we've come to expect from this band. A sing-along chorus and a strong religious message seem to help our favorite foursome craft a banger of an album ender that keeps us wanting more. And that just might be the key here. After listening to all 11 songs, many times, I still want more from Stryper. Nothing here is tired. Nothing here is dull. The band seems to get harder as they get older and it really works for them. This is a solid record with no filler and I can't wait to both hear these songs on the road and to hear what they do next.

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