Review by Paul Monkhouse for MPM
Not many bands have caused as much controversy as Stryper.
Scorned by some sections of the secular press and also getting a lot of heat from Christians who utterly missed the point of what they were doing, the four-piece fought tooth and nail every step of the way, letting the music do the talking.
Finding fame initially in the mid 80’s, their brand of commercial hard rock found its way into the record collections of thousands across the world, drawn by the great hooks and strong, individual image as much as the message.
‘Even The Devil Believes’ is their twelfth album and first with new bass player Perry Richardson, formerly of FireHouse.
The band have certainly developed over the years, from the early glam, sprinkled with a smattering of sugar, days to the much rougher and tougher outfit they are these days.
Whilst they haven’t gone to the truly heavy end of the spectrum as typified by the likes of Living Sacrifice, Detritus and Seventh Angel they have certainly added a lot more crunch and fire to their material.
Opener ‘Blood From Above’ rocks with a Judas Priest-like intensity, Michael Sweet’s vocals at times reaching the same pitch as Rob Halford’s, whilst his guitar and that of Oz Fox roar like two wildcats.
The band haven’t turned their back entirely on melody in favour of this harder and heavier approach, as tracks like ‘Make Love Great Again’ and the album title track ably demonstrate, both tough rockers but mixing great hooks and gang vocals in amongst the riffs.
On top of these elements, ‘How To Fly’ adds some interesting Beatles and ELO like vibes and lead single ‘Do Unto Others’ is a hard bitten slice of metal with an anthemic chorus and dirt under its fingernails and blood on its face.
There’s more of their traditional feel to ‘Invitation Only’ that provides some keys strewn AOR and power ballad ‘This I Pray’ is a definite nod to the early days of the band.
Despite these throwbacks to their heritage, it’s most definitely tracks like the razor sharp, growling and prowling ‘Divider’ and blistering closer ‘Middle Finger Messiah’ that best illustrate where the band are now.
Sweet, along with drummer brother Robert, Fox and Richardson have made an album that more than holds its own against anything on the market. In ‘Even The Devil Believes’, Stryper show that they still have the chops and attitude to carry the message as strongly and faithfully today as they always have, the album confirmation of their place in the upper echelons of the hard rock scene. One of 2020’s most vital releases.
Track Listing for “Even the Devil Believes”:
- Blood From Above
- Make Love Great Again
- Let Him In
- Do Unto Others
- Even The Devil Believes
- How To Fly
- This I Pray
- Invitation Only
- For God & Rock ‘N’ Roll
- Middle Finger Messiah