Few if any rock and metal folk out there were more excited than yours truly about the collaboration between STRYPER’S Michael Sweet and LYNCH MOB/KXM’S George Lynch. Here are two titans of the metal world who have been doing some of their best work in the second half of their careers, so to have them come together in SWEET & LYNCH really is a no-brainer. When you factor in the rhythm section of James Lomenzo on bass and powerhouse drummer Brian Tichy (a personal favorite!) all the elements for success are right there: All-American riffs, big choruses, razor-sharp production thanks to Mr. Sweet, and just an overall free and easy vibe. So since Only to Rise dropped today via Frontiers Records I thought we’d get into it, yeah?
Right from jump “The Wish” gets going with that patented George Lynch guitar that is instantly recognizable no matter where you are. Truth be told this one sounds like it could have been on the last STRYPER record which suits me just fine. Recent single and video “Dying Rose” echoes BAD COMPANY and has a real boogie to it, while “Love Stays” takes things down a notch and then the first of my three standouts in a row shows its face in “Time Will Tell.” The hook is infectious and sticks in your head like Chinese food does to my ribs. Lynch’s solo on this one is piercing and evocative; I love it.
The drums and bass really jump out at you on “Rescue Me” which combines some fantastic riffs with a 70’s/80’s groove that will have you coming back for more and more. The organ in the background calls to mind some Craig Rollie-era JOURNEY and yet another blazing guitar solo is dropped in our laps. One thing Michael Sweet has always excelled at…ballads. And “Me Without You” is certainly no exception. It is at times pained, haunting, and beautiful, sometimes all three at once and would have to be not only my pick for the best of these three, but also the whole record. The band steps on the gas for “Recover” and Michael lets rip with his trademark highs he’s been doing for 30 years plus now. Once again I am floored that he is 50 years old and change because he makes some young bucks out there look sorry!
Another groovy grinder comes along in “Divine” which is meaty on the verses and the chorus is well…just divine. Oh yeah, Lynch goes nuts again. The guy is such an ass-kicker when it comes to his solos, it’s like crack for your ears. Shades of IRON MAIDEN’S “Wasted Years” mark the intro to “September” but that’s where the similarities end. This tune is more rock than metal with a commanding hook that demands you sit up straight and listen! In addition to their ability to craft mid-tempo rockers the boys in this band really know how to dirty it up rhythm-wise. By my count “Strength in Numbers” is the third number with a serpentine swampy thing going on, and it works yet again. Tichy and Lomenzo really dig in for “Hero-Zero”; it’s their song, and don’t you forget it. This is another one that could easily have been a STRYPER or a LYNCH MOB song, no question.
Closing the disc is the title track and heaviest song. Lynch once again digs deep into his seemingly endless well of killer riffs and he, Tichy, Lomenzo, and Sweet sound like they’re having the time of their lives on this one. Actually the whole album sounds that way. Only to Rise is a terrific record from four seasoned vets who have nothing, and I do mean nothing to prove. They do it because they love it, and if it happens to knock listeners on their asses, so be it. It’s out now, so grab your copy posthaste!!
STANDOUT TRACKS: ALL OF THEM