If at this point it seems like STRYPER frontman Michael Sweet never stops, well…it’s because he doesn’t. Last year saw the release of SWEET & LYNCH’S debut LP Only To Rise, as well as a new STRYPER album in Fallen, both excellent records. And now here we are with his latest solo effort One Sided War (out now on Rat Pak Records), the follow-up to 2014’s I’m Not Your Suicide. Dizzy yet? I seriously don’t know how he does it, but I’m sure glad he keeps cranking out the great stuff because the more Michael Sweet music in my life the better!
The album opens in true rocking fashion with “Bizarre”, a four-on-the-floor shredder that truly showcases the talents of the guys who play on the disc. We’ve got WHITESNAKE guitarist extraordinaire Joel Hoekstra ripping it up not just here but across the whole thing, drummer Will Hunt (EVANESCENCE) calling the thunder, bassist John O’Boyle, who also played on the last record cracking the bottom end, and East Coast shred-master Ethan Brosh adding his licks as well. And of course Mr. Sweet is the Ringleader of this rock brigade!
Title track “One Sided War” is a mid-tempo guitar-driven piece with a big chorus and tight groove, while “Radio” is a tongue-in-cheek little ditty aimed good-naturedly at the 80’s rockers who decided to try their hands at country (you KNOW who you are!) with varying results. I laughed my ass off at how accurate these lyrics were. Moral of the story? Be true to who you are, fellas. “Golden Age” is another fast-paced number that is designed to make those of you with a lead foot floor it down the highway, laughing maniacally all the way.
A truly great song pops up in “Only You”, the arrangement, guitar lines, and Sweet’s delivery coming together in perfect concert. Some more seriously sick guitar work punctuates “I Am” while “Who Am I” provides a change of pace and a terrific solo before the triple threat that closes the album launches us into the stratosphere. First of all, “You Make Me Wanna” is one of my favorite tracks on this whole disc due to the way it moves and Sweet’s vocals propelling it forward. “Comfort Zone” is one of the most anthemic tunes the album has to offer, and once again, Sweet kills it on the chorus.
Official closer “One Way Up” is without a doubt one of the record’s best and another personal favorite. The band is on fire, and Michael Sweet sings like his life is on the line. This is the kind of tune you jam in the backyard with a cooler full of beer, steaks on the grill, and buddies all around. As a bonus track there is “Can’t Take This Life”, which appears earlier on the album, but this time it has 15-year old singing sensation Moriah Formica dueting with Sweet. Ladies and gentlemen, this little lady is going to be a HUGE star. She’s incredible, and much like Gabbie Rae, will be part of the next generation of rock and metal ladies leading the charge.
At the end of the day One Sided War is Michael Sweet’s best solo record yet. There’s no doubt this will be in my year-end Top Albums List of 2016. All the songs resonate and hit in the right places emotionally while still rocking your face off. And a little birdie told me we might be getting a solo tour in 2017, so we’ll see what happens. I really hope so because he is always spectacular live. In the meantime, enjoy these tunes, buy this album and crank it up!!
STANDOUT TRACKS: ALL OF THEM