Okay, so…before we go any further let’s address the elephant in the room. And that elephant is the title of the new STRYPER album, God Damn Evil (April 20, Frontiers Music). When I learned that Wal-Mart is refusing to carry the disc based on title alone I actually threw back my head and laughed. I also vowed never to shop there again. In 2018 the world is a very unpleasant, evil, and ugly place. The title is actually more of a call for prayer and a rallying cry for God to Damn all the Evil, get it?? Anyone who doesn’t is part of the problem and not the solution. Anyway, where were we? Oh yis, the fact that we have a new STRYPER album in the first place is cause for much rejoicing in the streets, brothers and sisters!
The fact I fangirl very hard for these guys should come as a shock to no one. I was really into the last two LPs, Fallen and No More Hell to Pay, right? But this new one is better than both of them COMBINED. They managed to put out one of the heaviest songs of their career with opener “Take It to the Cross,” no question. Both Michael Sweet (guitar, lead vocals), and drummer Robert Sweet put on a clinic. With a guest appearance from Matt Bachand (SHADOWS FALL, ACT OF DEFIANCE) on death growls (you read that right), this tune has the distinct honor of being the most divisive track among the fanbase. Me, I love it. STRYPER have never been a band to rest on their laurels or play it safe, and that’s on full display here.
“Sorry” is up next and it really has a boogie and groove the likes of which I haven’t heard from them before. The song deals with being an abusive relationship, and Sweet sings with a conviction some of his peers could only hope to have in dreams. “Lost” is a rocker that might be musically uptempo, but pay attention to the lyrics because they are truly saying something about the world we live in today. Killer dual harmonized solos from Sweet and Oz Fox here, too. This track features thumping bass (as do they all!) from none other than John O’Boyle, who played on Sweet’s last two solo records. Now, come down to the next paragraph so we can discuss my favorite song on the disc, okay?
“God Damn Evil” is one that instantly stuck in my head much the way “Take It to the Cross” did, but it’s not an earworm like the other one is. This is a big, bombastic chorus on a song that truly has an uplifting message, again something we sorely need. When that chorus lets rip I wanna stand on tables, pound my chest, and sing along at the top of my lungs, something the owners of several of my favorite eateries seem to frown upon. Doesn’t matter, the song 100% rocks and I really, REALLY hope they do it live here in my area on May 14. Up next is “You Don’t Even Know Me” with a swagger, razor sharp riff and even sharper message.
“The Valley” is another track with Chunky-style riffs and a massive hook. If as a fan, you can’t see yourself up against the barricade at a show yelling along to this one, oh man…I dunno what’s wrong with you. Oh, and then we get dueling guitar leads from Sweet and Fox. Man, that does down smooth, doesn’t it? “Sea of Thieves” also belongs to the Big Hook Club and is yet another winner, while “Beautiful” might just be that song that anyone going through some bad stuff needs to hear. Because we are all beautiful in our own way. Meanwhile “Can’t Live Without Your Love” is a fine addition to the already sizeable ballad collection from these guys. “Own Up” has a very cool vibe with a sick riff that makes the engine go.
Closer “The Devil Doesn’t Live Here” is balls-to-the-wall heavy, fast, and also the perfect way to end this thrill ride in convincing fashion. At the end of the day STRYPER have created something special with this album. Every song kicks where it needs to, but at the same time the boys weren’t afraid to try different things to make a song better, harder, or give it that special something. That’s why God Damn Evil is easily their best record since To Hell With the Devil. And that’s why this one will without a doubt be on my year end Top Albums List of 2018. Hell, it’s in the running for my Album of the YEAR!! So go get your copy right away. DO IT!!!
STANDOUT TRACKS: ALL OF THEM