Stryper - 'God Damn Evil'

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Stryper - 'God Damn Evil'

With reference to Sweet's remarks about 'God Damn Evil' being their best album to date? You know what, he might just be right.

If front-man Michael Sweet is to be believed, then this release is the band's best album to date. 'God Damn Evil' also represents the first record to feature bassist Perry Richardson so it begins a new chapter in Stryper's career. There are eleven tracks on show here and they all display what the band do so very well. The rockers are hard and occasionally very heavy, and we get the obligatory ballad, of course, but even that's not of the really sugary, sweet variety.

Lead-off song 'Take It To The Cross' is a real statement of intent with Sweet literally screaming out some of the lyrics which are laid over a drum-heavy backing track; this song also contains a scintillating guitar break. 'Sorry' is up next and this is what the band are all about, a track that has a catchy sing-along chorus but with a very meaty core to the song.

There's a real focus and sharpness to this release, whether that's down to the addition of Richardson or not I don't know, but the whole album exudes a confidence that has been growing within the band over their past few records and it's all coalesced into this, a fine piece of work from a group fully in command of their own abilities. The band never overwork any of the songs on the album and, consequently, it's all tight and concise, further evidence that the band have hit upon a groove. This is very evident with tracks like 'The Valley' and 'Beautiful' where they keep the song-writing and performances streamlined, and they are all the better for it. 'Can't Live Without Your Love' (the album's ballad as such) is more of a Classic Rock, arm-waving affair; it certainly features a relatively slower tempo when compared with what's gone before and works very well within the context of the album.

'Own Up' is cut from the same cloth as 'Sorry', it's very catchy and yet still possesses enough heaviness to please, while closer 'The Devil Doesn't Live Here' finishes it all off in fine Judas Priest-like style. Of course, the religious mantra is very evident, but it's never overdone.

'Soldiers Under Command' will always be the album I measure the band by and that was a truly immense record indeed. With reference to Sweet's initial remarks about 'God Damn Evil' being their best album to date? You know what, he might just be right.

Malcolm Smith

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