Stryper – No More Hell To Pay

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Review by Brian McGowan

Frontiers

More hard rock than heavy metal, No More Hell To Pay shows us just what an accomplished songwriter Michael Sweet has become. And indeed, if his criminally underrated Truth album (2000) is anything to go by, has been for quite some time. Strip away the metallised guitars and you expose a bunch of alternately sweet and sturdy melodies, each easily distinguished from the rather ordinary fare served up by most bands in their peer group. Maybe he learned a lot when he collaborated with Bob Marlette on Truth, or maybe it’s just that he took Rubinstein’s Carnegie Hall advice to heart. Either way, great song-writing is cemented into the very heart of No More Hell To Pay, and on that foundation a magnificent album has been built.

The band have had their ups and downs, but they’ve never really been away, and that is clearly evident here: the music is precision machined – the 3 part harmonies, the formidable dual guitar attacks, sometimes savage, sometimes slick, but always purposeful, always done with intent – there’s no place for pointless virtuosity here. And a pin-sharp production captures one of the great rock voices in full flood. Sweet’s howling wail, now a trademarked device, rather than a primal scream, intros the pounding, crunching, ‘Saved by Love’ and ‘Legacy’, and later, in the climactic passage of the album’s edgiest piece, ‘Marching Into Battle’, it leads the band into the nearest thing yet to the stridency and power of Sabbath-like heavy metal.

The band’s avowed Christianity informs the lyrics without overwhelming them. The narratives are sharply drawn, creating an ambiguity where not a word is wasted. And there’s always a lyrical payoff, usually illuminated by a lustrous hook…’Revelation’ and ‘The One’ would shine in any hard rock surroundings. A word too on ‘Jesus Is Just Alright’, a much covered sixties’ gospel song. The Byrds and The Doobies made decent stabs at this one, but Stryper‘s version transforms the song into a true clarion call for our times.

There aren’t too many eighties’ so called ‘Christian Rock/Metal’ bands still around, still touring, still recording. With the aptly named No More Hell To Pay, Stryper have confirmed what all fans hoped – that they had at least one more great album in them. Recommended.

Stryper 20139 out of 10

Track Listing:

  1. Revelation
  2. No More Hell To Pay
  3. Saved by Love
  4. Jesus Is Just Alright
  5. The One
  6. The Legacy
  7. Marching Into Battle
  8. Te Amo
  9. Sticks And Stones
  10. Water Into Wine
  11. Sympathy
  12. Renewed

 

1 COMMENT

  1. Love this album from the once bible throwing ’80’s black and yellow brigade. Having interviewed Michael Sweet about the album I know he’s really proud of it . Love the fact that they can still produce albums of this caliber so far into their careers……must mention the fantastic artwork also, it looks amazing as a gatefold LP, just had to buy it.

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