Michael Sweet, ‘One Sided War’ – Album Review
Michael Sweet has been especially productive and creative over the past few years. Since 2013 his band Stryper have released three studio albums and a live record and Sweet teamed up with George Lynch for the 2015 album Only To Rise.
He also wrote the book Honestly: My Life and Stryper Revealed in 2014 and released a solo album that year. His latest solo record is One Sided War.
Sweet’s solo band for the album includes guitarists Joel Hoekstra (Whitesnake) and Ethan Brosh (Angels Of Babylon), bassist John O’Boyle and drummer Will Hunt (Evanescence). While One Sided War certainly has a lot of similarities to Stryper, this time around Sweet increased the intensity.
“Musically it’s my heaviest solo album,” Sweet contends. “It’s not thrash metal but there are definitely some songs on there that will pop out at you. There are some songs that have a bit of the Iron Maiden / Dio feel to them, as well as some songs that have a little bit of a Van Halen influence to them. It’s a very guitar-oriented, hard rock/metal album with lots of melodies and hooks.”
His seventh solo album brings that heaviness from the opening track “Bizarre,” which includes some searing guitar solos and Sweet’s instantly recognizable voice that still has as much power as it ever did.
The title track is more moderately paced and earnest, while “Radio” begins and ends with a hint of a twang, with memorable melodies in between. Perhaps the catchiest track on the record is “Only You,” although “One Way Up” gives it a run for its money. There’s also the requisite power ballad, the dynamic “Who Am I.”
The song “Can’t Take This Life” appears twice on the album. The original version of the bombastic rocker is just Sweet singing. The bonus track version is a duet with 16-year-old vocalist Moriah Formica.
In addition to his vocal and songwriting prowess, Sweet is also a talented producer. The album’s sound has plenty of crispness and clarity while leaving the punch and edge of the guitars intact. The combination of that excellent guitar work and Sweet’s seemingly endless supply of memorable hooks and melodies makes One Sided War one of his best solo efforts.