Stryper, ‘Fallen’ – Album Review
Back in the '80s, Stryper were decked out in spandex as the "Yellow and Black Attack" and throwing bibles into the crowd at their live shows. Like many bands of the era, the '90s were a tough decade for the band, and they didn't release a studio album for 15 years.
For the past decade, however, they have been releasing a string of new material. The veteran band has long since abandoned the spandex, but their beliefs and message remain the same.
Fallen is Stryper's eleventh studio album, and like their recent efforts, the disc was produced by the band's frontman Michael Sweet. Their polished sound has huge hooks and the memorable melodies are intact, as is the power and range in Sweet's instantly recognizable voice. However, they have also ratcheted up the intensity, making this the band's heaviest album to date.
That's evident from the opening track "Yahweh," which begins with an A capella choir part before launching into power metal mode. The track was co-written with Clint Lowery of Sevendust, and at just over six minutes, is their longest song ever.
The guitar work of Oz Fox and Sweet is stellar throughout the album, with numerous soaring solos and quality riffage. The title track "Fallen" has those excellent riffs along with a harsher delivery in some sections from Sweet, which adds some edge to the song. For those that yearn for the band's '80s sound, "Love You Like I Do" has the anthemic qualities and style of that era.
It wouldn't be a Stryper album without a ballad, and "All Over Again" fills that slot on Fallen. While modern, you can envision the song being a huge hit back in the day, with an earnest message, singalong chorus and backing "oohs."
There's also a cover song on the album, as Stryper tackle Black Sabbath's "After Forever." On the surface, a Christian band covering Sabbath may seem like an odd choice, but when you dig into the lyrics it makes a lot of sense.
Sweet says, "Stryper covering a Sabbath tune causes much controversy. The lyrics are very interesting because it questions if Sabbath was a Christian band or not. They could have been the first Christian group if you take a closer look at those lyrics.”
There's minimal filler on the album, and the record flows really well, culminating in the closing track "King of Kings." Like the opener, Stryper's message is clear with lyrics that state, "He is the King of Kings, He is the Lord of Lords."
The added heaviness coupled with their usual excellent musicianship and memorable songs makes Fallen Stryper's strongest album since their '80s glory days that saw them go platinum with 1986's To Hell With The Devil and gold with 1988's In God We Trust.