CD Review: Stryper – Live at the Whisky

CD Review: Stryper – Live at the Whisky
Frontiers Records
All Access Rating: A-

Stryper - Live at the Whisky 2014
A modern-day Sodom and Gomorrah in the '80s, the Sunset Strip was swimming in sin and depravity. It was the sort of place a vengeful God might reduce to rubble with a wave of His mighty hand.

Into this devil's playground walked four yellow-and-black clad crusaders, carrying the cross of Christian metal into dens of iniquity like the Whisky a Go Go. What a place for a band like Stryper to try to make a name for itself, fighting the good fight and eventually gaining acceptance from skeptics with a rugged, uplifting pop-metal sound full of blissful vocal interplay and spiraling, pealing guitar harmonies.

Some 30 years later, long after the platinum success of To Hell With The Devil, Stryper's original lineup of vocalist/guitarist Michael Sweet, guitarist Oz Fox, drummer Robert Sweet and bassist Tim Gaines made its return to the Whisky last November, eager to perform for the first time material from the heaviest album of their meaningful lives, No More Hell to Pay.

Available now as a 16-track CD/DVD package from Frontiers Records, Live at the Whisky is the raw, punched-up recording of Stryper letting it all hang out that night, kicking into high gear immediately with a venomous, hard-charging version of No More Hell to Pay's "Legacy" and churning through the tough, defiant riffs of "Marching into Battle," before sinking their perfect teeth into the big, joyous pop hooks, striking melodies and ragged glory of "Reach Out," "Calling on You," "Always There For You" and taking a whip to a high-spirited cover of the Doobie Brothers' "Jesus Is Just Alright."

Playing to a raucous crowd behind them every step of the way, Stryper deliver the goods and then some, giving as good as they get in return with a tight, energetic performance, as Fox and Michael Sweet reach deeply into their bag of tricks to solo like demons and harmonize like angels. A rampaging take on "The Way" rams into the double-barreled blast of "To Hell With The Devil" and "Soldiers Under Command" with all the force of a wrecking ball, as Robert Sweet's drums snap and crack and Gaines controls the low end with a firm hand.

This is Stryper firing on all cylinders, invigorated and sweaty, evangelizing without sermonizing and having the time of their lives. On message and on point, they play with renewed vigor and a sharpened sense of purpose that should be obvious to anybody with an open mind. The yellow-and-black attack is back, and it's ready to embark on another crusade.
– Peter Lindblad

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