CD Review: Stryper – Fallen

CD Review: Stryper – Fallen
Frontiers Music srl
All Access Rating: A-

Styper - Fallen 2015
Placing its faith in heavy, crunching riffs and bold, uplifting melodies enveloped in fire-and-brimstone bluster paid off handsomely for a reinvigorated Stryper on 2013's No More Hell to Pay, an album that drew rave reviews from critics once reluctant to pay them any respect whatsoever.

A Frontiers Music srl release, Fallen continues their glorious crusade back to metal relevancy. Holding nothing back in terms of its growing creative aspirations and staying on message with determined zeal, the yellow-and-black attack is increasingly intense and relentless on the mighty Fallen, where high-minded principles and sentiments sometimes clash with righteous indignation.

All of which is found in the epic opener "Yahweh," as storming thrash-metal anger collides with angelic choirs and rousing, uplifting power-metal drama in a tour-de-force production that's as ambitious as anything the Christian metal stalwarts have ever attempted. Driving furiously through fast-paced, gripping tracks such as the Black Sabbath cover "After Forever" and "Till I Get What I Need," Stryper seems to relish throwing off the shackles of its hair-metal past. And when provoked, they can turn downright vicious, passionately pounding the pulpit with thundering sonic authority while condemning Hollywood for its false portrayal of Christians in "Big Screen Lies."

On Fallen, the band's 11th original album, there is darkness and light, with Oz Fox and Michael Sweet trading various combinations of searing, hot-wired guitar licks that seem to take dead aim at Stryper's detractors and Sweet singing with dynamic force and great conviction, as drummer Robert Sweet and bassist Tim Gaines flex their rhythmic muscles. Brawling, weighty guitars grind through the title track, "Pride" and "Let There Be Light," their gnarled hooks gripping tightly to desperate souls seeking salvation, while "Heaven" smolders, "Love You Like I Do" stings with melodic sweetness and the lovely pop-metal ballad "All Over Again" swoons with sighing harmonies.

Without completely reinventing themselves, Stryper has shown that an old dog of an '80s metal band can learn a few new tricks and not lose its identity in the process. There are times on Fallen where it seems Stryper falls back too easily on what's worked for them in the past and becomes formulaic, but for the faithful who've stuck with them through it all, that's probably a comfort.
– Peter Lindblad

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