Album Review — Stryper
Stryper — The Final Battle
Stryper is back with another new record. “The Final Battle” is the band’s fifth studio record since 2013 and first since 2020’s “Even The Devil Believes”. It also caps off a busy year for singer/guitarist Michael Sweet who is one of the busiest men in rock and roll.
From the very first moments of “The Final Battle” it feels that the band has made a concerted effort to release a heavy record. The opening track, “Transgressor”, sees Sweet delivering a mighty scream which is a foreshadow of what’s to come. “Transgressor” is heavy with plenty of melody in the chorus. A good start.
“See No Evil, Hear No Evil” is more plodding but still plenty heavy, especially in the verses. The choruses feature a well placed keyboard and that gang vocal the band is so well known for.
“Some Old Story” features another crunchy riff at the start but is also a little more plodding in the verses. The chorus picks up and is quite catchy with those Stryper backing vocals. The album feels a little darker musically than the early records but I like that the band has kept the group vocal sound.
Another track with a heavy riff to start and a catchy chorus. Some of the tracks are definitely more preachy but this one and a few others are less so. I like the guitar solo in this one as well.
“Near” offers a break from the heavy riffs with a ballad of sorts. There are still plenty of guitars but the feel is much softer. It has to be said that Michael Sweet hasn’t lost anything off his voice. He’s almost 60 and sounds as good as he did in his 20s.
“Out, Up & In” has a little more groove to it than the opening tracks. It almost reminds me of something off the “Against The Law” album. It’s a nice change of style in the middle of the record.
“Rise To The Call” is back to the heavy riffin’ that keeps its driving beat throughout the track. Some impressive soloing gives this one an Iron Maiden feel to it. One of the better tracks on the record.
“The Way, The Truth, The Life” is a second track that has more groove to it at the start but then reminds me of a Dio era Black Sabbath track in the verses. An interesting track musically.
“No Rest For The Wicked” brings more of those heavy, plodding riffs. There are a couple of tracks where the band doesn’t hide their beliefs and views on the world which could be an issue for some listeners. I find many fans are able to put any differences aside but that has to be harder to do these days. I like the sound of this one.
“Till Death Do Us Part” is the second song which could fall in the ballad category as far as content goes but this one doesn’t really sound like your typical ballad. If the band took a more traditional approach to this one it likely would have felt a little cheesy. I also need to address Sweet’s choice of adding high pitched screams throughout the record. At times they are appropriate and add to the tracks but on a track like this they just detract. He has such a great voice that I find them mostly needless.
“Ashes to Ashes” wraps up the album and it is one of the heaviest tracks on the record. While I have enjoyed most of the heavier tracks on the record this one probably is the least successful for me.
I think it’s fair to say that overall this is one of the band’s heaviest records to date. Even putting the overly used high pitched screams aside, most of the tracks feature heavy guitar riffs and pounding drums. Sweet still sounds amazing and hasn’t lost anything from his early days.
I prefer the earlier sound of the band but overall I do like this record. They have retained what I would consider essential sounds of the band while exploring their heavier side.
I would rank this one near the top of this recent stretch of records. It’s a solid metal record.
90 out of 100
2. See No Evil, Hear No Evil *
3. Same Old Story *
4. Heart & Soul *
6. Out, Up & In
7. Rise To The Call *
8. The Way, The Truth, The Life
9. No Rest For The Wicked
10. Till Death Do Us Part
11. Ashes To Ashes