STRYPER: Even the Devil Believes
Stryper: Even The Devil Believes (The second in a series of reviews that Heaven's Metal likes to do to offer more critical voices when possible.)
Acknowledging Jesus's confirmed existence, death, and resurrection through even secular sources doesn't prevent people from playing amazing metal. In 1986 Stryper proved it with the double-platinum, MTV shaking "To Hell With The Devil". The problem was, could they ever match their Earth shattering album that paved the way for bands like Skillet and P.O.D.? Have they topped an all-time classic record? Let's break down "Even The Devil Believes" one song at a time.
"Blood From Above" is a great track to start with. Energetic, full of life with a powerful chorus and great guitar work. From beginning to end, it's powerful and fun. Michael's falsetto notes at the end are amazing too.
"Make Love Great Again" is a call to love one another. Many people believe it's a political statement, but Stryper is used to misunderstood song titles. It's great to listen to for encouragement and the songwriting nails it.
"Let Him In" brings back memories of songs like "In God We Trust" and "The Reign". There is a clear message about the need to accept Jesus and the pace of the song keeps you focused. The instrument work and clarity of the chorus drives it home.
"Do Unto Others" channels the feeling of their massive MTV hits "Free" and "Honestly" but with better vocal work and arguably the greatest guitar solo Michael Sweet has ever had. Christians and atheists alike can enjoy this song.
"Even The Devil Believes" nails it as a great title song for an amazing album. It talks about how so many people deny Jesus and look away even with all the proof in the world. I can honestly say this is their greatest title track. The message, bass, drums, everything is on track to keep you headbanging.
"How To Fly" gives us a great song from the point of view of God. It is a love song from our creator that sounds inspired by the legendary Electric Light Orchestra. It's beautiful and can help people with low self confidence and depression. It also makes you think about all the things God does for us whether we know it and appreciate it or not. What can He do to make us love Him?
"Divider" has to be the greatest Judas Priest tribute song ever! Amazing screams and more instrumental perfection, it would surely get a grin from the legendary Halford himself. Who knew a warning about people trying to divide us could be so much fun?! To me it is a loving reminder for me to never feed the trolls.
"This I Pray" this song made me forget I hate country music. Other than this and Rascal Flatts. It's a great prayer song based on a prayer I learned as a kid, but deeper.
"Invitation Only" takes you back to the Stryper of olde as it was mostly written in 1989. While it is clearly about Heaven, there is something magical and wondrous about it that can capture secular listeners. It's also mindnumingly catchy.
"For God & Rock N' Roll" I now know what it would sound like if Kiss were a Christian band. This captures the soul of rock n' roll and could easily be a party anthem. Everything about this song is fun and exciting. Listening to it, I keep expecting Gene Simmons to pop out and offer me a soda.
"Middle Finger Messiah" makes a fitting closer. The lyrics explain the sacrifice Jesus paid for ALL of us. It also talks about Him being rejected from the world, given the middle finger with a warning about Him coming not to bring peace but a sword.
Michael Sweets vocals are the best they have ever been. The albums clarity also makes it easier to understand the lyrics than on other albums due to less distortion and more focus on the choruses. The production and editing are top notch. Michael Sweet and Oz Fox continue to have amazing chemistry and defy age. While their work here may not always be as aggressive as they are known for, this is their most artistic approach with their instruments. Robert Sweet continues his reign as the first drummer to literally beat the hell out of his kit. Perry Richardson gave more emphasis on the bass play and his added vocals compliment the band wonderfully. He helped changed the sound and somehow make it better than the Stryper I am used to.
This is their greatest musical output to date. There are no major flaws to discuss. Overall it is also their hardest hitting record, with a Mike Tyson sized punch. Not only is it Strypers best album, but arguably one of the best power metal albums of all time! Music makes God and man alike smile, while the devil trembles. All because even the devil believes.