To quote one of my favorite television series, The Goldbergs, “It was 1980 something and I remember….” Like it was yesterday, I vividly recall watching Stryper’s video for their single, “Calling On You” for the very first time. Powerful, high pitched vocals, fast screaming guitar solos and more yellow and black than the eye can take in, Stryper was mesmerizing like nothing I had experienced before. I immediately purchased To Hell with the Devil on cassette, and I played it until the tape couldn’t take the pressure any longer and broke. Just like all fans, I quickly discovered this was the band’s third release. So, I used every last penny I could find and before you know it, their first two albums The Yellow and Black Attack and Soldiers Under Command were mine. Stryper was such a large influence on my life as a teenager that even to this day, and 11 studio albums later, I never tire of their music.
Fast forward to early 1990-something; I was in a record store thumbing through CDs, and to my surprise found Stryper vocalist Michael Sweet’s solo, full length, self- titled debut album. After years of “head banging” music from Stryper, this was a side of Michael Sweet I had never seen. Labeled a Christian Rock band, Stryper sent a definitive message about faith in a higher power, whereas Sweet’s solo work geared more toward life and experiences we all face. On August 26th, the singer/song writer from Orange County California will release his seventh full length studio album, One Sided War via Rat Pak Records. On the new album, Michael teams up with rock veterans, Joel Hoekstra (Whitesnake/Night Ranger) and Ethan Brosh on guitars, Will Hunt (Evanescence) on drums and John O’ Boyle on bass.
One Sided War reminds me of Sweet’s first solo album in regards to surprise. The message is less Christian, and again references everyday life as most of us see it. Yet, unlike his previous solo work, it is much heavier and appeals more to my metal side. After three decades of song writing and touring the world over (with Stryper, solo, and Boston from 2007 – 2011), you would think one would grow weary of this way of life, or lose some enthusiasm. This is apparently not the case for Michael Sweet. The first track “Bizarre” starts the album off the way an album should be, loud and in your face! Several of the tracks bring me back to those Stryper days. They are heavy with catchy, “sing a long” choruses and eardrum piercing guitar solos. With the songs “Radio” and “One Way Up” you hear a more southern rock style of writing. Michael also throws in a signature power ballad with “Who Am I.” For the lucky, on limited editions you will find a special bonus track “Can’t Take This Life” with guest star Moriah Formica.
For me, the longtime fan, it is refreshing to see one of my heroes still doing what he does best. Will One Sided War bring in a new fan base for Sweet or even Stryper? That remains to be seen. Like Michael and his fellow band mates, I will let fate take course and not let my faith in his ability as an artist waiver. Those who are familiar with Michael Sweet and his career will love it. Stryper is currently on tour with rock legends Skid Row. I hope to see tour dates in support of One Sided War and material from his both solo albums in the near future.
One Sided War tracks:
One Sided War
Can’t take this life
Who am I?
You make me wanna
One way up
Can’t take this life (bonus track with Moriah Formica)
Michael has already released a video for the single “Bizarre.” You can view it here.