Stryper - 2009 Murder By Pride

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ARTIST: Stryper
ALBUM: Murder By Pride
LABEL: Frontiers (Europe)/Big 3 Records (USA)
SERIAL: FRCD 422, 80498368682
YEAR: 2009

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: image

LINEUP: Michael Sweet - vocals, guitars * Oz Fox - guitars * Tracy Ferrie - bass * Kenny Aronoff - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Eclipse For The Son * 02 4 Leaf Clover * 03 Peace Of Mind * 04 Alive * 05 The Plan * 06 Murder By Pride * 07 Mercy Over Blame * 08 I Believe * 09 Run In You * 10 Love Is Why * 11 Everything * 12 My Love (I'll Always Show)

RATING: image

Background

Stryper will always be pioneers of taking Christian metal music to the mainstream in the 80's, releasing several gold and even one platinum record.

Like many of their ilk, by the early 90's Stryper's music had fallen out of favor with fans despite releasing their best work IMO with 1990's 'Against The Law'.

Stryper would first disband in 1992, with Michael Sweet embarking on a solo career. Reuniting for the first time in 1999, Stryper has since released several compilations along with a disappointing comeback album called 'Reborn'.

The latter was an attempt at a modern rock sound, adding in its fair share of down tuned guitars and fuzzy grunge inspirations.

'Murder By Pride' marks a return to the sound Stryper was known for in the 80's, with Michael Sweet's high-pitched, multi-octave screams and twin guitar solos back for the attack.

Missing here is Robert Sweet, a key element in the group's sound and highly visual performances of the 80's. Kenny Aronoff, who once pounded the skins for the likes of Smashing Pumpkins, Cinderella and John Fogerty fills in for the 'visual timekeeper', who is said to be returning for the group's 25th Anniversary tour this fall.

Tracy Ferrie who cut his teeth in Michael Sweet's band, Electrik, Whitecross, Guardian, Rebecca St. James, among others replaces bassist Tim Gaines.

Oz Fox gives up his day job as teacher and touring member of Bloodgood to return on guitar.

Despite these other bandmate's gigs (including Michael as one of two lead singers in Boston) and his wife Kyle's sadly passing of stage four ovarian cancer in March, Stryper's 10th effort has finally seen the light of day.

The Songs

'Eclipse Of The Sun' - A swift kick in the arse few saw coming after the disappointing 'Reborn', boasting the same screams and solos found in the early Stryper sound. The hook is undeniable and puts the band back into interest for me. Sweet's vocal power is over the top, and Aronoff keeps the 'visual timekeeping' intact!

'Four Leaf Clover' - Aside from some modern sounding elements in place, Sweet manages to twist this back into a bonafide killer cut. Again the vocals are crisp and the arrangements stellar.

'Peace Of Mind' - is an ok cover demonstrating what Sweet sounds like when out front with Boston. Scholz plays guitar but doesn't help nor hinder one of the weaker tracks on the platter.

'Alive' - An endearing ballad Sweet and co are famous for, bursting with melodies and emotion.

'The Plan' - even with a sound akin to 'Reborn', still manages to be effective with the help of a sweet chorus and Sweet's powerful pipes.

'Murder by Pride' - another strong chorus and vocal workout by Sweet, the powerful guitars don't hinder the title cut either.

'I Believe' - Contemporary sounding ditty seems to peter out along the way, however Oz plays his ass here which is not overlooked.

'Mercy Over Blame' - Manages to effectively blend the 80's Stryper sound with modern sensibilities.

'Run In You' - Probably the least Stryper sounding cut, very similar to the direction Sweet took on his solo efforts.

'Love Is Why' - unfortunately a meandering cut in many ways, however its catchy chorus saves it from ruin.

'Everything' - Another decent cut showcasing exceptional musicianship of the players involved.

'My Love I'll Always Show' - A reworking of the original version of this Stryper class is good but not necessary IMO here.

In Summary

Very much what fans would of wanted with 'Reborn' and thankfully filtering out much of its modern rock trappings to boot.

Since it's release in July 2009, 'Murder By Pride' has charted decent, coming in #11, #2 and #13 respectively on several Billboard charts including the top 200 at #73. Stryper will embark on a 25th Anniversary tour in support this fall.


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