Stryper - Soldiers Under Command

dtabachndtabachn Buenos Aires, Argentina
edited July 31 in year-1985

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ARTIST: Stryper
ALBUM: Soldiers Under Command
LABEL: Enigma
SERIAL: 72077-1
YEAR: 1985
CD REISSUE: Reissue List

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: image
LINEUP: Michael Sweet - vocals, guitar * Oz Fox - guitar * Tim Gaines - bass * Robert Sweet - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Soldiers Under Command * 02 Makes Me Wanna Sing * 03 Together Forever * 04 First Love * 05 The Rock That Makes Me Wanna Roll * 06 Reach Out * 07 (Waiting For) A Love That's Real * 08 Together As One * 09 Surrender *10 Battle Hymn Of The Republic (Glory Glory Hallelujah)

RATING: image
WEBLINKS: Site Link

Background

The band started as Roxx Regime in the early 80's. A certain CC DeVille briefly filled the guitar slot. Rechristened as Stryper (an acronym for: Salvation Through Redemption, Yielding Peace, Encouragement, and Righteousness.

It is also related to the Bible verse Isaiah 53:5), the Orange County, CA based foursome recorded their debut 'The Yellow And Black Attack' (an EP or a short album depending on which version you choose) in 1984. A vast improvement in both the production (Michael Wagener) and songwriting departments is 1985's 'Soldiers Under Command'.

The Songs

My first approach to the album was a spot on review in an Argentinean cult magazine back in 1986. First impressions were the album cover: Rambo +Christian +Hair, and Michael Sweet's Dennis DeYoung on steroids like-vocals - plus a little bit of Rob Halford.

After a few spins, it becomes clear that 80's dual-guitar flashy playing, 50's pop patterns embedded in choir-gospel-like harmonies and thunderous drumming are the features of this LA-Metal classic.

The guitars sound sharp and sweet (no pun intended) just like a yellow and black bee (lol), not far from Dokken's George Lynch reverb-plus-delay fat sound, Van Halen, Ratt and hints of Judas Priest's dual attack.

The most perennial song is the classic title track, a metallic number displaying fiery vocals and traded leads courtesy of Michael Sweet and lead axeman Oz Fox - who actually shreds by always choosing the right notes.

The proud 'The Rock That Makes Me Roll' is their heaviest number here. I wonder whether it's actually about Jesus or Rolling Rock beer as I read somewhere else. It is closely followed in heaviness by the massive riff of 'Surrender' and its unbelievably catchy chorus:'So freely surrender, glorious stuff.

'Together Forever' is plagued with happy verses and prominent delicious 50's choir-like choruses; while the chugging, rocking 'Makes Me Wanna Sing' ends in an unbelievable beyond-human falsetto shriek.

At the risk of falling deep into guilty pleasure territory, I confess I actually like the mandatory 80's power ballad 'First Love' -I can hear traces of KISS' 'I Still Love You' in the arpeggios and the slightly tortured singing.

Another strong track is the beautiful soft piano-driven ballad 'Together As One', which has become over time a wedding song for more couples than you might actually guess.

AOR is well represented by the pair of 'Reach Out' and '(Waiting For) A Love That's Real', both packed with heavenly vocal harmonies. The album rounds out with a heavy version of the patriotic 'Battle Hymn Of The Republic' more suitable as an opener to these ears.

In Summary

Do you remember Hit Parader's February 1987 'Heaven and Hell' cover story (Stryper versus W.A.S.P.) or their bold gig at 1987's Dynamo Open Air Festival sharing the bill with Testament, Destruction and Atomkraft?

'Soldiers Under Command' and 1986's 'To Hell With The Devil' are my preferred doses of Stryper. Both are highly recommended additions to your 80's LA metal collection, gold-certified 'Soldiers..' being my personal favorite for sheer freshness and heaviness.

If you can bear with the (to some ears) girlish vocals and Christian-oriented lyrics, there's a lot to discover and enjoy in Stryper, a band on par with the best of 80's LA metal.

Video

Soldiers Under Command


The Rock That Makes Me Roll


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Comments

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    ExplorerExplorer England
    edited July 30

    Picked this up on vinyl today on my travels.Their best album....period.

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    gdazegodgdazegod Lostralia

    'Surrender' is one of the best songs ever written, the guitar solo is off the scale. :o

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    This is a great record!

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    edited August 1

    Ive got this on white vinyl. I'd agree with Malc's sentiment - I bought To Hell With the Devil but didn't get on with it and didn't bother after that. I did go and see them at Hammersmith though. Also have the Yellow and Black Attack on yellow vinyl.

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    gdazegodgdazegod Lostralia

    Nick, did you pick up a throwaway bible by any chance?

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    edited August 1

    No but one of my mates did, we travelled down together but he was in a different part of the venue. Chatting with Malc over the phone the other day and the subject of Stryper came up, he was there as well - a few seats away from me it would seem.
    I went down there with about 10 of my mates from the local rock club. On the way back the train broke down or had an extended stop in Stafford, we were there in the middle of the night so long I think we were getting the idea in our heads that we were going to end up living there by default! We talked about that more in the following years than the gig, which I remember being pretty good.

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