Stryper - 1988 In God We Trust

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ARTIST: Stryper
ALBUM: In God We Trust
LABEL: Enigma
SERIAL: D1-73317 (LP), D2-73317 (CD)
YEAR: 1988
CD REISSUE: 1991, Hollywood, HR-61186-2

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: image

LINEUP: Michael Sweet - vocals, guitars * Oz Fox - lead guitars, vocals * Brad Cobb - bass * Robert Sweet - drums, vocals

Additional Musicians: Billy Meyers - keyboards * John Van Tongeren - keyboards * Steve Croes - synclavier

TRACK LISTING: 01 In God We Trust * 02 Always There For You * 03 Keep The Fire Burning * 04 I Believe In You * 05 The Writings On The Wall * 06 It's Up To You * 07 The World Of You And I * 08 Come To The Everlife * 09 Lonely * 10 The Reign

WEBLINKS: Site Link

Background

Take away the obvious labels and classifications put on Stryper, the band is one of the most talented amongst the Christian etal bands.

While I personally prefer the AOR of Allies, Idle Cure or late 80's Petra, Stryper did however put out some pretty memorable platters in their day.

After several years converting audiences in the same early 80's L.A. metal scene that boasted the likes of Ratt, Dokken, Great White and W.A.S.P, Stryper eventually put out their first EP 'The Yellow and Black Attack' in 1984.

The full-length 'Soldiers Under Command' followed in 1985 and eventually went platinum. Stryper's third album would become they're most successful.

'To Hell With The Devil' released in late 1986 eventually sold more than 2 million copies and boasted the top 40 hit 'Honestly'.

Unfortunately by the release of 'In God We Trust' in 1988, critics had passed them off as latter-day Styx. It's hard not to compare 'In God We Trust' to it's predecessor as it closely follows the same tried and true formula.

Stryper fans criticized the songs here as being 'too commercial' and 'over-produced'. Maybe true but I find them to be the band's most consistent and at times best overall.

The Songs

If one were to judge the album on it's first three cuts, I could emphasize with some of the jabs.

'In God We Trust' kicks off with the hard hitting title track which delivers a strong melody and dynamic vocals from Michael Sweet. It's doomed however by it's cliche title and sappy lyrics.

Stryper shifts gears slightly with the radio friendly rocker 'Always There For You.' The songs only redeeming element is the infectious hook and sugar sweet melody.

The rockier 'Keep The Fire Burning,' kicks things up a notch with Sweet's vocals again as it's saving grace (sorry). Without, it's repetitious chorus is weaker than John Tesh on valium.

Stryper ballad's have always been their strong suit and 'I Believe In You' is perhaps they're finest. A beautiful song which blend Sweet's vocals with light keys, the song has garnered repeat listens from this reviewer for almost two decades.

Headbanging ensues with 'The Writings On The Wall', a powerful 80's metal anthem that proves how underrated Oz Fox is as a guitarist.

'It's Up To You' and 'The World Of You And I' continue to showcase Stryper's musicianship; the infectious hooks alone prove Stryper were light years beyond they're bible bashing counterparts.

Unfortunately 'Come To The Everlife' meanders a bit, but 'Lonely' saves us from an deviant slip in a fairly consistent slab. Another endearing ballad that once again showcases Michael's beautiful voice and the band's knack for well crafted songs.

If the album comes across at times to some as a 'lamb', the closer 'The Reign,' comes off as a raging 'lion' hopped up on crystal meth! Giving Christian counterparts like Bloodgood and Barren Cross a run for their money in terms of metallic ferocity.

In Summary

'In God We Trust' represents a little of everything Stryper had touched on previous efforts. From fist bangers like 'The Reign,' to the softer ballads 'I Believe In You.' Its hard to 'believe' true fans wouldn't 'forgive' them for their efforts here.

Eventually going Gold, the song 'Always There for You' briefly entered the lower regions of the pop charts. Many Christian and even metal fans claimed Stryper were not true men of faith as the image of the group had moved closer to the glam look of the late 80's.

These factors possibly led to lower sales, as the album spent only 5 weeks on the Billboard charts. As with 'To Hell With The Devil', bassist Tim Gaines did not participate in the recording of 'In God We Trust', but later rejoined for a world tour.

The group's next release 'Against The Law' was a return to a heavier sound and for more stones to be thrown. I believe it was more a shift in the music climate that it was not well received, then it was that Stryper shed it's 'Yellow and Black' and religious overtones completely.

The group's supposed hypocritical behind the scene rock and roll lifestyle is legendary but still up to speculation.

Overall, 'In God We Trust' is undoubtedly one of Stryper's best albums and is a definite must-hear for any fan of melodic metal.


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