Stryper - Fallen // Via Frontiers - 9/10
When the opportunity came to review Fallen, I was a little dismissive regarding Stryper in the 21st century, to say the least, due to having been a big fan back in the 80's.
Honestly, I was slightly disappointed in the album 'Against The Law' and very disappointed in the releases since their rebirth back in 2005. I found them to be seemingly disjointed and lacking direction. Their last release 'No More Hell To Pay' was a very dark album and, again, one I couldn't really bond with.
While I wasn't expecting a throwback to the Soldiers/Hell With The Devil era, I also wasn't expecting such a marked improvement in the offering before me.
Fallen’s opener 'Yahweh' has all the characteristics and ingredients of a classic Stryper opening track, from the yellow and black pack. Full of atmosphere and big gutsy guitar work from Oz Fox, with Michael Sweet in full flow showing us that after all this time, the guy still has an amazing voice, reaching notes of the highest range effortlessly.
Second and third songs ‘Fallen’ and ‘Pride’ respectively give us the follow-up uppercut and knockout blow to 'Yahweh', with the best twin guitar attack I have heard since Mr Tipton and Downing. While 'Pride' is probably the dirtiest, sleaziest sounding I have ever heard Stryper, and you know what... it suits them!
There are nods to the past glories, especially with their best cover artwork in recent releases and definitely a tip of the hat to 'Hell With The Devil' album, and, musically, none reflect this more so than 'Love You Like I do', instantly transporting you back to the heady days of the sunset strip with its massive hooks and huge layered backing vocals in the chorus. I found myself singing along loudly while driving and attempting to emulate Oz Fox in the guitar solo on the steering wheel!
When a lot of bands from that era are rehashing their old sound, it is great to see that Stryper are not, this is a modern sounding album which is full of surprises, even to the point of a version of the Sabbath song 'After Forever'.
By the time I got half way through the twelve tracks I had already decided this was something special. It just grabbed me from the opening number and if I had one small criticism it would be that the latter part of the album started to blend one song into the next, which is more down to the running order than poor songs, but then along came track eleven, 'The Calling' which pulled me right back in again.
Yes, the album is drenched in religious lyrics and messages, but if that's not for you, look past it and just listen to the songs as they stand. Don't be put off by Stryper’s past and the yellow and black gimmick that came years ago - they have a big sound, very similar to some popular all-euro power metal. Fans should really give this a go.
To the old diehard Stryper fans, the band have come back with a monster, fusing all the melodic greatness with a modern 21st century sound to give us their strongest album since 'In God We Trust'.
4. Big Screen Lies
6. Love Like I Do
7. All Over Again
8. After Forever
9. Till I Get What I Need
10. Let There Be Light
11. The Calling
12. King Of Kings
Reviewer: Darren Griffiths