Since Stryper‘s inception in 1983, they have been the front runners in all things Christian metal. However, the band themselves have recently professed that they don’t want to be branded with that moniker, on the grounds that would keep both their message and their music from reaching a larger audience.
Regardless, whether Christian metal or agnostic metal fans were exposed to their latest release, ‘Fallen,’ they could still appreciate the work put into this disc.
‘Fallen’ is an ideally balanced collection of twelve songs that continue to follow Stryper’s trademark style: the dual guitars of Michael Sweet and Oz Fox, the smooth but powerful bass lines of Tim Gaines, and the perfect timekeeping of Robert Sweet on drums.
Starting off with the opening track, “Yahweh,” Stryper combines the portrayal of the Crucifixion with a guitar riff that takes inspiration from Black Sabbath‘s “Children of the Grave.” This track sets the bar for the entire disc. Next is the title track, “Fallen”; it follows a path of duality, as a metaphor for the fall of man, and the fall of modern man’s place in society. The stand out moments in this song are Sweet’s uncharacteristic choices of screaming through his vocals, especially in the chorus.
The third track, “Pride,” is one of the most aggressive songs on the entire release. It’s inherent aggression separates it from the signature sound that many fans are familiar with. “Big Screen Lies” uses clever exposition to describe how the subject of Christianity is portrayed in modern media. It is full of hooks, and is very easy for the listener to latch on to. “Heaven,” frankly, is a profession of faith that is punctuated by a classic Gaines bass riff. This track could have just as easily been found on an album like “To Hell With the Devil,” considering the resemblance to that era’s vibe.
“Love You Like I Do” is an uptempo ballad, almost in the vein of 80’s era Dokken. Even the guitar solo in this ballad seems to have been inspired by Michael Sweet’s recent collaboration with guitar legend George Lynch. Continuing along those lines, “All Over Again” is an acoustic gem that pays homage to great power ballads of the 1980’s. The album quickly changes tone when it continues on to “After Forever,” a rendition of the classic Black Sabbath tune. It’s a faithful cover of the original, complete with Gaines’s flawless rendition of Geezer Butler‘s timeless bass line.
“Till I Get What I Need” is an interesting little side trip into the history of lead singer Michael Sweet, which in and of itself is a departure from what Stryper often does lyrically. “Let There Be Light” is what Stryper is best known for: an ultra heavy guitar riff that accompanies the opening verses of Genesis. It has an uplifting quality, despite the darker guitar tones that give it depth.
“The Calling” is just that: a call to faith and arms, the quintessential message in all of Stryper’s albums. Finally, “Fallen” concludes with “King of Kings”, which has a ‘Soldiers Under Command’ intensity that brings the entire album full circle. After 32 years, Stryper certainly shows no signs of stopping, with both their passion and faith driving their music and message.