Since the release of their eighth studio album “Murder By Pride” in 2009, Stryper – the kings of Christian metal – have been teasing their fans about bringing out new material. Their ninth release “The Covering” featured a wide range of classic rock cover songs that inspired the band over the years, as well as a brand new original track. Now with their tenth release “Second Coming”, the boys are still keeping their yellow and black soldiers on the edge of their seats (myself included) by releasing an album featuring re-recordings of their classic hits, as well as two brand new tracks. Although I was excited about this new release, I was pretty sceptical over the band’s decision to do an album based on re-recordings, especially after seeing the track listing.
The album kicks in with an outstanding version of “Loud ‘N’ Clear”, from their first album “Yellow and Black Attack”. A truly fitting start to the album, which demonstrated the vastly improved sound quality – louder and clearer! However only choosing two tracks off the classic album (“Loving You” being the other track used) was the first disappointment I had with this album as there were a number of classics which I believe deserved a “second coming”.
We now move onto the “Soldiers Under Command” section of the album. In my own opinion, between the 3 album choices featured here “Soldiers” was probably Stryper’s best album due to its amazing sound, not to mention being full of head-down numbers. However, I was completely blown away by the sheer power which was coming from the tracks “Soldiers Under Command”, “The Rock That Makes Me Roll” and “Surrender”. The band’s choice to not re-record their classic 1987 single “Honestly” was probably the best choice to make for this album, especially after hearing the brand new version of “First Love” which is just bursting with power and passion that shines strongly through the voice of lead vocalist Michael Sweet.
The “To Hell With The Devil” section is the penultimate part of the album and to me it was the weakest part. You can almost hear the band’s struggle within the new versions of “To Hell With The Devil”, “Calling On You” and “Sing Along Song” when compared with the original recordings. It seemed to me that within the new productions the songs seemed to lose the atmospheric 80’s glam metal sound which made the originals so memorable. However, these let downs were easily compensated for as the band really let loose for “Free”, “The Way” and “More Than Man” which finished off the re-recordings section of the album.
The album finishes off with two brand new songs, “Bleeding From Inside Out” and “Blackened”. “Bleeding” was released as a single and is carried by a punchy groove, while “Blackened” has that classic Stryper sound filled with strong guitar riffs, choralist harmonies and high pitched screaming. After listening to these two pieces it was plain to hear that “Blackened” deserved to be released as a single.
Stryper’s production has always been a key feature within their more recent albums and it still shines through stronger than ever in this new piece. However, what disappointed me is the song choice. I completely understand that the band has had a lot of songs to choose from to fit onto one disc, but I feel that the selection could have been improved. One thing I did love about this album is how the band experimented with the arrangement of a number of the featured songs.
Though this album did hold a number of disappointments for me, it has been interesting to hear all the classic Stryper hits revisited. On the 2nd of April the band are set to begin recording a new album which is filled with 100% original songs, and as I, and many other fans, wait patiently for it, “Second Coming” will definitely help fill the void.
1. Loud ‘N’ Clear
2. Loving You
3. Soldiers under Command
4. Makes Me Wanna Sing
5. First Love
6. The Rock That Makes Me Roll
7. Reach Out
9. To Hell With The Devil
10. Calling On You
12. The Way
13. Sing Along Song
14. More Than A Man
15. Bleeding From Inside
Michael Sweet – Lead Vocals/Lead Guitar
Oz Fox – Lead Guitar/Backing Vocals
Tim Gaines – Bass Guitar/Backing Vocals
Robert Sweet – Drums
Released through Frontier Records on the 26th March 2013.