Album of the Week 43-2015: Stryper – Fallen

Almost exactly two years ago, ‘No More Hell To Pay’ took me by surprise. I have always had great respect for Stryper as musicians – and Michael Sweet as a singer in particular – but none of the albums released since their reunion early this century as quite as consistent as that 2013 release. ‘Fallen’ is even better. It’s a strong melodic Hard Rock record like one has come to expect from the quartet, but the songwriting department hasn’t done this well of a job since ‘Against The Law’ or possibly even ‘Soldiers Under Command’.

While none of the songs here is as good as the near-perfect melodic Rocker ‘Sympathy’ from the previous record, ‘Fallen’ does avoid some of the pitfalls that ‘No More Hell To Pay’ did suffer from. The material on ‘Fallen’ is still mainly midtempo, but the band has managed to add a little more variation by giving the songs a little more of a recognizable face. Generally, it’s the riff work that does that. The Heavy Metal roots of the band really shine through in the riffs, turning many of the songs into a perfect blend of melodic Rock and Heavy Metal. And the album into a cornerstone of heavy Rock songwriting.

Opening track ‘Yahweh’ is the closest Stryper has ever gotten to an epic Heavy Metal song. Apart from the nice old school riffing, the song spots a surprising number of tempo changes. The choral vocals employed in the chorus are actually a trick that define many of the album’s more religiously laden choruses, such as ‘Heaven’ and ‘Let There Be Light’. Another notable progression is the fact that Michael Sweet once again outdoes himself. His voice just keeps getting better even at age 52 and ‘Fallen’ includes some of his rawest vocal work to date, check out ‘Pride’ (with its awesomely heavy, groovy riff) and the title track for the most obvious examples.

Guitar-wise, the album is simply a delight. Both Michael Sweet and Oz Fox lay down a surprisingly large number of amazing guitar solos and – as mentioned before – the riff work is exemplary. It’s the riffs that make songs like ‘The Calling’, ‘Big Screen Lies’, the powerful Rocker ‘Till I Get What I Need’, the vaguely Middle-Eastern sounding ‘Let There Be Light’ and the stately closer ‘King Of Kings’ so much more memorable than, let’s say, the title track of the previous record. Also, Robert Sweet’s snare drum still resonates too irritatingly loudly, but there’s definitely more variation in his rhythms this time around.

Sure, the secular fan base of the band – to which yours truly counts himself – may be put off by the lesser subtlety in the band’s christian message this time around, but the fact is that ‘Fallen’ is one of the best melodic Hard Rock albums of the last couple of years. The melodies are strong and the riffs and rhythms are muscular. Michael Sweet once again proves that he is one of the finest singers, songwriters and guitarists in the business and as such, his work deserves to be heard. End-of-year list material for sure.

Recommended tracks: ‘Pride’, ‘Till I Get What I Need’, ‘Yahweh’, ‘The Calling’

  1. Didn’t know they were still going – I’ll have to give this one a listen I think…

    • That’s exactly what I thought when ‘Murder By Pride’ came out six years ago. It seems like their songwriting is a bit more consistent these days as well. Strong melodic Hard Rock and the ballads are infinitely more bearable than ‘Honestly’.

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