Stryper is currently touring in support of the 30th Anniversary of their break-through album ‘To Hell With the Devil’. The album was released back on October 24, 1986 and became the first Christian Metal album to go platinum. It was the best selling Christian metal album all the way up to 2001 when P.O.D. outsold it with their album ‘Satellite’ (another great album).
The videos for the album were on regular rotation on MTV which was so unusual for a band that was labeled as Christian. They actually made it cool to listen to music about Christ. They are the reason why I still listen to Christian music today (well Christ has a lot to do with it too). Most Christian music was fairly boring and somewhat cheesy. But not Stryper. They had screaming guitars, pounding drums, deep bass and soaring vocals. Perfect for the so called Glam era that was overtaking the radios at the time.
The band had its own gimmicks. The hair of course…wow!! The hairspray bill alone must of have been outrageous. The most memorable was them wearing the yellow & black leather outfits during their shows (which they will don again during their anniversary tour for the album). The band also handed out bibles to the crowd (I never got one). I did see them live on their tour in support of the next album ‘In God We Trust’, but was not close enough to get a bible.
The album had two different covers. The first cover was considered controversial for some strange reason. It was four long-haired angels throwing the devil into a fiery pit. I am not sure what was so controversial about it, but it was. They changed the cover to the all black with the bands logo and album title. It is a nice album cover, but the first one was cooler.
The album opens with the eerie instrumental “Abyss”. It is such a dark, foreboding song that had you wondering where this album was going to take you. The song ends and kicks into the title song and my favorite “To Hell With the Devil”. The song is heavy, loud and a monster of a song and is Stryper at their best.
The first single off the album was “Calling On You”. This was the song that introduced me to the band (thanks to MTV). Michael Sweet’s vocals were amazing and the man could hit some high notes.
The 2nd single was “Free”. It was more of a rocker and more what I prefer to hear from the band. The band was great with ballads, but the harder songs were better.
The highest charting and final single from the album was “Honestly”. It was a pure power ballad for the time and went as high as #23 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. The video was #1 on Dial MTV.
Heavy is what I like from this band and there are a few more on the album that give you that and more. “The Way” opens with some fast finger work on the guitar and then some hard hitting drums and then those amazing vocals. The other heavy songs are “Rockin’ the World” and “More Than a Man”.
The song “Sing-Along Song” starts off a little heavy, but turns a little corny with the whole everyone sing along part to it. Musically the song sounds great and the vocals are spot on, I just didn’t care too much for it.
The remainder of the album are “Holding On” which is more a pop song and then there is the over-the-top power ballad “All of Me”. Michael’s voice stays so high the whole time and it is just way too sugary-sweet. There are power ballads and there ballads that take all the power out of it and that is this song.
Overall, “To Hell With the Devil” is a great album and so worth having in your collection. This album made me a lifelong fan of the band and I have gotten everything they have put out ever since and will continue to do so. Their newer stuff is so much harder and heavier than this if you want to go check that out as well.
- Michael Sweet – Vocals & Guitar
- Robert Sweet – Drums
- Oz Fox – Guitar
- Tim Gaines – Bass / Keyboards
- “Abyss (To Hell with the Devil)”
- “To Hell with the Devil”
- “Calling on You”
- “The Way”
- “Sing-Along Song”
- “Holding On”
- “Rockin’ the World”
- “All of Me”
- “More Than a Man”
The band is about half way through their tour and below are the remaining dates. I missed them when they came through Charlotte on October 4th and very disappointed that I didn’t get to go see it, but don’t you miss out if they are coming to your town.
Oct. 26 – Denver, CO – Summit Music Hall
Oct. 28 – Omaha, NE – Sokol Underground
Oct. 31 – Chicago, IL – House of Blues
Nov. 02 – Minneapolis, MN – Cabooze
Nov. 04 – Peoria, IL – Limelight Eventplex
Nov. 05 – Hazard, KY – The Forum
Nov. 06 – Louisville, KY – Mercury Ballroom
Nov. 08 – St. Louis, MO – The Ready Room
Nov. 09 – Nashville, TN – [venue to be announced]
Nov. 11 – Grand Rapids, MI – Intersection
Nov. 12 – Cleveland, OH – Agora Theater
Nov. 13 – Columbus, OH – Alrosa Villa
Nov. 16 – Detroit, MI – St. Andrews Hall
Nov. 19 – Asbury Park, NJ – The Stone Pony
Nov. 20 – New York, NY – Gramercy Theatre
Nov. 21 – Raleigh, NC – City Limits Saloon