Alright…You Picked It! And this one wasn’t really that close. After the first five picks were one for each artist, the winner took the early lead and never looked back. The winner this month is Stryper and their album ‘Against the Law’ which was one that was in my collection. I will be honest, this winner surprised me as I didn’t think they really had a chance, but boy was I wrong. Here are the results.
- Stryper – ‘Against the Law’ – 7 votes
- David Bowie – ‘Let’s Dance’ – 5 votes
- The Band – ‘The Band’ – 3 votes
- Dusty Springfield – ‘Dusty in Memphis’ – 2 votes
- The Darkness – ‘Motorheart’ – 1 Vote
Thanks to all for participating. The January choices will be up on Saturday!
STRYPER – ‘AGAINST THE LAW’:
I remember when this album came out. It was a drastic change for the band. The Yellow and Black costumes they wore were gone and everything was black leather. The religious themes and any mention of God were gone. Stryper as we knew them were gone. Due to the constant criticism of from the religious critics, Stryper had grown weary of the music business and the Christian themes. They had become angry and a little resentful at the constant bashing. So, they threw religion to the side and went heavier and darker in both sound and lyrics.
Looking back at this album today, Michael Sweet says this is his least favorite album the band has done for all the reasons I mentioned above. Because they lost the true meaning behind why Stryper was who they were, he doesn’t like this album at all. Me, I find this to quite possibly be the best Stryper album they have ever done. The production is top notch, the band is heavy as hell and it isn’t drenched in a lot of the cheesy Christian lyrics that religious songs can have. Don’t get me wrong, I liked the religious Stryper, but I found this to be more authentic and real, if that makes sense. And one cool fact is the background vocals were by none other than the great Jeff Scott Soto whose Review Series starts January 3rd (Shameless Plug!!!)
The opening track is the title track, “Against the Law”. It starts off a little bluesy, but is mostly a straight-up rock & roll track. The song is blatant attack on the Christian Music critics and shows the anger and bitter resentment of the band. Robert Sweet’s drums are just banging and his sound is so immense on this album. Another thing is the bass is pretty prominent as well from Tim Gaines. And don’t forget that guitar sound from both Michael Sweet and Oz Fox it is incredible. Lastly, towards the end there is a massive scream from Michael Sweet that is one of the great screams in rock. This is a strong opening track and rather bold statement and middle finger to everyone that has bashed the band.
Next up is “Two Time Woman” is another uptempo rocker with more powerful drums as is the theme on the sound for this album. The song is melodic and Michael’s voice is better than ever. The backing vocals on this one are great on the chorus so thanks Jeff!! The slide guitar solo on this is pretty cool and helps make the song along with those screams from Michael.
“Rock the People” is a rock anthem just like you’d hear up and down the Sunset Strip in the 80’s. It is isn’t a heavy or uptempo as the first two tracks, but still a decent enough track. I would say it is actually one of the weaker songs of the bunch but no way I’m going to skip it. The guitar solo is the crowning achievement of this song. I am assuming Oz Fox, but I don’t really know because according to Michael Sweet he has done a bunch of solos on their albums (but maybe that is the later albums, I don’t know).
“Two Bodies (One Mind One Soul)” starts off and I thought I was getting the first ballad on the album but no, another screaming rocker. I like how after one of the choruses, Michael has this one long note that as it fades out the guitar solo fades in, it is a pretty cool transition. One of the many great parts of this song. This is one of my favorites as it is a powerful song that really showcases Michael’s vocals which I was the main reason I was a fan because the things he can do are pretty cool. The bass on this one by Tim, is really great as well and I love how much the bass is pushed to the front more than any other of their albums at this time.
Then we get a fun rocking track called “Not That Kind of Guy”. It reminds you of Van Halen’s “Hot for Teacher” especially in that Robert Sweet drumming. Give it a listen and tell me I’m wrong wrong. Robert totally nails it. Lyrically, it isn’t going to win any awards, but it is still a mindless fun track that musically kicks total ass especially with the drumming and that wicked guitar solo. One of the coolest on the album.
Totally out of left field comes a cover of Earth, Wind & Fire’s “Shining Star” which is totally nuts. And let me tell you, it is so awesome at the same time. They even got Randy Jackson to play bass on it and he freaking funks the hell out of this song. It is a heavy metal funk song now. Backing vocals are a standout and I think I hear Jeff in this one too. Such a strange choice for a cover, but so, so cool! Crank the hell out of this one.
“Ordinary Man” is up next and opens with a total sleaze rock guitar riff. Total 80’s rock guitar work throughout and Michael’s delivery of the verses is a little different, but that chorus is so catchy and will reel you right in. Another incredible, hard rock song that needs to be heard blasting through the speakers at 11.
We finally get a power ballad with “Lady” and what a great one it is. It opens with acoustic guitars and then the drums and electric guitar come in but softly and at a slowed down tempo. Michael softens his vocals and tries to give it a little edge. This one should’ve been bigger than it was as it is just as good as anything else out there at the time. It tugs at the heart strings like a good power ballad should and it has that great solo that they should have as well. It is as good as it gets.
“Caught in the Middle” might be the only song on the album that has any resemblance to Stryper of old and could’ve fit on ‘To Hell With The Devil’. It is another rocker and has those trademark Michael screams. The background vocals on this are big and I definitely hear Soto on this one (sorry, I have to keep pointing that out). Also, this is another song where Robert’s drums are pounding throughout and his drumming might be the best thing on this album….that and all the killer guitar solos as there is one in every song and every one is killer.
“All For One” goes back to the new sound of Stryper, hard, heavy and much darker in style. I can hear the double bass kick drum on this one. The song is a rock anthem as that chorus has so many layers upon layers of vocals that would sound great if they played live and the audience was singing along. Although they might have dropped the Christian themes, they still can keep it positive with some great messages.
The album closes with a song that borders the edges of speed metal with “Rock the Hell Out of You”. It will blow your speakers out and shred your ear drums. It also feels a little Priest-like in its sound. Michael’s vocals are full on screaming and I swear it is Halford on some of those. A total beast of a song and damn what a way to close the album. I can tell you, I think Hell has been rocked out of me after this one!!
And there you have it. This for me is quite possibly the best Stryper album they have ever done. Michael Sweet can hate it for the band going against their Christian themes and their Yellow & Black color scheme, but to me it is the most rocking album they have ever done. Robert Sweet’s drumming was probably the best sounding on any record. I loved the way that Tim Gaines bass was a big focus. The guitar solos and riffs by Michael and Oz Fox were some of the best they have done as they sounded so immense. And then Michael sounded like a man on a mission to prove to the world that Stryper could truly rock and they proved that and then some. My Overall Score is a Solid 5.0 out of 5.0 Stars!! It don’t get much better than this.