Stryper No More Hell to Pay

Stryper No More Hell to Pay
6
It's odd that Christian rockers Stryper drop a Doobie Brothers cover a mere four songs into this, their seventh full-length, but considering they placed a Boston cover as track three on their last studio album, 2009's Murder By Pride, maybe it makes sense. Well, no, it doesn't, but what has in the long and shaky career of Stryper? Here, the group do what hapless hair bands from the '80s think people still want to hear — no-fun, downtuned, grunge-ian riffing — to no success, but once the fun starts and the vocals begin wailing (Doobie Brothers cover for the former, title track for the latter), it works. Some tracks, like "Sticks and Stones," attempt to combine both, going nowhere. However, numbers like "Sympathy" are where these guys shine, with soaring vocals and melodies, while opener "Revelation," although bogged down by the aforementioned never-smile vibe, proves that beyond all the outrageous career moves, Stryper can write a good tune. The best thing about this album is the amazing drum sound, with both the hi-hat and bass drum coming through just perfectly, crashing, pushing and pounding — seriously, most metal bands would kill for a sound like this. This record exists in a specific hair band vacuum: connoisseurs will likely rate it high, where most people would go below average. I'll see you just above the middle, and a huge reason is that awesome drum sound. (Frontiers)