Originally published in “The Nashville Hype” by Paul King
If there’s one thing I know for certain, it’s this: Stryper will always ROCK in my book.
I was one of those kids with parents who went off the deep end religiously and essentially banned all music that wasn’t “Christian” in the home – noble to be sure – ridiculous in a practical manner.
True Story: I loved KISS from the moment I heard them, and up until the time some random missionary preacher came around saying KISS were “Kings In Satan’s Service” and Desmond Child (the famous songwriter) was really ‘Demon Child’, Satan’s own spawn on earth renamed “Gene Simmons”, my dad was cool enough to buy me all the KISS albums and cards and posters and stuff. The preacher was just trying to ‘save the kids’ from the evils rock-n-roll. Not long after that traveling preacher came though, all my KISS stuff was ripped off my walls and burned (along with Alice Cooper and Ted Nugent) because that’s what he told parents they needed to do with this evil – which virtually assured my soul for the devil because I wanted to murder someone after that!
Needless to say musically, my home sucked raw eggs there after.
Carmen, who was fine for what he was, was not what I wanted to hear. Petra were okay, and Bob was a great guitar player, but they got wrapped up in the wussy keyboard sounds of Degarmo & Key (who for one brief moment I thought I liked), so they pretty much ended up sucking too. It wasn’t until KANSAS somehow were branded “Christian” enough to be accepted at Christian roller-skate night that I was able to hear something I thought was even remotely worth a damn musically – “Carry On Wayward Son” was played in my room over, and over, and over (no, I’m not making any of this up – and I mustn’t forget the Rez Band which, to this day because of the recording techniques and guitar tones and rock attitude of laying it all on the line, rule. ‘Awaiting Your Reply’ is still very solid all around).
Then out of no where came Stryper. Thank GOD for Stryper. I was freakin’ going insane with the crap my parents were forcing me to listen to.
Look, I’m not going ot start a sermon here, but I’m just going to tell you parents who are Christians, who are raising boys — society has sissy-fied boys to the point they might as well be raising all little girls. Christianity is so full of ‘meekness’ and ‘sacrifice’ and ‘humble’ they forgot how to raise men — so I’m telling you – boys are meant to play with toy trucks, tear up everything they get their hands on, be aggresive, and ROCK — and if you’re having your kids growing up listening to watered down Kenny G (Christian music is full of that crap), you’re going to be in trouble. Throw a dress on the kid and get it over with (BTW, I always found it funny that Jesus could get so ticked off he destroyed half a city block, but if a kid showed the smallest amount of aggression because of the great rock music he was listening to he needed a Paxil to calm him down – or Jesus). Okay, that’s the end of my rant on that. But it makes my point:
I am a Stryper kid. An aggressive, head banging, fist in the air rock-n-roll boy. I didn’t like all the Michael W. Smith “Friends of friends are friends cause that’s how you become friends and can’t we all just get along and be friends” girly crap Christian music — and what some random traveling preacher stole, Stryper returned. Rock and Metal once again filled my speakers and I’m sorry to say so bluntly, but here we go, I got my balls back! I could Rock again. Game on!
And man, were my parents pissed that the lyrics were ‘clean’. Oh, they just couldn’t STAND that Stryper was preaching the same gospel they were. Doing research for this review I came across this video which tells about those times back then – and this was really how it was, I lived this — my brother and I could be one of these poor idiot kids interviewed in this video (and I didn’t know Pastor Chuck even existed back then, but when I found this video it dawned on me why I felt SO at home in a Calvary Chapel church – they ‘got’ it even then and they still ‘get’ it).
So, how much more pissed would my parents be now to know that Stryper has gone where no other Christian band has gone – to the roots of heavy metal and the songs that every Christian kid grew up with, even if their parents didn’t know it – for an album full of great covers?
I’ll tell you how, they wouldn’t care. Because just like everyone else that grew up during those highly ridiculous times in religious history, even my parents, after the divorce and affairs and the cheating and all that, lost their sanctimonious right to look down on everyone around them and had to accept the fact they they were human too, who like everyone, only made it by with the Grace of God. “Stryper covering KISS? Oh, that’s nice honey. Go play with your friends.” “Stryper is having Eddie over to play? Iron Maiden you say? That’s good, just don’t get hurt.” Such is life for anyone who survived those years of sheer stupidity and hypocrisy.
So the rumors are true – Stryper has done what every single Christian kid who was raised in an over-bearing Christian household always wished they would do — Stick it to our parents by covering great songs by great artist we always loved but couldn’t listen to openly. What they should get for it is an album that’s 4 times platinum in America and 3 times platinum in the rest of the world and all the praise and record sales they can stand. Stryper has done it again – they have returned rock and metal to the masses and I’m just going to lay it on the line — they’ve never sounded so good.
That doesn’t stop the idiot ‘Christian’ police from questioning their belief. Even today we have so-called preachers who make a living scaring the beJesus out of duped parents who can’t see that really all the preacher wants is their money. It’s a fight over money! And it’s straight from the Saul Alinsky playbook – Find a target, focus on it, criticize it, and extort money to ‘fight’ it. But pressure is still pressure and it’s for this reason the guys say they felt compelled to add at least one original Christian tune to the record – thankfully, it rocks just as hard as the rest of the record – so it’s not so bad. And besides, Stryper IS a Christian band (even if they are still trying to prove their salvation to others nealy 30 years later).
Bottom line – 2011 should be the year of Stryper. Releasing an album like this is the smartest thing I’ve seen a band do in a long, long time. It keeps them fresh, relevant, respected among peers, and rocking the world another year. Brilliant.
‘The Covering’ covers a lot of great music – and I’m telling you right now, it does not disappoint. I mean, these guys are tighter than they’ve ever been – Tim Gaines is back in the band rocking the bass, Michael Sweet‘s voice strangely improves with age (how he could get any better defies logic, but there ya go), Oz Fox is still just flat out amazing on lead guitar (I wanted to be that dude!), and Robert Sweet‘s opening on “Over The Mountain” leaves little question to how good he remains as the drummer.
You know these songs, so I’m not going to go through a track by track listing. You just need to know they’ve respected these songs, respected their original creators, and respected themselves by literally turning out one of the finest pieces of recorded heavy metal and rock music in years. You just need to buy this album, period.
It’s a loud album – makes you feel like you’re being punched in the face repeatedly, but in a good way. If we had a star system that went to 10 I’d give it an 11, and tell you that’s the level you need to turn it up to as well.
And a couple more things – Rob Halford commented on this album, and if anyone in Rock should be trusted to know what he’s talking about it should be that dude – and he has this to say:
And last – Stryper will be coming to Nashville March 18th, 2011 to the Wildhorse Saloon. The last time they played there they completely sold out the venue – so if you’re planning on going, get your tickets early. They’re going to be doing these songs as well as several Stryper classics we’ve all come to know and love. Rock on.
The Covering – Album
Judas Priest – Breaking The Law
Iron Maiden – The Trooper
Scorpions – Blackout
Ozzy Osbourne – Over The Mountain
Sweet – Set Me Free
Van Halen – On Fire
Deep Purple – Highway Star
Black Sabbath – Heaven & Hell
UFO – Lights Out
Kansas – Carry On Wayward Son
Kiss – Shout It Out Loud
Led Zepplin – Immigrant Song
Stryper – God