• Reborn passion for heavy metal - A review of Stryper's ''Fallen''

    Stryper - Fallen (2015)

    Christian heavy metal band Stryper has been spreading its message of salvation for far over three decades and continues to do so with its solid tenth full length studio record ''Fallen''. Just a look at the cover artwork, the song titles and the legacy of the band reveal that this entire album deals with Christian beliefs. Even though I'm not a deeply religious person, I have no problem with a band spreading its positive message of hope and peace. Despite the band's particular and somewhat limited lyrics, this album is also extremely enjoyable for any fan of traditional heavy metal and hard rock who simply wants to hear liberating and majestic music.

    ''Yahweh'' is not only a perfect opener but also the best song on the record. It's epic and majestic from start to finish. The song opens with heavenly choirs before powerful and unchained vocals kick in that still sound fresh and juvenile after so many years. The track features mid-paced traditional heavy metal riffs but also a few faster parts that recall early power metal elements. The guitar melodies are harmonious and uplifting while the vivid rhythm section is really groovy and tight. Bands like Manowar wish they could write this type of epic heavy metal anthem nowadays.

    The album features some more outstanding heavy metal tracks. The mid-paced heavy metal title track ''Fallen'' recalls the works of Dio and Jorn with tight verses and an uplifting chorus with high-pitched vocals. The guitar solos also have an old school vibe and underline the fact that this is Stryper's heaviest record in a long time. 

    Album closer ''King of Kings'' is not a far call from traditional Judas Priest and a great heavy metal tune with a plodding yet memorable larger-than-life chorus. This song ends a really great record on a strong note and Stryper manages to open and close its output with two of its greatest tunes ever written.

    The other songs are not as heavy but still really solid tunes somewhere between hard rock and heavy metal in the key of the eighties without sounding too conservative. Many tracks recall bands such as Def Leppard, Dokken or Whitesnake to give you a more precise idea. What really stands out about most songs are the inredibly catchy choruses and the juvenile spirit in songs like the addicting ''Big Screen Lies''. 

    The only song that has a softer sound is the acoustic rock track ''All Over Again'' that has a slight country ballad touch. It's the kind of song to be played and sung around a campfire and makes me think of a band like Mr. Big. It's not exactly my type of song but it's well executed and offers a pleasant change of sound in the context of this hard rocking record.

    Another song that really stands out is the absolutely stunning cover of Black Sabbath's classic ''After Forever'' that also features religiously inspired lyrics. I'm a fan of this legendary heavy metal band and adore the original tune but this version is an improvement over an already inspiring track. First of all, the heavy guitar riffs and the tight drumming are even heavier than the original thanks to gifted musicianship and a crystal clear production. The vocals are even more liberating and passionate than the charismatic original performance and even add a few powerful screams here and there. The track is also slightly longer than the original and expands a few instrumental parts in an epic way without any unnecessary lengths. This song stands exemplary for Stryper's reborn passion for heavy metal.

    In the end, this is the first full length album of the band I bought after hearing several promising snippets and this release immediately made me a fan of Stryper's passionate musicianship and positive message even though religion isn't an essential part of my life. Anybody who is looking for an energizing traditional heavy metal record should buy this album.

    Final rating: 8,5/10

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