Sound — 8
Stryper have been delivering their unique form of heavy metal for over three decades now. Their instantly recognizable vocal harmonies and guitar melodies, infused with the group's personal religious beliefs made Stryper the first overtly Christian metal band to be accepted into the mainstream. While Stryper released their debut studio album "The Yellow and Black Attack" back in 1983, the band hit their real stride following the release of their iconic album "To Hell With the Devil." This album changed the way we all looked at Christian music, and has since set the standard by which all other groups who fall under the same metal subgenre are judged. Such songs as "Honestly," "Calling on You" and "Free" climbed the charts, and boasted all of the qualities which have since become synonymous with Stryper's music: heavily distorted guitar, harmonious backup vocal melodies, and the broad vocal range of frontman Michael Sweet. "To Hell With the Devil" proved to be the most successful period of Stryper's history, but it didn't just end there. Since the band's formation thirty years ago, Stryper has released a now grand total of eleven studio albums, all of which are filled to the brim with the group's signature qualities: and when it comes to their new album, "No More Hell to Pay," it's no exception. Their first effort comprised of all new recordings since 2009's "Murder by Pride," and Stryper are back and as strong as ever. No matter where you set the needle on the record, you will be met with prime anthems which all sound as though they are lost recordings from the "To Hell With the Devil" sessions. "Revelation" and the album's title track are undoubtedly Stryper songs, with showcase the instantly recognizable dual guitar work of Oz Fox and Michael Sweet. The later of the two includes some familiar, high pitched primal screams from Sweet, which attributes even more to the nostalgic listening experience. "Marching Into Battle" is comprised of a crunching, rhythm guitar beat and a commanding percussion section, appropriate considering the song title. Similar to Stryper's 2011 studio album, "The Covering," "No More Hell to Pay" also includes a cover song, and this time it's the gospel classic "Jesus Is Just Alright." This song allows the members of Stryper to take charge and put their vocal melodies to good use, and features yet another standout guitar solo.
Lyrics — 8
Lead vocalist Michael Sweet is in top form all throughout Stryper's new effort. For someone who has been issuing piercing primal screams for three decades, his voice is in surprisingly excellent shape. He can still hit those same high notes with apparent ease, drop down to a relatively low pitch during the verse of "Jesus Is Just Alright," and still jump back in with Oz Fox and bassist Tim Gaines for their definitive group vocal melodies. It's important to note that while the band made their own personal beliefs apparent in their lyrics, Stryper never made them overly apparent to the point that they consumed the actual song. When it comes to "No More Hell to Pay," the lyrical content is no different.
Overall Impression — 8
Stryper execute an applaudable performance with their new studio album, "No More Hell to Pay." Each song within this twelve track collection is standout, and could easily fit right at home amongst earlier selections from the band's catalog on a "Greatest Hits" release. To any established fan of Stryper's earlier efforts, this is one album that you can't afford to miss out on.