Released By: Frontiers Records
Release Date: November 1, 2013 (Europe) November 5, 2013 (North America)
Genre: Hard Rock (Christian)
Michael Sweet – Lead Vocals/Lead Guitars
Robert Sweet – Drums and Visual Timekeeping
Timothy Gaines – Bass/Vocals
Oz Fox – Lead Guitar/Vocals
2. No More Hell To Pay
3. Saved By Love
4. Jesus Is Just Alright
5. The One
7. Marching Into Battle
8. Te Amo
9. Sticks & Stones
10. Water Into Wine
Stryper continues the Yellow & Black crusade with their eighth original studio album “No More Hell To Pay”. The melodic sensibility has always been a strength in the catalog along with traditional staples of vocals with the high end piercing screams, dueling guitars with harmony leads, tight vocal harmonies, endless hooks, and big choruses. This release contains all those traits. What’s a bit surprising is how heavy and raw it feels. It’s a darker album and more aggressive than previous efforts.
Two heavy hitters open the album, “Revelation” and the title track “No More Hell To Pay”. Both mid-tempo grinders that set the table for the albums darker approach. Tempo picks up with the rockers “Saved By Love” and the cover of “Jesus Is Just Alright”. Both groove with massive riffs and ripping guitar solos. The lone ballad on the record is “The One” and it’s a good one. Great feel through the verses with guitar tones that seem to play off Sweet’s emotional vocals.
The last seven tracks are rockers as the album sets a blistering trail. Starting with “Legacy”, loaded with its snarling vocal verses that drip with attitude. The anthem “Marching Into Battle” has a classic heavy metal driven riff that bleeds through the chant of the chorus. Another quick hitter with “Te Amo” leads into one of my favorites “Sticks And Stones”. Featuring one of the biggest hooks on the album and it seems to come out of nowhere. The verses are buried underneath a heavy groove with dark ominous riffs that seem determined to keep the atmosphere in the black. The chorus pops and it takes a completely different feel from the verses. With three tracks left, “Water Into Wine”, “Sympathy”, and “Renewed” I wouldn’t have been surprised if the album started to lose steam. However all three songs continue to pulse at a high rate and finish the album as strong as it began.
This offering is a big step forward from the last original release “Murder By Pride” in 2009. “No More Hell To Pay” is rich with classic metal riffs and hooks that hark back to Priest, Sabbath, and The Scorpions. Perhaps influenced by doing “The Covering” where they recorded classic songs by many of the forefathers of metal. They’ve taken that foundation and blended it with the Stryper sound and the results speak for themselves.
Written by JLK