Released by: Frontiers Records
Release Date: September 4th, 2020
Michael Sweet – Lead Vocals/Lead & Rhythm Guitar
Robert Sweet – Drums & Percussion
Oz Fox – Vocals/Lead and Rhythm Guitar
Perry Richardson – Vocals/Bass
Paul McNamara – Organ, Keys, Moog
Additional Background Vocals: Keith Pittman
Blood From Above
Make Love Great Again
Let Him In
Do Unto Others
Even The Devil Believes
How To Fly
This I Pray
For God & Rock ‘N’ Roll
Middle Finger Messiah
After being blown away by Stryper’s 2018 release, God Damn Evil, and reading the band member’s comments about how their new release, Even the Devil Believes was going to be their best work yet, I was excited. And for good reason. This album has the best guitar work I’ve ever heard on a Stryper album. Both Michael Sweet and Oz Fox delivers a masterpiece throughout it as they have always split guitar solos, this piece of work may be their best in terms of technical prowess.
Right out of the gate, the song Blood From Above takes you back to the Against the Law album, then puts the pedal to the metal. But before the dust settles, you’re slammed into the slower-paced but equally, heavy Make Love Great Again, and are treated to a sweet guitar harmony intro. Speaking of harmony, this album is full of vocal harmony, as are all Stryper albums, but the addition of Perry Richardson gives the vocal harmonies something more that wasn’t ever there before. The bass guitar seems to have a lot more meat as well. Not to mention Michael Sweet’s voice. It gets better with age. He can still hit the stratosphere with full power as he did in the ’80s.
While the album is mostly heavy, it does have a couple of slow-paced songs like How to Fly which is probably the most commercial song on the album, with the Stryper trademark flowing chorus. The lone ballad on the 11 song album, This I Pray has a southern rock feel to it. A sound we’ve never heard from the band before.
That’s another thing. There are guitar parts that I’d call ‘experimental.’ The heaviest track, Middle Finger Messiah has blistering rhythms throughout the song. But the bridge has some strange sounding progressions that had the feel of a Steve Vai song. Their experiments paid off in my opinion. The album also has a few anthem type songs, like For God, Rock, and Roll. Invitation Only has a chorus that flows up and down in harmony, accompanied by a synth sounding lead over it. The song Do Unto Others has in my opinion, the best solo that Michael Sweet has ever recorded. It’s not blistering fast, but the technique made me, as a guitarist drool.
One thing that is also a constant on Even the Devil Believes is Robert Sweet’s drumming. As much as this album is a masterpiece for both Michael Sweet and Oz Fox’s guitar as well as Michaels vocals, Robert Sweet has turned in probably the best performance on the drums that I’ve ever heard from him, which is saying a lot.
Experimental. Technical. Heavy. Perfect. Those are 4 adjectives that I’d use to describe this album. It was not what I was expecting. I was expecting a musical followup to God Damn Evil. Instead, I got a lesson in what amazing guitar playing and singing sounds like. All 4 members stepped up their game. They are now on a higher level than they’ve ever been, and I’m blown away. I’d compare my reaction to Even the Devil Believes to my reaction to Judas Priest the first time I heard Painkiller. Stunned, Shocked, maybe even a little intimidated but in a good way. 5 of 5 stars from me. Get this album. Now!
Written by: Bill Selby