Stryper: No More Hell to Pay review

Quintessential Christian rockers Stryper have had a long and illustrious career spanning 30 years, during which time they have sold over 10 million albums worldwide, won a Dove award, garnered a Grammy nomination and had three hit singles and videos from their smash breakthrough album To Hell With The Devil.

The band was known for their yellow and black stripes and their use of the number 777. They were also known for tossing Bibles into the audience.

In their 30 year history, the line-up has remained virtually unchanged except for a short period when Tim Gaines was replaced by Tracy Ferrie. They remained active most of those years, only taking a break in the 90’s to pursue various solo and side projects, before reuniting in 2005 and releasing the comeback album Reborn.

Their newest heavenly offering for Frontiers Records, No More Hell To Pay, is not only the heaviest thing the band has ever done, but it is also, without a doubt the best and most melodic album they have done in 20 years. It is the band’s eighth studio release and it encompasses everything that was so great about their first four albums.

It picks up where Murder By Pride left off and was written using minor keys to achieve a darker sound. The album is the next logical step in their evolution of sound that was hinted to on Second Coming. Had this come out after To Hell With The Devil, it would have launched the band into the upper echelons of superstardom usually reserved for the likes of Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones or AC/DC.

Opener “Revolution” immediately reassures the listener that all the Stryper majesty is alive and well by sounding so happily familiar while at the same time, unlike anything else they have done before. It leads to title track “No More Hell to Pay,” which is quite simply put “To Hell With The Devil” part 2.

“Saved By Love,” is a fast-paced rocker in the vein of “Makes Me Wanna Sing” or “Rockin’ The World” while their driving cover of “Jesus Is Just Alright” is actually better than the original, featuring a stunning soul-infused breakdown and a patented Michael Sweet ear shattering scream at the end.

The album ramps up from there, with “The One,” that falls somewhere between “Free” and “Honestly.” Up next is “Legacy,” which infuses the alluring hooks of “Soldiers Under Command” with the infectious chorus of “You Know What To Do.” “Marching into Battle” is an anthem for the ages with an opening riff so hefty you’ll forget you are listening to a Stryper record until Michael Sweet’s voice tears through the silence and the lead guitar work.

“Te Amo” combines the heaviness of “The Way” or even “Two Time Woman,” with those signature Stryper vocal and guitar harmonies. At the same time “Sticks And Stones” is hands down the best track on the album with one of the most memorable choruses in rock history that will stick in your head for days.

“Water Into Wine” pairs the thumping bass line of “Keep The Fire Burning” with a super chunky guitar riff, with stunning results.

Here’s the bottom line- There aren’t enough cleaver adjectives in the English language to describe just how good No More Hell to Pay really is. Not to mention the fact that this is the bands strongest collection of songs in over a decade and Michael Sweet’s voice is in top form. The band has weathered the storm, losing faith, various side and solo projects and has emerged on the other side as a stronger and better band.

Rating: 9.5 out of 10.

-Eric Hunker

Frontman Michael Sweet recently sat down with The Front Row Report editor Reggie Edwards to talk about the record. The entire interview can be streamed below: