Written by: Blackie Skulless
Stryper have made a name for themselves over the decades, and in later years actually took on an even more metallic sound than their earlier glammy roots. That said, the last record God Damn Evil was a huge let-down to me, the first by Michael Sweet and co. that I flat out disliked (“Take It To The Cross” and “Sorry” being the worst offenders). Michael’s latest solo effort Ten from last year was pretty solid, however, and actually gave me better hopes. This brings us to Even The Devil Believes, which is a rather mixed bag.
On one hand, I’m absolutely thrilled that they’ve made a step up from before, despite not reaching the magnitude of Fallen. You can basically sort every song here into one of three categories: sturdy, strong, and rubbish. This also means that the flow is a bit awkward, but easy enough to work with. By “sturdy,” I’m mostly talking about the songs that are exactly what you saw coming. Opener “Blood From Above” is a well-written, heavy banger with strong falsettos thrown in, all polished with a clear production. Truth be told, this approach makes up at least half of the album, which is fine albeit somewhat samey.
But Even The Devil Believes offers a few gems that stand out. “This I Pray” is oddly the best song here, being a soft folk ditty yet leaving the deepest impression on me. The title track also rides on buzzing riffs with sprinkles of guitar noodles, bringing a lot of personality to the table. The harmonies here in particular are absolutely stellar. “Divider” stands above a bit just because of its extremely thick bass presence carrying it with great clarity. Even “Invitation Only” has some of the best melodies on the record, carrying the same energy as the old days.
There are also some songs that are nearly as bad as the previous offenders. “Make Love Great Again” is an obvious attempt at climbing high on the ridiculousness that is the current state of the USA. That aside, it’s overly long and boring, stretching a radio rock track into an attempt at being epic. “Do Unto Others” is a hokey piece of junk that honestly makes me cringe because of how much of a reach they’re going at with “righteous” lyrics. I get it, and they do this pretty well most of the time. But yikes, do they ever drop the ball sometimes. This is one of those times. And the closer “Middle Finger Messiah”? Oh boy…let the name tell you all you need.
Mostly, the best songs reside in the second half, and the aforementioned standouts are the biggest reason to give this a listen. I’m just glad that there are standouts this time, and the majority of this is enjoyable. That’s really all I could ask for considering the previous disc. But make no mistake, the few bad ones are incredibly tough to get through.
Stryper - Even The Devil Believes was released Sept. 4th, 2020 from Frontiers Music Srl
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We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!