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Second Coming
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4.0 Stars

It has seemly become more and more of a trend over the past decade or so for bands to be releasing, either partially or entirely, new CDs rehashing other artist’s material or in a word, “covers” albums. You can call them “tribute” albums or whatever you want but bottom line, they’re (more or less) a quick and easy way for a band that hasn’t been heard from much recently to get their name back out there again AND, of course, an easy way for them and their record label to make a quick buck. And it doesn’t really matter what the subject matter is. Could be old songs, new songs… songs dedicated to a specific genre or artist or EVEN artists covering their OWN songs! The latter is the case when it comes to STRYPER’s (ahem) new CD appropriately titled “Second Coming.”

Since STRYPER’s comeback CD “Reborn” in 2005, the band has released a total of 3 CDs and only one (“Murder By Pride”) has been almost exclusively new material… although even that had the inclusion covering BOSTON’s “Piece Of Mind.” “Second Coming” follows up the band’s 2011 release “The Covering” which was (duh!) another covers album where they took on some of hard rock/ heavy metal’s classic masterpieces (and didn’t do a bad job at all, I might add). This time the band took on the ultimate challenge… THEMSELVES… as “Second Coming” is entirely composed of STRYPER tunes from their first three releases as well as two brand new bonus tracks.

The CD includes new versions of “Loud N’ Clear” and “Loving You” from their debut release “The Yellow and Black Attack” as well as 6 songs each from both ‘Soldiers Under Command” and “To Hell With The Devil” and the two new songs “Bleeding From The Inside Out” and “Blackened.” When asked why they decided to release a CD re-recording their own material, lead vocalist/ guitarist Michael Sweet replied “First, because we wanted to cut out the middle men and have a little more control over our own songs. Second, we wanted to fix some things that have annoyed the “Hell” out of us for the past 30 years such as no bass in the mix of “The Yellow and Black Attack” or “Soldiers Under Command” and no Tim (Gaines, bassist) on the mix of “To Hell With The Devil.” After just one listen, I can say that they definitely succeeded in doing just that and breathing fresh life into a selection of songs otherwise left unpolished for over three decades.

Now… as a long time STRYPER fan myself, here’s the low down. First of all, brace yourself and realize it is 30 YEARS LATER and naturally the high-falsetto pitched vocals we were all accustomed to Michael Sweet belting out with ease back in the day are long gone. He is more of a “high-alto” now but impressively, he is still able to belt out a sweet falsetto here and there when absolutely necessary but the thing is, nowadays he really doesn’t have to. With the addition of superior production in the music itself and really boosting up the bass and low-end all but eliminating that “tingy” sound of the original releases, the songs themselves have taken on a more heavier and richer tone which, as a whole, mixes with his lower octave voice brilliantly.

ALL of the songs from both “The Yellow and Black Attack” and “Soldiers Under Command” I actually enjoy more on THIS release than on the original and tracks like “Reach Out,” “Makes Me Wanna Sing” and “Loud N’ Clear” have never sounded better. Just goes to show what a superior mix and production can do for a release. Then as far as “To Hell With The Devil” goes, being my favorite STRYPER release, it took me a little longer to get use to these… especially the title track and “The Way” but “Free,” “Sing Along Song” and “More Than A Man” all showed immediate and noticeable improvement.

The one thing I do have to admit is yeah… even though I like the bassier and more aggressive sound of “Calling On You,” I still like the original better on this one. That was one of their signature songs and when approaching a project like this, I think it is important to keep in mind there are certain songs you just shouldn’t touch. It’s like VAN HALEN re-recording Jamie’s Cryin’,” or DEEP PURPLE re-recording “Smoke On The Water” or POISON re-recording “Talk Dirty To Me”…. JUST DON’T DO IT! And I feel the same way about “Honestly” which THANKFULLY I think even THEY realized themselves not to tinker with.

As far as the new songs go? “Blackened” is the CLEAR winner of the two featuring some shredding guitar work by Fox, a thick, powerful rhythm and some more of those sweet, melodic harmonies and underlays that STRYPER does so brilliantly. Not to take away from “Bleeding From The Inside Out’ which is still a good track but the more suppressed melody and foreboding tones make it sound almost like an outtake from the “Soldiers Under Command” era.

Overall, “Second Coming” does not disappoint and succeeds in doing just what it was supposed to do in upgrading some classic tunes for a new generation. STRYPER fans… you just can’t lose with this one. This is what “most” of these tracks should have sounded like 30 years ago and thanks to… I don’t even wanna say “modern technology” because that really has nothing to do with it. It’s just a matter of producing and mixing THE RIGHT WAY which, as even some of these tunes can attest, can be the difference between an overall masterpiece or an epic flop! And finally the addition of the new tunes just goes to prove that these guys still have some quality writing in them left and leaves me hungry for their next studio release of new material due out later this year.

Band Lineup:
  • Michael Sweet - Lead Vocals/ Lead Guitar
  • Oz Fox - Lead Guitar/ Vocals
  • Timothy Gaines Bass/ Vocals
  • Robert Sweet Drums/ Vocals
Track Listing:
  1. Loud N Clear
  2. Loving You
  3. Soldiers Under Command
  4. Makes Me Wanna Sing
  5. First Love
  6. The Rock That Makes Me Roll
  7. Reach Out
  8. Surrender
  9. To Hell With The Devil
  10. Calling On You
  11. Free
  12. The Way
  13. Sing Along Song
  14. More Than A Man
  15. Bleeding From The Inside Out
  16. Blackened




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