God Damn Evil
God Damn It All
God Save the People
But God Damn the World
2018. Its turning out to be quite the year for 80's bands releasing stellar material. Judas Priest just released Firepower, which earns a spot in the band's top 5 albums. Queensryche is dropping a new album later this year. I'm sure there have been more, and there definitely will BE more. But, we're talking about Stryper. They too have released a new album that is in my opinion, top 3 best. God Damn Evil easily fits with their two best, To Hell With the Devil, and Soldiers Under Command. As a life long fan, this is the Stryper album I've been waiting for.
I'll start with the news worthy issues and briefly give you my take on them before diving into this new masterpiece. First, bass player, Tim Gaines is no longer with them, and was replaced by ex Firehouse bassist, Perry Richardson. He didn't play on the album, but will be on future releases and tours. Second, there is all sorts of controversy over the name of the album. Walmart has refused to carry it, and blah blah blah. Its simple. Its a play on words, just like To Hell With the Devil. That's it. I don't understand how people can insist that Stryper is satanic, or using occult symbolism, or anything like that. Their message on this album is as powerful as any other album they've released. There's honestly nothing more to see here. Move along.
Now, the album. If this had been the followup to To Hell With the Devil, Stryper would have been headlining stadium concerts, and it would have been their highest selling album to date. Its the heaviest album in their discography, and the songs on it seem to be a natural progression from THWTD. Track 2, Sorry for example is a heavy, yet commercial Stryper anthem complete with the big chorus and stellar vocal and guitar harmonies. It starts with a heavy chugging groove, with vocal power right off the bat. But, the chorus has a feel similar to that of Free on THWTD. The video for it is very well done as well.
There are no power ballads on GDE, but there are some 'balladish' songs, like track 5, You Don't Even Know Me. Its verses and intros are slow, but the bridge and chorus have a Soldiers Under Command feel to it, and it speeds up toward the end. And, when I say it has a feel, all I mean is that it could have been on that album. It doesn't sound like any one song in particular. Track 8, Beautiful is another one. The guitar in my opinion sounds like a result of Michael Sweet jamming with George Lynch. There is definitely Lynch influence there in the rhythm of the song. It could have fit on Dokken's Under Lock and Key. (But it sounds like Stryper, not Dokken.)
Now, on to the heavies. The title track, God Damn Evil is an 80's style anthem. Simple, powerful, with a 4 part unison chorus. Chunky rhythm, flashy guitar, spectacular guitar solo, and even a nasty little breakdown in the middle with a low pitched sneery chorus. It takes me back. Track 3, Lost is probably my favorite song on the album. It has a SUC feel, complete with the twin axe harmony intros, powerful vocals, and a blistering high chorus. It may even be in my top 5 favorite Stryper songs. Oz Fox is amazing, and the dueling and harmony solo is everything you'd expect from them. Track 11, The Devil Doesn't Live Here, I think Robert Sweet channeled his inner Scott Travis on the intro. The first thing it reminded me of was the intros from Painkiller by Priest, and Scarified by Racer X. The guitar is super fast, and borderline thrash metal. The whole song is an Oz Fox guitar clinic, and its easily the heaviest Stryper song to date.
I remember last year sometime, Michael Sweet asked on social media if there was anything in particular we fans would like to hear on the new album. I replied, saying I'd like an anthem that compares to Soldiers Under Command. I got that in Lost. But, what I also got was an entire album that compares to their two best. If I had gotten this on vinyl or cassette, I think it would be worn out within a month. You want to own this one. Get it. There's no better time than now. You've got the right to choose. You can't lose....
...with God Damn Evil.