9/14/2005 - Review by: Anthony Burke
Stryper - Reborn - 2005 - Big Three Records
Iced, 15 years is a long time to be gone. What has been going on since “Against the Law” (which was their only non-Christian album) showed its ugly face in 1990? Well, here is a brief summery of the goings on. Let’s start with Enigma Records going bankrupt in 1991. But you can’t stop this roller coaster, as Stryper signed with Hollywood Records. In 1991, after releasing a best of collection featuring 2 new tracks, longtime drummer and cofounder, Michael Sweet, left for solo ground in 1992, leaving Stryper as a 3 piece. Although they tried to triumph, the yellow and black attack died, and Stryper did not release another album. Sweet had a rather good run in the solo race, releasing 3 albums, all of which I thought were mediocre, but achieved success never the less. Tim Gaines and Robert Sweet performed on the 1994 release by King James. Tim Gaines and Oz Fox formed Sin Dizzy in 1995, however, Tim left in 2000. Reformed for an expo, followed by a live show in 2000, it seemed the yellow and black attack were back, or were they? A best of album and a live album, will we ever get another studio album? Enter the new studio effort, “Reborn”.
To say that I was let down would be accurate. "Reborn" showed a renewed faith, renewed bond, but mostly, a renewed sound. After a 15 year break, things had to change. The original lineup, Michael Sweet, Robert Sweet, Tim Gaines, and Oz Fox, did not have a makeover. Part of this album sounds like a Creed remake, but the majority of this record sounds like another Michael Sweet solo effort. “Open Your Eyes” did not prove a rebirth; instead it shows audiences how to fall on their faces. All is not lost, with the track Reborn proving that the band can still shred into the new millennium. Heavy and even though highly religious, it almost shows a dark side of Stryper. Tracks like “When Did I See You Cry”, “Live Again” and “Make You Mine” show a Creed like sound, but from the Human Clay era, which showcases the group at its height. Passion started out like a ballad of old, but still a ballad, it is done in true Stryper fashion. The “Live Again hits, and it is sounding as if the boys are back in full force. “If I Die” and “Wait For You” just seemed to be filler tracks. “Rain” is a decent ballad, nothing to write home to mamma about. Then, out pops “10,000 Years”, and what is there to say. I am stilled floored, ‘cause never did I expect a rock version of “Amazing Grace”. After the initial shock wears off, then one can listen to the track. It is an interesting take on the hymn. Really, it is not bad. A definite change in sound, not as hard as they once were but edgy is a definite. The album closes with a remake of a huge hit, “In God We Trust”, this remake alone is outstanding. They added heaviness and a sound that is fit for the Stryper of today.
Stryper proved once and for all that the Christian thing was not a clever money-making hoax. For the classic Stryper fans, this album may not be for you, listen at your own risk. For the newcomers, this would be a great album to start that Stryper collection. Just know that when you hear greats like “To Hell With The Devil’ and “In God We Trust”, the new sound is more cutting edge for the time, but this is the only album with that type of sound. After your Stryper catalog is complete, solo work and all, pick up Saint, Recon, and Barren Cross. Through everything, this is not the record I expected, but not a bad spin at all. It is not my favorite, but not the worst either. My recommendation is give it a spin, whether you are a fan or not, you decide.
---Iced Mojo 09.13.05
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