Rock Is Definitely NOT Dead

With One Sided War, Stryper's Michael Sweet delivers an adrenaline-filled set that never disappoints.

Stryper's Michael Sweet comes out swinging and never lets up in his seventh solo album, 'One Sided War'.

Stryper's Michael Sweet comes out swinging and never lets up in his seventh solo album, 'One Sided War'.

Ashley Tait, Ketochi Editor

MTV in the mid-1980s was ruled by big-haired metal bands that glorified sex, drugs, and bad-boy behavior.

Enter heavenly rockers Stryper, a band that, despite its opposing stands on the aforementioned topics, managed to rock its way to the top of Dial MTV, the network’s predecessor to Total Request Live.  The driving guitars and catchy hooks of classics like Free, Honestly, Calling on You, and Always There for You propelled the band into the same conversations as contemporaries such as Def Leppard, Motley Crue, and Poison.

Thirty years later, the band is still going strong following the critically acclaimed albums No More Hell to Pay and Fallen.  Frontman Michael Sweet’s seventh solo album continues the heaviness of those releases, and, in many ways, eclipses it.

The album’s opener is Bizarre, a blitzing number that both laments the disinterested nature of today’s society and emphasizes our ability to do great things if we work together.  He sings, “We can move mountains and do anything, but we just stand back from afar.”

Title track One Sided War follows Bizarre and, musically and lyrically, is my favorite track on the album.  The song focuses on a relationship in which one party can’t let go of a past conflict.  Can’t Take This Life is perhaps the heaviest entry of this very heavy album.  It is an anthem that encourages people to keep fighting even though a battle may have been lost.

The fourth track is a song called Radio that pokes fun at the recent attempts by many rock artists to ‘go country.’  In it, Sweet criticizes unnamed rockers for trying to regain popularity by taking their talents to the en vogue genre of the moment.

Golden Age, Only You, and I Am are three more heavy hitters that boldly trumpet Sweet’s Christian faith.  Each is an example of an evangelizing technique that Sweet has mastered – taking a bold stand for his faith without coming across as holier than thou.

Who Am I is the lone ballad on the album, but it’s certainly not a soft one.  Lyrically, it focuses on the regret that many men and women feel when they realize that they have taken their significant other for granted.

You Make Me Wanna gets the album back to the undeniable energy of the first seven tracks, and Sweet doesn’t let off the gas from that point forward.  Comfort Zone, One Way Up (a definite nod to Van Halen), and a version of Can’t Take This Life featuring teen rock vocalist Moriah Formica serve as a very satisfying conclusion to one of the hardest-rocking, adrenaline-filled albums I’ve ever heard.

For anyone who loves hard rock and metal but has grown tired of the negative, hopeless messages that come from the vast majority of today’s artists, this album will not disappoint.

Tait-o-meter Score: 9.5/10