From the very first notes of the very first track of Stryper’s latest album, “The Covering”, you know you are in for something special. The first full length studio release to feature the original four members of the band – Michael, Robert, Oz, and Timothy – since 1990’s “Against the Law”; “The Covering” erupts from your speakers, grabs you by the neck, and takes you on a no-holds-barred exploration of ‘70s and early 80’s rock. But this isn’t just a random collection of cover tunes. If you listen closely, you can hear the threads in these songs that run through Stryper’s own music. It’s a roadmap of how Stryper became who they are musically. It’s also an exceedingly good album.
Let me get one thing out of the way up front – I am a HUGE Stryper fan. Their rise to prominence in popular American metal music occurred just as I was taking the first steps out of the musical shadow of my parents, and into a world where I could call the bands my own. I grew up listening to Stryper – in many ways, they were the soundtrack to my adolescence. Still today, theirs is the music I turn to when I’m at my lowest and need to find a reason to smile.
Stryper was the first band I ever saw in concert without chaperones – just my friends and I. (For the record, it was at the Atlanta Civic Center on February 21, 1987). “To Hell With The Devil” was the first CD I ever purchased, after finally convincing my parents to let me buy a CD player from Service Merchandise. I decided to grow my hair out in high school because I wanted to look like Michael Sweet (and Bobby Dahl from Poison – but that’s another story). I had a denim jacket sporting a “To Hell With The Devil” patch on the back. I sang “Honestly” at my high school talent show. When I got married, I wrote and recorded a song for my wife and I to have our first dance to. Listening to it years later, I realized it perfectly mirrors the structure of “Honestly”. I was in the audience when Stryper recorded “7 Weeks: Live In America” at EarthLink Live in Atlanta. And, in a world where I was a rock star putting together my own version of “The Covering” – “Calling On You” would be cut number one on the album. As I said – I’m a big fan.