Something funny happened on the way to Stryper’s relegation to an ’80s pop culture punchline. The band refused to give in. Instead, ever since 2005’s “Reborn,” the band has released a string of searing muscular yet melodic metal records thrilling longtime fans and reminding the kids that yes, underneath the AquaNet and spandex, there was heavy rock going on during the Reagan Administration. The band’s new album “The Final Battle” not only reinforces how Stryper has yet to lose a step, but if anything, they’re getting better.
“The Final Battle” has everything Stryper fans love, minus syrupy power ballads. Michael Sweet slicing through high vocal parts like a hot knife through butter? Check. Sweet and Oz Fox trading blistering guitar solos? Check. Perry Richardson pounding out thundering bass? Check. Drummer … pardon, visual timekeeper Robert Sweet laying it down hard and heavy? Check. Stryper is proof that while rock’n’roll may keep you young, clean living does that and empowers you to rock even harder as the years pass by.
None of this would be worth a lick if the songs didn’t hold up, and Stryper has no problem holding up this end of the deal. While there are no particular standout tracks, there are also no duds. The best track is a matter of opinion, but “No Rest For The Wicked” has as strong a claim as any to the title.
In a world of autotune and Taylor Swift, hearing some real rock that neither insults your intelligence nor dampens your spirit is welcome indeed. Stryper has never been, nor will be, everyone’s cup of tea. But for those who have ears to hear, “The Final Battle” is a pure winner.