Without a doubt, Stryper is one of the top Christian rock bands of all-time, and certainly the most celebrated Christian metal band of all time. Comprised of Michael Sweet (vocals/guitar), Oz Fox (guitar), Tim Gaines (bass), and Robert Sweet (drums), Stryper has been rocking since 1983, and is responsible for such '80s metal classic albums as 'Soldiers Under Command,' 'To Hell with the Devil,' In God We Trust,' and such MTV hit singles/videos as "Calling on You," "Free," and "Honestly." After a sabbatical for much of the 1990's, Stryper returned strong in the early 21st century. But it was not until their 2011 covers set, 'TheCovering,' that the aforementioned definitive Stryper was reinstated, as the band welcomed Gaines back into the fold.
"Tim is an original member, so there's a certain magic and chemistry that you have with the original line-up, that you can't replace with someone else," explains Michael Sweet. "It's just there, it is what it is. And Tim brings that to the band. He's a very talented bass player, singer, and keyboard player. He brings a certain chemistry and energy to the band, and it takes the four of us to recreate that."
Running the gamut from 1970's era classic rock (Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song," Deep Purple's "Highway Star," Kiss' "Shout It Out Loud," etc.) to 1980's era heavy metal (Black Sabbath's "Heaven and Hell," the Scorpions' "Blackout," "Iron Maiden's "The Trooper," etc.), 'The Covering' is certain to be a most welcomed addition to Stryper fan's album collections. But according to Sweet, it was a bit tricky tackling classic songs by other bands.
"A few things we set out to do on this album was to stay true to the original - we didn't want to disrespect the original versions. I feel that a lot of bands do that, because they're trying to be creative and put their own spin on it so much so that you lose the magic or the energy that the original had. That's why we stuck very close and similar to the original arrangements. And then the other thing was to somehow, someway put our own spin on it by playing the song. I'm never going to sound like Bruce Dickinson or Ronnie James Dio, nor would I ever try to. And having me sing the song puts our own spin on it - good or bad. We just all did our own little thing and with our own little touches and feel -Robert, Tim, Oz, and myself - it has that Stryper feel to it as well."
The thirteen track album also includes an all-new Stryper tune, "God." "Something that I was concerned about doing a covers album was the backlash. Being a Christian band, I was afraid we would get beat up pretty good. And sure enough, people in the press were saying early on, 'What are they doing? Are they Christian still?' All this nonsense. I just felt like, 'We really should put a song on there that solidifies our faith.' And that tells everyone questioning our faith, 'No, we haven't turned our back on God, we're still serious about it.' I was laying in bed one night, and the melody was in my head. I went downstairs, got a guitar, worked out some chords, recorded it, the next morning I wrote the lyrics, and there it was. It really came together quickly."
Stryper will be supporting their latest release with a full tour, which will see the quartet dust off a handful of originals they have not performed in ages, as well as selections from 'The Covering,' and all the expected hits. Beyond that, Sweet has high hopes for what lays in store for Stryper. "We're really excited about the future. We feel like the band is in the best spirits and the best place musically, spiritually, and physically speaking than we've ever been. We feel really good. We're all pushing 50, but man, I feel like there's so much more life for this band, and some incredible things in store for the group. We're hooked up with some great people - we've got new management, a great album, a great label. We just feel like everything is coming together, and hopefully some big things are to follow."
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