Veteran Christian rock band Stryper is set to release its latest album, The Final Battle, Friday through Frontiers Music s.r.l. While the album is titled, The Final Battle, fans of the band should not be concerned about it being the band’s finale record. Coming roughly four years after the release of the band’s then latest album, Even The Devil Believes, the 11-song record will appeal primarily to the band’s established audiences. That is due in part to the album’s musical arrangements, which will be discussed shortly. The lyrical content that accompanies the album’s musical arrangements makes for its own interest and will be discussed a little later. The record’s production puts the finishing touch to the record’s presentation and will also be addressed later. Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the album. All things considered they make the album a record that Stryper’s most devoted fan base and more causal 80s rock fans.
The Final Battle, the latest album from Stryper (the band’s 14th album), is a presentation that the most devoted of the band’s audiences will find appealing. The record’s appeal comes in part through its featured musical arrangements. For the most part the arrangements featured in this record throw back to the band’s early works. It is that 80s hair metal approach for which the band has come to be known throughout its career. For all of the vintage hair metal sounds that make up so much of the album’s body, it also boasts at least a slight amount of more modern content. That more modern sound comes late in the album’s run in the form of ‘No Rest for the Wicked.’ The nearly four-minute composition is grounded in its heavy, plodding guitar line that is accompanied by steady time keeping of drummer Robert Sweet. The choral approach used to the vocals in the chorus is a classic 80s hair metal cliché that when paired with the heavier, almost doom metal approach of the verses, makes this song really one of the album’s most notable additions. Audiences could also argue that even with front man Michael Sweet’s Rob Halford-esque vocals and the equally power-metal style instrumentation from his band mates, the album’s opener, ‘Transgressor’ still presents its own modern power metal approach. That helps to change things up for the band in its own way, too. The heaviness of that song’s follow-up, ‘See No Evil, Hear No Evil’ also presents its own modern hard rock approach that will appeal to audiences just as much. For those wanting something more familiar from Stryper this time out, ‘Till Death Do Us Part’ gives audiences just that, what with the soaring guitars and Journey style overall instrumentation. It and other entries featured throughout the record give the album’s overall musical content reason enough for the band’s noted audiences to hear this record at least once.
While the musical content featured in The Final Battle makes its own share to engage and entertain audiences, it is just one part of what makes the album noteworthy. The lyrical themes that accompany the album’s musical arrangements make for their own interest. ‘Rise to the Call,’ another late entry is just one example of the importance of the record’s lyrical themes. This song’s theme openly exhibits the band’s devout Christian beliefs right from the lead verse and chorus, which state, “Encourage one another/Build each other up/In a world of trouble/Never say enough/Be strong and courageous/Do not be dismayed/For the Lord your God is with you today/We can’t go down like a ship on the sea/Because we’re too mighty/To fall to our knees/We fight and we wrestle/Risk losing it all/When we could win battles/And rise to the call.” That overt message of faith in God and trusting in God to help get one through those tough times is just as familiar to audiences as so many of the 8-s hair metal style arrangements that make up the album’s body. The message is furthered in the song’s second verse, which states, “God is our salvation/Never be afraid/He gives power to the weak/And strength to the enslaved/He’s the God of mercy/But we just can’t believe/He is everything/And more than we need.” Again, this is a clear message of having faith in God. Again, it will resonate clearly with plenty of the band’s established audiences.
‘Same Old Story,’ which boasts an infectious, heavy riff at its center (and a bass line that expertly compliments that guitar riff), is another key example of the importance of the album’s lyrical themes. In the case of this song, the message is similar to that of ‘Rise to the Call’ just in a different fashion. In the case of this song, it comes across more as a message that redemption is possible through faith. This is inferred through the song’s lead verse and chorus, which state, “I’ve been wondering why you hate your life/Spending all your time without a rhyme/Discarding love you find/Will you ever know how sad it is to be/Someone captive by their anger/On a ship that sails an empty sea/It’s the same old story/To darken all the glory/But you’ll cry out in the end/It’s the same old story/Today seems mandatory/But someday you’ll have to make amends.” This sounds by itself, like a message that we must repent and ask for forgiveness, but the song’s second verse changes that somewhat forceful message somewhat. That is the case as it states, “When you’re driving down a dark, lonely highway/Do you think of your mortality/And sins you’ve kept away/When you’re lying all alone/That’s when you’ll see/There’s a door that you can open/When you find the light, the lock and key.” Here is that message that life can change when we find that positive, that influential force in life. Instead of telling listeners they must seek out that change, that redemption, this verse instead tells audiences that they can find that light on their own and that it is up to them. It is a welcome change from the song’s lead verse, almost like Michael Sweet (or whichever band member that wrote the song) had a change of heart and realized the forceful way was not the way to go. To that end, this overall message of changing one’s life will resonate just as much with the band’s noted audiences as the theme in ‘Rise to the Call.’
‘Transgressor’ is yet another example of the importance of the album’s lyrical content. In the case of this song, it comes across as a song that serves as a reminder of sorts that we need to live our lives the best we can and as clean as possible. This is inferred through the song’s lead verse and chorus, which state, “We were all born of the world yet to be/More than just flesh/We are souls in the image of thee/And as we break/We begin to rebel/When we get older/Humilities harder to sell/Wide is the entrance/And broad is the way/That leads to destruction/And robs you of days/Narrow is the gate/It’s hard to endure/The road to eternal life/Transgressor.” That mention of the path being wide comes across as an allusion to all of the things in life that can tempt a person from living on the straight and narrow. That is of course just this critic’s own interpretation. The second verse continues that seeming message as it states, “Life has a way of escaping us all/Before we know it/We wake and its wasted away/It’s harder to see/When we make a bad call/A choice that determines/Where we stand in eternity.” This is a bit judgmental. There is no doubt about that. Whose place is it of one person to tell another what is right and wrong. Either way, the band’s most devoted fan base will, again, find such a message appealing. It is just one more theme that shows the importance of the album’s lyrical themes. When it and the other themes examined here are considered alongside the themes in the album’s other songs, the whole leaves no doubt as to the importance of the album’s overall lyrical content to its presentation.
There is no doubt that the content that makes up the body of The Final Battle forms a solid foundation for the record that will keep audiences engaged and entertained. The record’s production puts the finishing touch to the record. It brings out fully, the 80s hair metal sound for which the band has come to be known over the course of its life, ensuring the instrumentation and vocals are expertly balanced from one to the next. At the same time, it brings out even minute elements in each song that add their own touch to each composition. Knowing that Michael Sweet personally handles the production of the band’s records at this point in the band’s life, it shows his talent as a producer. The general effect from his work is such that it in itself will keep audiences engaged and entertained just as much as the record’s content. To that end, it is just as important to the album’s content. When it and the content are considered together, the whole makes the album in whole a work that the most devoted of Stryper’s audiences will enjoy along with the most devoted 8-s hair metal fans.
The Final Battle, the latest studio offering from Stryper, is a work that will appeal to a very targeted audience. That is proven in part through its featured musical arrangements. The record’s musical content largely throws back to works featured in its early records and to the general hair metal sound of the 80s. At the same time though, there are some modern touches tossed in at various points for good measure. That whole gives audiences something unique from the record’s opener to its finale. The lyrical themes that are featured alongside the album’s musical arrangements will find appeal among those targeted audiences because of their familiar devout Christian leaning. The production puts the finishing touch to the presentation. That is because of the positive general effect that it ensures. Each element examined is important in its own way to the whole of the album. All things considered, they make the album a work that the noted audiences will be glad to know is not the band’s last despite its title.
The Final Battle is scheduled for release Friday through Frontiers s.l.r. More information on the album is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:
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