The year of 1986 was often declared as the International Year of Peace. On that same year, four young believers with yellow and black spandex took over the radio waves with their multi-platinum breakthrough hit To Hell With The Devil. Michael Sweet, Oz Fox, Robert Sweet, and Timothy Gaines opened the eyes and ears of many with their third and defining studio album. Many devout fans might remember Stryper turning a lot of heads while performing "Soldiers Under Command" at the 1985 Dove Awards or seeing their music videos on MTV at that time. Often stated as one of the best Christian metal albums of all time, To Hell With The Devil still remains to this day a masterpiece that shaped Stryper's career and Christian music in general.
The album starts off with the song "The Abyss," a dark instrumental track composed of synthesizers and sound effects, which could have also worked well with an old horror film such as The Thing or Hellraiser. Stryper quickly kicks it into high gear with the heavy metal we have come to know and love on the second track. Before Vengeance Rising's Burn and Petra's This Means War, Stryper paved the way for Christian metal anthems specifically about mocking the devil with their title track. Michael Sweet's lyrics are still as powerful today as they were over 20 years ago and his high pitch voice and screaming adds a lot. Stryper continues to rock out with other singles such as "Calling On You" and "Free."
The band quickly brings it down a notch with the "Honestly," a memorable ballad that was briefly mentioned on the recent VH1's 100 Most Awesomely Bad Songs. Often classified as a friendship song, "Honestly" was originally meant to stand as a testament of God's love and mercy towards each of us, "Through the years, I will be a friend for always and forever, Call on me and I'll be there for you, I'm a friend who always will be true, And I love you can't you see, That I love you honestly." Other tracks such as "The Way," "Sing-Along Song," and "Holding On" all make the list as some of Stryper's best material. The album closes with the rock anthem "More Than A Man," which closes the album beautifully while stating the prayer of salvation to listeners.
Whether you love them or hate them, no one can deny the success of Stryper and how they are one of the many bands that made Christian music what it is today. Many bands such as Disciple, Demon Hunter, and The Showdown would not be where they are today if it were not for the legacy of Stryper. With Oz Fox, Michael and Robert Sweet bringing the band back with 2005's Reborn album and a planned 2009 studio release, there is never a better time than now to pick up a copy of this Christian metal masterpiece. Fans of 1980's heavy metal and Christian rock need to say To Hell with the Devil and keep this album in their music collection.- Review date: 3/1/09, written by Fred Keel of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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