The most conspicuous thing about No More Hell to Pay, the album that marks Stryper's 30th anniversary, is that they still have all of the chops they had in the 80s - just with more skill! Michael and Oz trade off lead licks and both of them deliver some "blow your hair back" riffs. The other big "in your face" moment is their level of lyrical commitment to sharing the Gospel. These guys are singing about Jesus - and there is not a single "well, it could be a girlfriend/crush song" in the batch. Not that this is a surprise. Having seen them in concert and watching first-hand as Michael Sweet got heckled for taking time out to talk about Jesus and pray on stage, (and he handled it with grace and dignity), I've long known that this band is in it for ministry, not money.
From the pure 80s metal sound of rockers like the title track and "Te Amo" to the spectacular ballads like "The One," which showcases Michael's superior vocal abilities, No More Hell to Pay has a whole lot going for it. The rock is totally and completely in your face; even more so than previous releases. The driving beat of "Sticks and Stones" is only matched by the guitar solo action that will have you rewinding over and over. Speaking of guitar solos, "Sympathy" has one that will blow you away.
In all honesty, after multiple listens spanning several days, I haven't been able to find a single "take it or leave it" song - much less a bad one. The downside to that is that the "standout" tracks seems to change with every listen. All 12 songs have something super special about them and, much like Scripture itself, will touch you in a different way depending on the day and where your spirit is. At the end of the day, no matter how amazing the musicianship is or awe-inspiring the vocals are, the albums that truly stand out and make a difference are the ones that touch your spirit. No More Hell to Pay doesn't just touch it, it lovingly caresses it while turning your heart towards Jesus. This is an A+, 5-star effort and a great reminder of why Stryper has gone down in the history of Christian music as one of the biggest names and brightest stars.
GENRE: Christian hard rock / melodic metal
RECORD LABEL: Frontiers Records
RELEASE DATE: November 1, 2013 (Europe) / November 5, 2013 (North America)
No More Hell to Pay Track List:
- No More Hell To Pay
- Saved By Love
- Jesus Is Just Alright
- The One
- Marching Into Battle
- Te Amo
- Sticks & Stones
- Water Into Wine
STAND OUT TRACKS:
Each song stands out in its own way but my three favorites (today anyway) are:
- Sticks and Stones
- Saved by Love