Stryper - Soldiers Under Command
Hollywood Records
Christian Hair Metal
10 songs (44:38)
Release year: 1985
Reviewed by Jeff
Archive review

Sometimes a gimmick is all an artist needs to garner just enough interest from a listener in order for them to check out their material. KISS had the make up, fireworks and dynamic stage shows. Angus Young of AC/DC had the school boy outfit. Judas Priest had the Harley Davidson, leather and spikes. Bands like Motley Crue and Ratt had the women. Mercyful Fate and Venom had Satan. So what did Stryper have?

Stryper was a Christian Hair Metal band from Orange County, California whose answer to all of the above was spreading the word of God. Stryper managed to promote a religious message of Christianity without being preachy, using the "yellow and black attack". Looking like human bees, their motto was 777 instead of 666; God instead of Satan. The band's name stood for "salvation through redemption yielding peace, encouragement and righteousness". Despite this gimmick, Stryper were actually some talented musicians who offered a majority of heavy metal rockers mixed in with some sappy ballads. I'd say their sound and style were similar to other LA Hair Metal bands such as Dokken and Ratt, though Judas Priest is a cited as an influence according to Michael Sweet.

"Soldiers Under Command" was Stryper's second album and first to reach gold status. From the cover, (which depicts the band decked out in yellow and black, posing with artillery in from of an SUV), to the first five opening power chords of "Soldiers Under Command", Stryper sets the tone for what is a majority of upbeat, mid tempo metal anthems. They spread the underlining message of rocking for Jesus and God, our Father, throughout the album. Their are plenty of melodic vocal harmonies, blistering guitar leads and a production that was crisp and clear. The sustain and crunch on the guitars helped give the songs power while catchy choruses and memorable lyrics made the music stay with the listener and sink in that much faster. Some keyboards were used, but more so for highlighting purposes. The only weak parts on this album are the ballads "Together as One" and "First Love", which were found on almost every hair metal album back in those days. These songs, while not bad for what they are, just take up space and slow down the excitement of the other eight tracks.

Michael Sweet was no doubt one of the best vocalists of that era. He sounds very similar to Dennis De Young of Styx. He had a wide octave range that few could be compared to. He had excellent command and control of his vocals and could sing with much clarity and power that he made seem effortless, while also being able to sing in a much more subdued manner during ballads. Michael Sweet could also played a mean rhythm guitar. Oz Fox was an underrated lead guitarist who licks and playing could be matched with the likes of a George Lynch or Warren Demartini. Oz Fox helped keep Stryper's music on the harder edge. Robert Sweet was considered "The Visual Timekeeper" on drums, providing steady and consistent drum patterns and keeping the rhythm section in sync with the help of bassist Tim Gaines.

I first learned about Stryper back in high school, around 1984. I was reading a magazine that had an article about them. I based my decision to get their first album, "The Yellow and Black Attack", simply on the articles description of the band, their music and the yellow and black attack look. I had never even heard their music until I bought the record. To this day I still enjoy their music and was happy to hear that they reunited to record some live shows, which they recently released as "7 Weeks: Live In America 2003". These recordings show that Stryper sound as fresh and as strong as ever.



Killing Songs :
All except for the wussy ballads "Together as One" and "First Love"
Jeff quoted 80 / 100
Other albums by Stryper that we have reviewed:
Stryper - No More Hell To Pay reviewed by Andy and quoted 90 / 100
Stryper - Second Coming reviewed by Andy and quoted no quote
Stryper - Reborn reviewed by Jeff and quoted 66 / 100
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