5 Stars Out Of 5
Best Stryper Album Since "To Hell With the Devil"
February 26, 2011
Holy smoke!!! From the get-go, this album is full of non-stop guitar shredding, explosive drum-playing, and over-the-top rock vocals by Michael Sweet. Oh yeah, Tim Gaines is back on bass & also sounds phenomenal. In fact, the band sounds tighter than ever musically. What sets The Covering apart from the last two Stryper albums is the sheer all-out energy and intensity of the music. "Set Me Free" starts out with an incredible drum intro by Robert Sweet and jumps into a high-velocity, guitar driven tempo that sets the pace for the rest of the album. "Blackout" slows the pace down by about a milli-second and finds Michael belting out the lyrics at the top of his lungs (or close to it). As a side note, is it possible that Michael's voice is even better now than it was 26 years ago? For anyone who may have thought Michael couldn't hit the high notes he did back in the 80s, THE COVERING will put that debate to rest. Getting back to the music though, "Heaven and Hell" is maybe the best song on the album. This song has it all: a huge rock-chorus anthem, serious bone-crunching guitars and guitar riffs (thanks to Oz Fox), and Michael's voice sounds commanding, edgy and dark. I could listen to this song over and over. Without going into the rest of the album song-by-song, I'll mention a few highlights. "Highway Star" is maybe just as good as Heaven and Hell. Michael continues to amaze, from the high (I mean REALLY high) piercing vocals at the beginning of the song to the literal screams of the chorus: "I love it! I need it! I bleed it!" The song also features some retro keyboard sounds and a keyboard solo that rocks just as hard as the guitars do. "Over the Mountain", "God" (the lone Stryper original), and the Zeppelin classic "Immigrant Song" are also among the best songs on The Covering. "Carry on My Wayward Son" is also a great song, although I still prefer the original by Kansas. FYI, Robert sounds absolutely amazing throughout this whole album! For some reason he didn't record with the guys on MURDER BY PRIDE, but his playing on The Covering is as energetic as ever. One last thing, if the fact that Stryper is covering a bunch of "pagan" rock bands causes anyone to question their faith, check out the liner notes from the CD: "Thanks to. . . Jesus for your covering, your faithfulness, your forgiveness, your mercy." (from Michael) - and, "Thanks to. . . our Lord and Savior Jesus of Nazareth the Christ Resurrected!!!" (from Oz). The song "God" is also one of the most convicting Stryper songs ever, reminding us of the life-and-death message we've been entrusted with as Christians, and the severe consequences if we do not share the Gospel with those who need it: "Hearts are weeping, souls are keeping on ice/spirits dying, wickedness won't suffice/those who cared, they stop and stare at the wall/doing nothing, watching prisoners fall. . . God, have mercy on us for we know not what we do/God, dark and blinded we are burning without you." All in all, this is an amazing album. I would daresay it's Stryper's best album since "To Hell with the Devil" and the guitar playing and guitar solos are easily among the best I've heard in years (in either the Christian or "mainstream" market).