Review: Stryper’s ‘Even the Devil Believes’ is heavenly good

Stryper, “Even the Devil Believes” (Frontiers)

Even the devil, long reputed in some circles to be in league with rock ‘n’ roll, must believe by now that Stryper could well be God’s favorite band. The Christian heavy metal quartet is still slamming it so hard, fast and loud nearly 40 years later that they may have friends in the highest places.

Stryper came of age in the big melody-bigger hair ’80s, epitomizing the decade’s blend of harmony and hardness. It’s a sound they have led the way keeping alive; their twin guitar solos remain instantly identifiable, and singer Michael Sweet hasn’t lost anything off his vocal fastball.

The band’s new album, “Even the Devil Believes,” kicks off with a roar in “Blood from Above,” and it sets a breakneck pace right through the equally accelerated closer “Middle Finger Messiah,” a song about how many people turn their back on Jesus.

Sweet insists the provocatively titled “Make Love Great Again” isn’t a swipe at President Donald Trump, but rather a call to unite and embrace goodness and light — even though one of its verses speaks of “a culture that’s building walls.” They record, you decide.

“This I Pray” is Stryper’s own “Blaze of Glory,” in the same vein as the Bon Jovi classic, where the singer begs God for one more day of a life he hopes to turn around. And “Divider” could be the best song that Judas Priest never wrote.

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