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The Downfall - 100%

Cheech, May 5th, 2009

This is by far the best album, musically, for Stryper. The only problem was that it happened just a little too late, and at a time when rock music was beginning to change into something else.

The coming of grunge was only a small reason why this album led to the downfall of Stryper's commercial success. Mostly, it was because Styper decided to go in another direction with their image and with their music.

While the lyrics changed from purely Christian to just a positive message, the Christian music world felt shunned by it's biggest posterboys for Christ. Although Stryper struggled against the hard line conservative Christian talking heads for most of their careers, it was the religious message that helped bring them to the top of their game.

Christians who liked metal music loved Stryper for being in touch with their musical tastes. Metal fans who were not religious were curious as to how four guys dressed in yellow and black and preaching about God could rock the world and a lot of fans stayed on with them, despite the message and not because of it.

With Against the Law, Stryper shed the spandex and yellow and black for clothes more suitable for the coming times. Gone were the makeup and over the top fashions to be replaced with leather, loose, button down shirts, and beards. They also shed their Christian lyrics for more positive, mainstream topics like being cheated on and having some fun.

By far, this record was the one where all four members were able to shine. Oz Fox was finally able to show his fantastic fretwork, and on the very first song the tone of the guitar was no longer Michael and all Oz! The solos were loose, not flashy, but fit the songs like a glove. Finally, Oz was able to show just how good he really is. Is he a virtuoso like Satriani, Vai, and Malmsteen? No. Is he just as good as every other guitarist of the era? Absolutely. Oz has fun on this record, and you can hear it in his playing.

Michael Sweet's voice took on a harder edge to it, also. On songs like Lady, their signature ballad, it does go towards his feminine tone of the previous albums, but with a touch of crunch to it. This is actually a pretty good song, as far as ballads go, with a touch of blues to it. Today, the screams would seem as if he was trying to hard or overdoing it, but back in 1990, it was the thing to do. And there aren't many who can do it as melodically as Michael Sweet.

Tim Gaines played excellant on this album. The backup vocals were stripped down, unlike the other albums with perfect harmonies, and more in your face. For some reason, it seemed to fit Gaines a little better than before. The co-anchor of the rythym section performed beautifully on Shining Star, though it was rumored he had help. He was also excellant on Two Bodies (One Mind, One Soul).

This album rocked more than most of the others, and was not in any way overproduced. The mix was awesome, the songs punched, and it appeared as if the members of Stryper were able to spread their wings a little and have some fun. Songs like All For One and Two Bodies soared vocally and musically. Shining Star, a cover an Earth, Wind, and Fire tune is very good, also. Stryper combines funk with metal on this one and it works, plain and simple.

Because of the image and lyrical change, many people were confused by what Stryper was trying to do with this album and they refused to give it a chance. The hardcore Christians were upset at no longer having biblical anthems and the metal heads of the 80's shunned Stryper as selling out to the label or trying to be commercial. I believe it was neither. I think Stryper just wanted to try something different, and the result was some very kick ass music made by some excellant musicians.

Had it been given the chance, people would have realized that the message was still positive and these guys could rock with the best of them.

Anyone into Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax, or Pantera will not like this. People into Motley Crue (Dr. Feelgood album), Queensryche, White Lion, or Dokken will enjoy it.