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A welcome change in sound - 86%

Metalwontdie, July 24th, 2009

With In God We Trust Stryper took their most mainstream/commercial approach it didn’t really pay off. Two years later they released what is up to this point Stryper’s least commercial, most metal, and heaviest album to date Against the Law. Losing the yellow and black spandex and donning regular jeans they made a more metal image for themselves. Against the Law lost the hair metal approach and adopted a much more classic/traditional metal style with the semi-speed metal a approach still represented by Caught in the Middle, and Rock the Hell Out of You.

Stryper’s usual mainly mid-tempo songs with the occasional speed metal tempo are still intact. Only one power ballad is represented and it is by far better than any of Stryper’s more popular previous ballads, it’s also faster and heavier with a much better use of acoustic guitars. Guitar leads are less prevalent than the almighty riff on Against the Law but when leads are present they are pretty entertaining. Wider usage of power chords and a heavier usage of the bass gives Against the Law a nice crunchy guitar sound. An unusual cover of Earth, Wind, & Fire’s Shining Star is present and dare I say is much better than the original and one of Against the Law’s highlights.

The bands performance is freaking solid and definitely much stronger than on the swansong In God We Trust. Michael Sweet’s vocal approach is more mid-range based than his 80’s material but he still bellows out his older falsettos especially on Rock the Hell Out of You. His rhythm guitar playing is solid as usual but nothing out of the ordinary. Oz Fox’s lead guitar playing is definitely the highlight of Against the Law providing some crushing riffs and leads that at the time were unusual for Stryper. Tim Gaine’s bass guitar is far more audible than on earlier Stryper releases and adds the heaviness to Against the Law especially on the more mid-tempo crunchy songs. Robert Sweet’s drumming is possibly his best performance of his career using the double kick bass more often, drum rolling, and filling all over the place.

Only a few weaknesses are present on Against the Law and they do hurt the overall entertainment value. First off the standouts aren’t as good as on Stryper’s Soldiers Under Command, and To Hell With The Devil. Some of the songs have a fairly simple structure and could have been more complex. While the power chords are important to Against the Law it is a double standard because of the overuse and the simplifying use of them. Finally the choruses are not as entertaining as on Stryper’s mid 80’s material.

I would say that Stryper’s Against the Law is even better in the overall picture than say To Hell With The Devil and is certainly Stryper’s most underrated album. Best songs are Against the Law, Shining Star, Caught in the Middle, and Rock the Hell Out of You. I highly recommend this release to fans of classic/traditional metal and any fan of Stryper you won’t be disappointed.

-4 points standout songs are weaker
-4 points fairly simple son structure on some of the tracks
-3 points power chords overuse and simplifying effect on the songs
-3 points choruses are weaker than on Stryper’s mid 80’s material