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Stryper > The Yellow and Black Attack > Reviews
Stryper - The Yellow and Black Attack

A rough, but respectable debut from a unique group - 65%

greenberger, October 18th, 2013

Let's get some things straight right off the bat: Stryper wears silly costumes, has a silly name, and attempts to convert kids into bible-believing rockers via heavy metal songs- which is about as silly as it gets. If you were a sixteen-year-old in the mid 80's, however, and your church-going parents were constantly on your back about your devil-worshipping music, Stryper was no less than the second coming incarnate, here to deliver you from a world that would never understand you. In that context, it's difficult to overstate the importance of The Yellow and Black Attack. Nothing in the christian music scene had achieved this level of professionalism, certainly not in the world of metal. Stryper was a real band that happened to be christians, rather than a bunch of christians who thought it'd be cool to preach the Bible in spandex. This was the first album that would please both your overbearing mom and your jean jacket-wearing long-haired friends who ran at the sight of anything associated with religion.

That was then. Decades later, only the songs remain, attempting to stand on their own as legitimate heavy metal. Though the production quality is raw, the album remains a pretty solid metal release through and through. Loud n' Clear kicks the album off, making it clear these guys deserve being taken seriously despite their bumble-bee outfits. At only six tracks, this is a short EP meant to show what the band could do, and frontman Michael Sweet would go on to develop his pop hooks and craft in subsequent albums (for better or for worse.) But the vocal melodies are strong enough to work, the Oz Fox guitar solos are great, and the drumming solid enough to thrash to. How many metal bands can actually get you to want to bang your head to the words "Jesus is the way"?

Four of the six tracks rock hard, while You Know What To Do is a more melodic precursor of the direction Stryper was to take: four-part harmonies mixed with crunchy guitars. You Won't Be Lonely is the closest thing to a ballad on the album, and is both less ambitious and less sappy than the actual power-ballads the band ended up churning out later. We close with Loving You, another metal rocker worthy of any headbanger's respect.

It's important to note that this EP only exists on vinyl, as the cd reissue adds a couple of extra tunes to fill out into a "proper" record: a genuine ballad called My Love I'll Always Show and the christmas single Reason for the Season, which should have probably remained off the album entirely. It's a nostalgic treat for Stryper fans, but not much of an actual song, and a terrible way to close this hard-rocking record.

Stryper went on to make better albums, but they also went on to make shittier ones and veer away from their true metal roots- which makes The Yellow and Black Attack a humble, but worthwhile, addition to the ultimate history of heavy metal.

The bees have taken our world! - 70%

Kalelfromkrypton, April 23rd, 2010

Back in the days of old school heavy metal (ala Judas Priest & Iron Maiden) a breed of bands were emerging. Stryper came to the world by storm (especially in Christian circles) but as a debut it is actually pretty solid. This is not the ultimate record because it obviously pales in comparison to ‘Number of the beast’ and ‘Powerslave’ just to mention two good examples.

Nevertheless what is worth mentioning for this album is the vocals of amazing Michael Sweet and the raw sound. As the other guy appointed when he is not singing like a wimpy girl (listen to ‘My love I’ll always show’) he can give them a run for their money to Quiet Riot, Motley Crue, Metal Church and some others which already had good singers and better production. However, he goes from high pitched screams to soft high notes effortlessly. He has such a domain of the high notes although back then he still lacked the power that perhaps Dale Thompson had.

In regards to the riffing style it is very simple and catchy, obviously influenced by the beginnings of heavy-glam metal from the LA circuit (although they came from Orange County). The solos are very cool and showed glimpses ofwhat would later come on ‘SUC’ and subsequent albums. In here the Priestesque-80’s era is quite obvious, but once they recorded their sophomore album they would turn the style into a more slashing ala Manowar but glam metal infused.

The drums add nothing special and they keep the rhythm base only. Robert Sweet has never improved and he does the same things there, boring fills, boring time changes and perhaps, the only album where I could say he sounds different and adds some things is ‘Against the law’ (meaning he was able to improve about 7-8 years later. He is, for me, below and any average drummer from back then (take Ventor, Gene Hoglan, Dave Lombardo for examples of how to play with aggression, precision and balls). I think that what helped him to be recognized was production and the super stardom the band gained, as for drumming techniques he is as bad as Lars Ulrich.

The raw production, even for the later version of the album doesn’t help that much and for me, the instruments are too low in the mix. The songs had potential and I firmly believe they could’ve done better. A good example of a more solid riffing and better song-writing is ‘You know what to do’ and the later ‘Reason for the season’. In the ballads department they have always sucked until ‘lady’ (again from ‘ATL’) but as far as the entire 80’s decade the over sugared-lolly pop for girly teenagers get on my nerve. They are so mellow that make my stomach ache.

This was the beginning of a good career. As of today they haven’t re-captured the magic and so far, I cherish those albums deep in my heart and they actually get a lot of airplay. If you like the band you can add this to your collection. If you are new I highly recommend ‘Against the law’ and ‘Soldiers under command’ which are far better and they might provoke you grabbing your air guitar and/or air drum kit. This debut is still fun and catchy enough to go back to the good old times.

A Mixed Bag, but a Good One - 95%

ExMachina, December 1st, 2006

This is the debut album from Stryper, though virtually all of this material was used on the Roxx Regime demo shortly before they switched names (and outfits). The raw production helps this kind of classic rock-based Metal come alive, but the strengths of this particular album are the guitar solos and vocals, which the rawer production did not compliment. It is essentially a good solid record which suffers from two saccharine-drenched ballads. The thing one has to remember, is that the most offensive ballad (My Love I'll Always Show) was not present on the original version of the album, so the now-common version of 'Yellow and Black Attack' has a markedly poppier approach.

Sound-wise, the production is high for this period, but not 'In God We Trust' over-produced. The guitars have a vicious crunch thanks to the two B.C. Rich guitars utilized by both Michael Sweet and Oz Fox. The bass is audible, with a hint of distortion, and the drums cut through everything. The vocals at times suffer from being too low in the mix, but Michael Sweet gives a really exceptional performance. He hits every note any other reputable Metal singer can hit and then some, but has his own bombastic style... when he's not crooning like a lady on ballads.

From the opening lick of 'Loud n' Clear', alot of the predispositions towards the music tend to fall by the wayside, especially as the song culminates into a killer twin guitar solo (a definite homage to Judas Priest - one of the band's self-confessed inspirations) and ends with a twin-guitar riff that I could easily see Iron Maiden or Accept having difficulty with. The difference, of course, being that the high end of both of these riffs is actually played by vocalist / guitarist Michael Sweet - impressive, no matter who your God is. It is not wimpy stuff, nor is the subsequent track, 'From Wrong to Right', which boasts a very strong main section. The album doesn't lose any steam until the end, when a few diabetes-inducing ballads theaten to sink it. Luckily, they are broken up by some rockers - 'Co'Mon Rock', 'You Know What to Do', and 'Loving You', the latter of which has easily the most complex dual guitar solo on the entire record, and may well be the standout of the album.

All in all, this one is actually a great record for those fans of classic early 80's Metal in the vein of Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, and Accept, who aren't put off by the ballads present on, say, 'Point of Entry' by Priest. If you want the best version possible then pick up the original vinyl sans bonus tracks, or just skip them.