Sunday, December 31, 2000

Stryper - The Covering

The Covering
(c)2011 Independent

When buzz started about Stryper doing a covers release of their influences, I thought at best that this would get mixed reviews from the Christian community. Here is a band that helped in a big way to get this niche genre, should I say, "Christian rock" on the map back in the 80's. At least recognized, is probably more like it. To do a covers CD of classic rock and metal influences that have little to no connection to the God I serve could be looked at by some narrow-minded folk as sacrilege. My question for those naysayers is doesn't God use anything and everything He chooses to bring about His glory? Who's to say that God can't speak through a Black Sabbath song? I personally know that God once used a Pearl Jam song to inspire me to pen a worshipful song on guitar. So there! Back in the day, say 20 years ago, much of the "secular" counterparts kicked the ever-loving daylights out of this niche called "Christian rock" or "CCM". All I know is that I once was made to feel guilty for owning a Ted Nugent or Black Sabbath album. Sure, I was young and impressionable, but what drew me to music was the quality, not necessarily the spiritual content. If it was good to my ears, then it resonated. I was led to believe that this new God rock was awesome. I have to admit that some of it was, and for that matter still is, up to par with the "outside world". Going back and listening to most of it is definitely taking a trip down memory lane. Some of it is lame, some of it makes me laugh at how lame it was, and still some makes me smile as I remember how it brought a chill to my spine. Listening to the albums now that I once burned in "righteous purging", I find enlightening to my musical senses. It's all good, in my opinion.

This has grown on me for some reason. Tribute and cover albums can be a mixed bag. The purists want note for note authenticity. Production could be suspect. The band could outright stink. These are all outright possibilities to think through when considering a purchase. I think the reason why The Covering has gotten under my skin, in a good way, is because Stryper took on some killer songs, and not only pulled them off, but put their own collective stamp on them. With Michael's incredibly tight vocals, and the collective harmonies to boot, they have never sounded better. Oz Fox's guitar work is crisp and very cohesive, just like I remember back in the yellow and black days. They have reinvented themselves and have endured when other bands from that era have cashed in on past glory riding the reunion tour racket. They sound like they have nothing to prove to anyone. It seems and sounds like they did this mostly for fun.

The joyous nods are as follows: Sweet - "Set Me Free", Scorpions - "Blackout", Black Sabbath - "Heaven and Hell", UFO - "Lights Out", the often overdone, but this time out a nice version of "Carry On Wayward Son" by Kansas, my personal favorite, Deep Purple - "Highway Star", KISS - "Shout It Out Loud", an Ozzy Osbourne tune, "Over The Mountain", Iron Maiden's "The Trooper", another favorite, Judas Priest's "Breaking The Law", a little known Van Halen song, "On Fire", and a unique nod to Led Zeppelin with "Immigrant Song". Plus, what would a Stryper album be without something original, "God"? Nice touch to close it out, boys! Older, wiser, and still kicking, Stryper is still relevant and can blow the doors off the best of them.

10 of 10 clicks
March 2011

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