Great Metal Albums of 1986: Stryper- To Hell With the Devil

“Soldiers Under Command” put Stryper and Christian metal on the map so the question was when their next album, “To Hell With the Devil,” came out, would it be as good? The short answer is almost. While “To Hell With the Devil,” would go on to be one of the biggest selling Christian rock albums of any kind, it’s not quite as good as its predecessor. Still, it’s a good album, complete with all the hooks, great guitar riffs from Oz Fox and Michael Sweet’s fantastic voice. Of course, there’s the Jesus lyrics.

Stryper knew they had the right formula when they made “Soldiers Under Command” so they rather smartly stuck to that formula when they made this one. On the other hand, I don’t think the title track should have been the opener on the album nor when I would see them live on tour for the album in 1987. After the opening intro, “Abyss,” I mean. A better opening song would have been the one two tracks on, “Free.” It grabs your attention straight away with the lead guitar intro and then goes into a crunchy rhythm. Furthermore, the members of the band harmonize as well as any band and do so particularly on the chorus before, Fox shreds his way to the end of the song. Yes, that’s a better opener.

Not being afraid to put a ballad or two on their album, Styper give you “Honestly” and honestly, (yep, pun intended), it’s a pretty good one. It does show that Michael Sweet does have a versatile range with his voice. It turns out, it was released as a single but being in the UK, it didn’t seem to be the case. The metal club I went to was happy to play the title track a lot.

Christian speed metal comes in the form of “The Way.” Some very fast notes but with the obvious religious message in the lyrics. While, it doesn’t make me want to get on my knees and pray for forgiveness, (I’d be there for the next month), it does show that the Lord can manifest himself through any form and his presence could be felt in between the chords here. It gets my vote for best song on the album.

More clunking power chords and beautiful harmonizing come in the form of “Sing Along Song.” If I could carry a tune in a bucket, I’d sing right along with them on this one. The second best song on the album. Therefore, you get a one two punch with “The Way” and “Sing Along Song.” In fact, the second half of the album is the better half.

One thing I wonder is that while Michael Sweet gets the accolades as a singer he so richly deserves and he shows why throughout the album, does Oz Fox get the same praise as a guitarist? He shows he can pound the rhythm chords and then shred away on the album as he did on the previous one. While I’m at it, I don’t think that the rhythm section of Tim Gaines and Robert Sweet get enough respect either. Let’s just say that Stryper certainly debunk the myth the Christian rockers are second rate musicians.

Track Listing:

  1. Abyss
  2. To Hell With the Devil
  3. Calling On You
  4. Free
  5. Honestly
  6. The Way
  7. Sing Along
  8. Holding On
  9. Rockin’ the World
  10. All of Me
  11. More Than a Man

Michael Sweet- lead vocals

Oz Fox- guitar, backing vocals

Tin Gaines- bass, backing vocals

Robert Sweet- drums

With two solid albums under their belts, Stryper were being taken seriously by the metal world. Maybe it was part of God’s plan, I don’t know. What I do know is that whether they are singing about Jesus or doing terrible things to dogs with a fork, Styper are the real metal deal.

Next post: Voi Vod- Rrroooaaarrr

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8 Responses to “Great Metal Albums of 1986: Stryper- To Hell With the Devil”

  1. This is a good one. I actually like it better than Soldiers. The stuff they’ve been doing the last 10 years is just as good I believe.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I haven’t been able to give myself over to those early albums, but the recent Stryper, Michael Sweet, and Sweet & Lynch albums are great!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Good question regarding Oz. No I don’t think he gets enough credit, but neither does Michael as a soloist! He can shred too.

    Love this album and it was my first Stryper.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow, haven’t heard the name Stryper in a long time! I found these guys because my hard-core Christian parents were always giving me a hard time about listening to Judas Priest and Iron Maiden!

    This was the first time I had realized there was heavy metal Christian music. I didn’t listen to them for long before I got sucked into becoming a huge Metallica fan! 🙂

    I always listened to all genres of music though as I tend to get bored hearing the same type constantly! :\

    Liked by 1 person

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