It has been nearly 15 years since the Orange Country boys of glam rock known as Stryper have released a full length studio album. After nearly a decade and a half of doing other projects outside of performing as the "Yellow and Black Attack" foursome, the band is back together with a new attitude and a new style. One unfortunate notation is the fact that all but one member had reunited for the new album. Though the reasoning for Timothy Gaines not joining the band on this historical effort was not officially explained, Michael Sweet and Co. hired former Whitecross bassist Tracy Ferrie to take his place instead.
As for the album itself, Reborn is rather a step into different territory (think Michael Sweet's Truth blended together with similar elements of the mid-90's sound of Guardian). After one listen, it's more than obvious that Michael's voice has matured greatly over the years, along with nu-metal riffs from both Oz Fox and Ferrie (not left out are the great drum rhythms from Robert Sweet). The new Stryper may not catch on right away for the hardcore fans of their older albums (i.e. Soldiers Under Command, To Hell With The Devil), however, songs like "Open Your Eyes" and the heartfelt and passionate "Make You Mine" will bring a smile to the faces of many fans of the band's earlier efforts. Another change in the new project is that the ballads ("Passion" and "Rain") begin as beautiful, acoustic, and/or pop melodies and then break out into melodic rock choruses.
Those who remember (and preferred) the lyrical content of In God We Trust will not be disappointed with the lyrics contained in Reborn. The hard rockin' "Live Again" is a plea for God's mercy to give a broken down saint another chance to live the way He wants him to live. The album's title track begins with a strong late-90's metal arrangement and offers words like "If you believe in My way, if you believe in My Word, if you believe in My honesty" that lead into the climax of "I'll crush the chains that bind and make you feel you're born again (Reborn again, reborn again)."
Surprisingly, the project's biggest highlights come toward the end as Stryper crafts an amazing, one-of-a-kind cover of the classic hymn "Amazing Grace" in the song "10,000 Years." A brand new recording of the legendary "In God We Trust" comes next, finishing the album with ease. Though the new version is done fairly well, it cannot match the same flare that was presented in the song's original recording in 1989.
Overall, Reborn is an album that could either draw a new crowd of fans into Stryper's music, or serve as somewhat of a letdown for fans that were expecting a regeneration of their 80's style of metal. Though the album isn't what I would consider a blockbuster release, it brings forth plenty of originality and holds its own in contrast to many other 80's metal bands who have recently tried to reinvent themselves, mostly resulting in only minimal success. If you have never heard of Stryper before, and are willing to try out metal that has no boundaries, then you might find yourself easily amused with Reborn.- Review date: 8/21/05, written by Paul Portell
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