Stryper - The Covering
Big3 Records
53 minutes
Keven CrothersReview by:  Keven Crothers
Courtesy of: White Throne Metal Reviews

Stryper - The Covering

1)  Set Me Free - Sweet
2)  Blackout - Scorpions
3)  Heaven And Hell - Black Sabbath
4)  Light's Out - UFO
5)  Carry On Wayward Son - Kansas
6)  Highway Star - Deep Purple
7)  Shout It Out Loud - KISS
8)  Over The Mountain - Ozzy Osbourne
9)  The Trooper - Iron Maiden
10)  Breaking The Law - Judas Priest
11)  On Fire - Van Halen
12)  Immigrant Song - Led Zeppelin
13)  God

The Covering, the title of this latest offering of metallic hard rock is an assemblage of songs that were amongst the most important in the musical development of Mike, Robert, Oz and Tim. According to Mike this is the first album theyíve recorded with Tim since 1990ís Against the Law.

The songs are like a whoís who of classic hard rock and heavy metal acts of the 1970ís and early 1980ís. It would seem that this is an album that Stryper can really let their hair down and just flat out ROCK! Not having to write the material but just arrange and perform it, this album breathes with energy and vitality. The guys sound like theyíre having a great time playing these songs.

Opening with a version of Sweetís "Set Me Free" this horse is off to the races. The pedal is put to the floor and the nitro is kicked in; how can you listen to this song and not start the proverbial air guitar action???? UFOís "Lights Out" is a tour de force of solid driving rock n roll, the influence on "More Than a Man" is not just passing. The guitar solos rip it up one side and down the other. Robert, Tim, Michael, and Oz

Iíve always enjoyed Deep Purpleís "Highway Star", but this version is a tisch faster and Mike cuts loose like no oneís business. Why he hasnít received more attention for his vocal ability in the metal community is a crying shame. Robertís drumming propels this version and does Ian Paice proud. Kissís "Shout It Out Loud" locks a groove and the guitars take over. Tim delivers some choice bass work holding it under locked.

Black Sabbathís "Heaven and Hell", Ozzyís "Over the Mountain", Led Zeppelinís "Immigrant Song", Scorpions "Blackout", Kansasís "Carry on Wayward Son", all shine with some great performances. Their version of Iron Maidenís "The Trooper" was creative with the middle section solo, one of the few times they really expanded the original compositions and made it their own. Perhaps making a harmony out of Black Sabbathís "Heaven and Hell" solo section would have been fitting, yet Ozís solo is stellar regardless.

A few moments found me wanting particularly with a slower sounding version of Judas Priest's "Breaking the Law". At times I felt that the version of "Blackout" suffered a little from the tempo. Yet in contrast their version of Van Halenís "On Fire" (perhaps my favorite song from their 1978 debut) ranks on par with the original. Passion, drive and power define this version, can I just keep hitting the replay button!

The overall sound of the album reminds me of a beefier and cleaner Soldiers Under Command. Great sounding tones are achieved and are given their opportunity to breathe and develop. No tight sounding compression that squashes the dynamics and leaves everything flattened. It sounds fantastic.

There is one new track. Entitled "God", it does feature a heavy and haunting melody line. A powerful chorus which will prove to be a show stopper from Mike. The solo section is strong with a fantastic guitar harmony courtesy of Oz and Mike. If this is a preview of their next full length album of original material watch out.

Some may want to wallow in unfounded criticism of the Ďapparent lack of spiritual content.í May I just say how ridiculous that is, the amount of festivals, celebrations and feasts given in Scripture are many. This album is about THE PARTY! THE CELEBRATION! And having some fun.

The Covering is an exceptional release of material that influenced Stryper before they were Stryper. If it wasnít for this stuff there might not be a Stryper. Solid performances and production throughout, The Covering should be a solid addition to any Stryper fanís collection. I wasnít sure at first how Iíd respond to this, but after five spins its double thumbs up from here.

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Carry On Wayward Son
The Trooper
God


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