Written by: Jay Heilman (5/9/2024)

For the majority of bands that got their start in the early 1980’s or before – many are either no longer around, quit putting out albums, or both.  For the iconic Christian metal band STRYPER, the end still seems far off in distance with the band still churning out new studio records full of music every couple of years, followed by full tours across the country to support them.  Not only that, but lead singer Michael Sweet, despite turning 61 in July, sounds just as amazing vocally now as he’s ever been. Aside from his STRYPER releases, Sweet also managed to put out even more projects, with solo releases along with his collaboration projects – with Sweet & Lynch as well as more recently, Sun Bomb.  Not too many artists or bands can make that claim after a 4o-year history, yet Michael Sweet and company continue to prove their critics wrong release after release.

With 2024 nearly half way in, STRYPER has already promised two releases this year. The first, is the band’s very first acoustic unplugged record, To Hell With The Amps, coming May 10th.  And to get fans even more excited, is the yet-to-be-named follow up record to their 2022 release, The Final Battle, which will be coming this fallAs good as the band is on record, they are even more impressive live.  For the majority of fans who have seen STRYPER play live – whether recently or ‘back in the day’ – you’ll probably agree that its definitely a show not to miss, if they are coming to town.  STRYPER’s live act is just as ferocious and energetic as the tracks that make up each of their records.  So, for fans that have not been lucky enough to witness a STRYPER show in person, have had to settle for listening to the band’s 2014 record, Live from the Whiskey.  Despite everything the band has done in their career, their latest release offers something that they’ve never done on a record – play unplugged. With To Hell With The Amps, STRYPER takes many of their most notable electric tracks, including “Calling On You”, “L0ud & Clear” and “Soldiers Under Command”, presenting them to fans in broke-down, unplugged and acoustic renditions, that I might add don’t lose any of the luster and intricacy of the originals.

One such track, that’s composition and arrangement most impressed me on the record was their smash hit, “Honestly”.  The track, one that gained sky-high popularity with its music video constantly airing in rotation on MTV,  is predominantly known as a “ballad”, with the piano being more of song’s driving force, rather than the band’s normal guitar-heavy approach.  It sounds different from the original, but it’s one I found myself listening to on repeat.  I came to a conclusion that I really liked it, even comparing it’s new arrangement and feel, to what guitar legend Eric Clapton did with his famed rock ballad “Layla”, on his 1992 MTV Unplugged record.

Another track that I very much enjoyed, even though going into it I was asking myself, “How are they going to do this one and it not sound like the million other covers out there?” – was “Amazing Grace”.  I was pleasantly surprised in how much I enjoyed that one.  Then again, I really shouldn’t have been, considering the amazing renditions of classic hymns Michael pulled off and presented for his 2006 solo release Him. STRYPER managed to not only cover one of the most covered hymns of all-time, but present it in a way that had it still come across as fresh, yet still timeless.

Overall, I very much enjoyed To Hell With The Amps and felt that they not only translated their hit songs masterfully into unplugged versions, but that they still managed to present them “full of meat” despite their acoustic-driven arrangements.  Definitely an exciting listen that will leave you clamoring for more!

Rating here 4.7/5

Released: May 10, 2024

Label: Flat Iron Recordings

Track Listing:

  1. You Know What To Do [Acoustic] (4:56)
  2. Soldiers Under Command [Acoustic] (4:49)
  3. No More Hell To Pay [Acoustic] (4:53)
  4. Make You Mine [Acoustic] (3:49)
  5. Loud & Clear [Acoustic] (3:49)
  6. Lady [Acoustic] (4:48)
  7. Honestly [Acoustic] (4:26)
  8. Calling On You [Acoustic] (4:08)
  9. Amazing Grace [Acoustic] (4:49)
  10. Always There For You [Acoustic] (4:10)
  11. All For One [Acoustic] (4:36)

11 Tracks, 49:17

Buy on iTunes

More from STRYPER:

  • The Yellow and Black Attack (1983)
  • Soldiers Under Command (1985)
  • To Hell With The Devil (1986)
  • In God We Trust (1988)
  • Against The Law (1990)
  • Can’t Stop The Rock (1991)
  • 7 Weeks: Live In America (2004)
  • Reborn (2005)
  • The Roxx Regime Demos (2007)
  • Murder By Pride (2008)
  • The Covering (2010)
  • Second Coming (Re-Recorded) (2013)
  • No More Hell To Pay (2013)
  • Live At The Whisky (2014)
  • Fallen (2015)
  • God Damn Evil (2018)
  • Even The Devil Believes (2020)
  • The Final Battle (2022)
  • To Hell With The Amps (2024)
  • TBD (2024)

Visit STRYPER’s Official Site Here