Michael Sweet – One Sided War
Look at the man on the right. Does he look like a bad ass metal God? Or does he look like some douchey guy who’d play rhythm guitar for the Eagles?
Either way, Michael Sweet’s been a part of my life since I picked up Stryper’s To Hell With The Devil on cassette back in 2002. The first and final word on nonsecular mainstream metal, they were frenetic thrashers at their earlier best and sterile hairspray losers at their absolute worse.
After reuniting the band’s classic line-up for over a decade, Stryper released Fallen last year, their heaviest and probably best album yet. Michael Sweet touted the band’s new sound in countless interviews, talking about his love for classic metal bands and how happy the band was to be recording in a harder style.
But I didn’t expect Sweet’s newest solo album to be ten times more amazing. His previous entries didn’t stray too far from melodic hair. Things remain extremely poppy on acceptable tracks like “Radio” and the one absolute abomination, “One Way Up”, but the rest rips hard. “Bizarre” and “Golden Age” are heavier than anything off Fallen, and the slower rockers like “Comfort Zone” and “I Am” are totally solid.
In all honesty, the album peaks at it’s slowest point, the epic “Who Am I”. Burning slow at eighty beats per minute, the opening verse’s bleeding chords and chorus’s soaring lead are a delicious and sincere aside among all the metal riffage. After finishing the album, I replayed it three times just to really grasp what was going on.
Overall though, I’d say most of One Sided War doesn’t take long to sink in. While some of the robust vocal melodies are recycled from previous Stryper releases, the riffs and performances are powerful and fun. Many metalheads will never embrace the glossy production, but at the end of the day, when all is screamed and thrashed, consistent songwriting and bombastic power are all any true metal fan, and thus Michael Sweet fan, really wants.