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  • reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2005 1 Aug
Sounds like … the pop-metal of Guardian, Whitecross, Bon Jovi, and classic Petra, which has influenced similar projects from Disciple and Thousand Foot KrutchAt a glance … for their first new studio album in 15 years, it's not bad, but Stryper's Reborn won't wow many listeners outside of the band's die-hard fan baseTrack ListingOpen Your EyesRebornWhen Did I See You CryMake You MinePassionLive AgainIf I DieWait for YouRain10,000 YearsI.G.W.T

A little over 20 years ago, one of Christian music's most famous pop-metal bands debuted—and became one of the first to find crossover success in the mainstream. But considering that they haven't released a studio album since 1990's Against the Law, it's fair to say everyone had assumed Stryper was done … including Stryper. Sure, lead singer Michael Sweet has released some solo albums, but '80s metal seemed to become obsolete after the '90s grunge invasion.

However, metal is enjoying a kitschy revival, and Stryper enjoyed a successful reunion tour in 2003. So it's little surprise that "The Yellow and Black Attack" is back with their ninth album, appropriately titled Reborn. Well, three of the four—bassist Tracy Ferrie now joins Sweet, drummer Robert Sweet, and guitarist Oz Fox after Tim Gaines bid an amicable farewell.

The singing Sweet sounds a bit like a caricature of his younger self, but that's mostly a matter of style. He still belts the high notes out impressively for a forty-something, resembling Styx's Dennis DeYoung or Petra's John Schlitt. The band rocks capably enough on tracks like "Live Again" and "10,000 Years," a driving and dramatic rocker that adapts the text of "Amazing Grace." More anthemic and catchy are "If I Die" and "Rain," while "Passion" satisfies the need for a power ballad of spiritual surrender.

An updated version of "In God We Trust" is fair, but doesn't quite recapture the band's glory. Too many other songs ("Open Your Eyes," "Reborn") lack melodic hooks, making Stryper sound like a generic metal cover band. And maybe it's just me, but too many of the songs end too abruptly out of nowhere. Reborn is done well enough to satisfy the curiosity of die-hard fans—and there still are plenty out there—but it's a little past its prime to draw a significant crop of younger fans.

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