Michael Sweet: One Sided War

After a fallow period, Sweet has roared back into action. With seven albums in the last six years between his work fronting Stryper, a collaboration with George Lynch, and a solo career, with another Sweet/Lynch album and another Stryper album in the pipeline for 2017. Where Sweet’s previous solo efforts veered away from Stryper’s trademark hair metal into adult contemporary styles, this time around Sweet aims for Against the Law territory, relatively free of keyboards and of Stryper’s stacked vocal harmonies. To differentiate this album from his band work, Sweet works in tandem with lead guitarists Joel Hoekstra (Whitesnake, Trans-Siberian Orchestra) and Ethan Brosh (Burning Heat). Few 80’s vocalists have preserved their upper range as well as Sweet, who retains his power to bring the thunder and the goosebumps. No ballads here; the songs are uniformly heavy, which carries the danger of being overly uniform. The track “Radio” represents a missed opportunity: A critique of rockers-gone-country would be more memorable if done in country style, not just with ten seconds of Dobro bookending a standard metal track. The lyrics cover spiritual and romantic themes. Highlights: “Bizarre”, “One-Sided War”, and the bluesy, autobiographical “One Way Up”.

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