Review | Stryper – To Hell with the Amps

Independent Release

Stryper has been a consistent force since their founding, with a mere absence of 10 years (’93 – ‘03). Consistently releasing new studio records every few years and supported with tours across the globe, the band has since been a force to reckon with. Lead singer Michael Sweet continues to impress with his powerful vocals. Their enduring productivity over a 40-year history proves critics wrong with each new release. Their studio legacy towers with intensity and musical bliss.


2024 will see Stryper releasing not one but two records, starting with their debut unplugged album, `To Hell with the Amps’. I immediately loved the wordplay for this record, gripping back to their tumultuous `To Hell with the Devil’, which landed them a Grammy award and worldwide discussion. 

The acoustic album, released on May 10th and made available on all streaming platforms, enforces the bands status. While Stryper excels on record, their live performances are even more impressive. Fans who have witnessed Stryper live, whether recently or in the past, know that their shows are not to be missed. Their live act is as ferocious and energetic as the tracks on their albums. This intensity is also captured on this acoustic release, making the songs ooze genuine contemporary stride.


The band’s close harmony delivery is always spot on, benefiting their performances. With their musical marksmanship at the helm, the performances always radiate melodic perfection maintaining the songs enormous appeal and ferocious energy. The interplay between guitarist Oz Fox and Michael Sweet injects impressive duels and intense guitar trade-offs with shred allure amidst its melodic tone of delivery. In the low end of their heavy rocking potion, Perry Richardson lays down his impressive bass lines and chords. His keen ear for melodic playing makes him ground the high intensity guitar interaction and Robert Sweet’s heavy drum dynamics. Sweet’s drums bring the right poise forward to make the songs land with the right dose of heaviness and power. He is one hell of a drummer and onstage, faced sideways, offers a view on his skills and entertaining performance abilities. 

Now, with `To Hell with the Amps’, Stryper offers new acoustic recordings of their most acclaimed songs, all re-arranged and stripped to their bare essence. They resonate on a different level, dropping their heavy instrumentation, and its glam-ish grandeur.


Zooming in on the compositions, it’s inevitable to recognize the band’s impressive song writing skills. The album opens with ,,You Know What to Do”, immediately transporting listeners back to the fond memories of that era. The band’s performance is colorful and vibrant, with guitars strumming and bass ruling the lows. The drums and percussion are tastefully placed underneath, and with Michael Sweet’s vocals at the center, you are drawn into the performance. He echoes like in his prime, and while he may venture less into the helium-high regions, he has gained strength in his mid-range bringing forward a more masculine exposition.

As on their later albums, his versatility and variation have increased, with a crooner-like extension of notes amidst his typical wails and echoes. Keeping the essence of the songs as focal point, both Sweet brothers, along with Fox and Richardson, come together in their slick harmonized choruses. The layers of vocals are astounding, proudly bearing the Stryper benchmark label. 

Pitch perfect are the band’s executions of ,,Calling on You”, ,,Loud & Clear” with its signature guitar twin solo and bass-drum break opening, and ,,Soldiers Under Command” resonating their musical prowess and maintaining their agility while being performed in an intimate setting. These unplugged versions retain the luster and intricacy of the originals. Especially ,,Soldiers under Command”, displaying more stride than the average 80s c*ck-rocker, with their guitar solos and its trade off licks between Oz and Michael kept close to the original, the acoustic version is evenly powerful and fierce. 


It is impressive how seamlessly the newer songs intertwine with their classics on this unplugged release. ,,No More Hell to Pay” exemplifies this blend, showcasing powerful vocals and harmonies. A standout track on the album is ,,Honestly,” a song that gained immense popularity through its MTV music video. Originally a piano-driven ballad, the acoustic version offers a fresh and equally compelling take. This new arrangement strikes deeper and lands intensely, with Michael Sweet’s performance displaying his wonderful range and colorful tone.

Speaking of emotionally charged songs, ,,Lady” delves deeply into ballad-drama and vocal interaction. The newer ,,Make You Mine” matches the magnitude of this hit, with its slightly higher pace and impressive vocal harmonies, much like the stellar performance on ,,Always There for You”.


Special attention should be given to their rendition of the gospel track ,,Amazing Grace”. Re-arranged with fresh appeal while maintaining its timeless quality, the low droning bass contrasts powerfully with acoustic flamenco guitar licks. Subtle keys and drums provide the necessary backdrop for this gospel track, adding to its overall impact.

`To Hell with the Amps’ masterfully translates Stryper’s four-decade-spanning career classics into unplugged versions, preserving their richness despite the acoustic arrangements. With graceful delivery and close harmony interaction at the forefront, the songs maintain their consistency. The top-notch musicianship, combined with the band’s insanely melodic harmonies, reaffirms their mark on hard rock. `All for One’ serves as the perfect closer, encapsulating all the band’s key ingredients while addressing both the world and the band’s unity. 

It’s an exciting listen that will leave fans eager for more. Wonderful, just wonderful!

Release date: 10 May 2024



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