By Mike Ritchie for Xombiewoof Magazine
In an era when the devil ‘might’ have been more popular in the genre they started in and with a large army of bands sporting devil horns, inverted crosses and certain downturned stars along with dark artwork/imagery of any and all kinds, Stryper (www.facebook.com/Stryper) was a band that bravely and faithfully went against the norm. Heavy metal, the style that’s always been associated with the dark one and his loud, hellish minions trying to steer youth down the left hand or wrong path, as loud preachers, teachers and the PMRC would’ve had you believe.
Regardless of how serious and far bands took the widespread ‘look and image’ Stryper stood against the ‘evils’ of metal. A pseudo feud with King Diamond ensued in the 80’s. Several huge records in the decade proved their appeal and talent regardless of the haters, naysayers and people yelling ‘fakes’. Stryper waved the yellow and black flag giving the audience a dose of heavy Godliness despite whatever their contemporaries thought. They played a career spanning set including other bands songs from The Covering and newly rekindled, restructured, rerecorded and rechristened songs from way back to modern day. On July 31st they brought the biblical bedlam that, thank God for now, hasn’t come to be… yet.
The two man duo Lyonhart (www.facebook.com/lyonhartmusick) opened the evening. With the "Modern Day Psalmist" Joe Rojas on vocals, guitar and samples and Timm E. on Drums they cranked out a unique noise flavored with middle-eastern sounds and a Gorguts meets Sepultura delivery. A Christian music vision conceived in 2000 to share the message and testimony of Jesus through industrial metal. Founded by Rojas, Lyonhart arrived locally in 2004 with dance rhythms, 1980's keyboard sounds, heavy guitars, and spoken word vocals. Through technology they’ve pushed their music to the next level away from ordinary Christian band descriptions. In 2010 Lyonhart took its music to secular venues and were interviewed on internet radio. The music continues to grow but the message that Jesus Saves, Jesus Cares and Jesus is the answer remains unchanged. They started it off with Fear, about the restoration of God, filmed for a video and done ‘somewhat’ karaoke style. A song about letting God take control had a share of dance mix samples as they fought through some technical difficulty and a bad guitar cord. A Psalm for You was bluesy with female background vocals and a toned down but strong, dedicated message finishing with heavy guitar. They end with a message of being strong, pressing forward as a Christian while people try and pull you backwards.
Lyken 21 (www.facebook.com/Lyken21) comes from the ‘other coast’ in New Jersey bringing four albums worth of material to the stage. Labeled as ‘generation next’ they’ve played support to Overkill, Kings X, Skid Row, Wasp, LA Guns and an expanding group of Rock n Roll royalty as they’re again on the road supporting their newest release Taboo’s Tyranny. They started with the power metal, Di’Anno era Maiden meets Queensryche groove of Lost Head from Konceptus. It’s Chaos Before the Crime on Revelation Reality as Maiden meets a little Mindcrime. Marton Miklos announced since a picture of Jim Morrison was hanging on the wall they should play a Doors song, so they Break on Through. Next they played an unreleased song about life on the road called Divide. You can never go wrong with road warrior tunes. They pulled out the Psycho Scream and find a nice Sunday Hollywood blonde on Street Lover. They finished with the bass buzzing, guitar sizzle of Why Ask Why.
Gabbie Rae (www.facebook.com/GabbieRaeRocks) played direct support to the yellow and black. The New England born singer has been busy since age 7. At 12 was signed to Outkast’s Purple Ribbon Kidz Label and her Neverland Video was featured on VH1′s Best Week Ever, Billboard and Rolling Stone. In 2011 she released “Don’t Look Down” her Official Anti-Bullying Music Video and is an Ambassador for Free2Luv.org. Rae has also covered Dio, Iron Maiden and Night Ranger on stage. She’s just getting started and playing the Whisky at such a young age is another momentum builder for her path to success.
She started the acoustic show with a tribute to the inhabitants of Skid Row, I’ll Remember You. She played her first official single and title track of her upcoming EP, the country-rock combo Scream. She went old school playing Queen of the Reich. Taking a page from Great White’s MTV unplugged show she sang Babe I’m Gonna Leave You, finishing with lots of Heart with Crazy on You.
God opened the show for Stryper as he probably always does spreading the word of Revelation and the second coming through Michael Sweet’s high pitched wail. The message is heard Loud N Clear from the old school days to the modern day version. They Reach Out to guide away from the darkness and loneliness of life, Calling On You, the never ending/leaving source of comfort and love.
Going back to 1986, being Free to do what you want because he’s More Than a Man, he’s the creator. Bringing ‘the word’ to current year they’ve paid their dues and have No More Hell to Pay. They started in the 80’s but still modern day warriors, playing the monstrous riffs of Marching Into Battle.
Gabbie Rae returned as they break open the covers with Carry on Wayward Son and Shout It Out Loud with Kiss, a band that wore more makeup then them. In the year of our lord, 1988, In God We Trust, he’s Always There for You. Taking a page from Against the Law they’re All for One and one for all, united, the way it should be.
We’re still Caught in the Middle… of 1990 but Honestly speaking, ’86 was a cooler year for big hair/power ballads but they nevertheless found/spoke of The Way to musical salvation. Going back they’ve been Soldiers Under Command since 1985, a year after the first sting of the Yellow and Black Attack.
The encore led into the ominous keyed intro of the Abyss then the national anthem for all the God fearing/loving Stryper fans and believers everywhere, To Hell with the Devil! It’s their Legacy to continue shredding and speaking the word through loud microphones and guitars.
Photography by Mike Ritchie www.facebook.com/mike.ritchie.338
Read more from the pit articles and reviews by Mike Ritchie on his web site www.coveringthescene.com