Stryper hit the hard rock scene more than 30 years ago, and Hollywood’s fabled Sunset Strip was the band’s playground. Back then, when they called themselves Roxx Regime, four pretty dudes wearing spandex and mascara wasn’t out of the ordinary. But a metal band that loudly professed its faith, throwing Bibles into the audience, was as radical as Ozzy Osbourne biting a bat’s head off.
Christians and non-Christians alike were aghast. Yet, Stryper achieved mainstream success in the mid-’80s, garnering a worldwide fan base. They had more than a gimmick; they were as “heavy metal” as any or their contemporaries. Then the downturn began in the early ’90s with the emergence of grunge. Stryper’s MTV airplay went dark, along with every other hair band, ad nauseam.
Live at the Whisky, recorded in November 2013 at the Whisky a Go Go on that same Sunset Strip, was released in late September. Live at the Whisky documents the intimate performance in the same room where The Doors, Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin performed.
History aside, this live recording affirms that Stryper has stayed true to the hard and heavy roots that made them popular in the first place. One of the biggest draws of Stryper’s music is the incomparable style and sound of the Michael Sweet/Oz Fox guitar duo. That sound comes across well throughout the album, and it’s often hard to differentiate the two players. “Marching Into Battle” shows Sweet and Fox laying scorching guitar work. Drummer Robert Sweet and bassist Tim Gaines — both original member — provide a colossal rhythm for the varied set of songs, including a few songs from the recent album.
The DVD shows the onstage physicality of the rockers, most notably Robert Sweet’s attack. “More Than a Man”, with its galloping Iron Maiden-like rhythm, puts everything that’s Stryper all together in an ultra-tight barrage, ending with Sweet’s trademark scream.
The set list includes a few songs from last year’s No More Hell to Pay record, including the cover of the Doobie Brothers’ “Jesus is Just Alright.”
Live at the Whisky is a must-have for any Stryper fan, and is a great listen for anyone who can appreciate this brand of guitar-driven, melodic rock.