MICHAEL SWEET (Stryper) – Ten (2019)
Building upon the success of his 2016 effort One Sided War, Stryper front man MICHAEL SWEET returns with his tenth solo studio release aptly titled, “Ten”. The album features an all-star guest lineup that includes appearances by Todd La Torre of Queensryche, Tracii Guns of LA Guns, Joel Hoekstra of Whitesnake, Gus G of Firewind, Howie Simon of Jeff Scott Soto and many more.
Produced by Michael Sweet himself, “Ten” features 12 all new tracks of ass kickin’ classic melodic metal / hard rock to be cranked to the maximum.
On the subject of guest musicians Michael comments, “There is a different player appearing on every song. It started out where I was just going to have a couple of guest appearances on it, then I decided that it would be really interesting to bring in different players for every song. I started putting names out there and reaching out to people, and they started agreeing to do it. And then I had guys reaching out to me.”
Regarding the musical direction of the album Michael states, “I’m very excited about this release, there are old-school, straight-ahead classic metal ideas in the vein of Judas Priest, Dio and Iron Maiden, all the stuff I love listening to!”
As for the “Ten” album title, Sweet recently stated, “It’s called ‘Ten’ cause it’s my tenth album, and because there is a title track on there about the Ten Commandments – a really powerful song. There’s real heavy stuff. It starts kind of smacking you in the face and it ends kicking you in the gut.”
Michael Sweet’s new album is titled “Ten”, but this goes to 11. It seriously rocks hard and should be listented cranket to 11.
This album is among the best work Michael has ever done, and that’s saying quite a bit given his nine previous solo albums and extensive discography with the trailblazing Christian metal icons Stryper. It almost seems like the high-octave vocalist and guitar maniac is keeping ’80s heavy metal alive all on his own, given his frenetic output and the consistent quality of each release.
It’s remarkable how well Sweet’s voice has held up over nearly four decades, with scant rest between discs and tours.
There are very few moments to be found on here where Sweet finds himself leaning back into the softer rocking days of yesteryear, and when it does occur, it is handled with a degree of finesse that contrasts massively with the easy-listening fair of the mid-90s.
Punchy groove machines like “Lay It Down” and title track “Ten” have a bit more in common with the handiwork of Tony Iommi and Herman Frank than the sort of Brian May-infused prettiness implied in the earlier works of Sweet’s solo career.
Then high octane cruisers such as “Better Part Of Me” showcase an updated version of what Jake E. Lee took to Ozzy’s mid-80s albums, and closing crusher “Son Of Man” has all the raging fury of Judas Priest circa “Defenders Of The Faith”. To add further brilliance to an already astounding finishing song, the vocal talents of Queensryche’s current front man Todd La Torre are employed in a duet capacity with Sweet’s, bringing a bit of ‘The Needle Lies’ to go along with the obvious ‘Freewheel Burning’ character of the song.
Never Alone (featuring Joel Hoekstra of Whitesnake provides a swirling guitar wotk to the groovin’ edgy hard rocker “When Love Is Hated”, while more muscular ‘street dirt’ punch your ears in Ricochet, featuring Tracii Guns of LA Guns.
A time-honoured tradition of ’80s rock is the power ballad, and few does them better than Michael Sweet. This time it’s “Let It Be Love,” a worthy successor to the MTV smash ‘Honestly’ and 1990’s ‘Lady’.
It all adds up: “Ten” is easily one of the best classic metal albums of 2019, plenty of ideas and sumptous heavy melodies to die for.
01 Better Part of Me (featuring Jeff Loomis of Arch Enemy)
02 Lay It Down (featuring Marzi Montazeri)
03 Forget, Forgive (featuring Howie Simon of Jeff Scott Soto)
04 Now Or Never (featuring Gus G of Firewind)
05 Ten featuring (Rich Ward of Fozzy)
06 Shine (featuring Ethan Brosh)
07 Let It Be Love
08 Never Alone (featuring Joel Hoekstra of Whitesnake)
09 When Love Is Hated (featuring Joel Hoekstra of Whitesnake)
10 Ricochet (featuring Tracii Guns of LA Guns)
11 With You Till The End (feat. Mike Kerr & Ian Raposa from Firstbourne)
12 Son Of Man (feat. Todd La Torre of Queensryche & Andy James)