Stryper’s powerhouse vocalist Michael Sweet and guitar maestro George Lynch, formerly of Dokken, have joined forces here and the result is a truly incredible album that’s better than anything either of them has done in quite a while. Not that either of them have put out bad music during recent years, mind you. George Lynch has been putting out solid music with Lynch Mob and Souls of We and Michael Sweet has been putting out wonderful records with Stryper and as a solo artist. Where some artists spend most of their time touring for income, it seems Sweet and Lynch would rather make new music regularly. If you tour, you probably make more money than you’d make off of releasing one album, since more people will go see you live than buy your albums, being that people are big on nostalgia these days and want to relive their high school years at concerts. But, here’s the thing: these artists do have a very loyal core audience who want new music from them. So, if you put out three albums in two years, you’ll probably make as much money from that core audience as you would have from touring constantly. And while playing live can be a thrill, these guys are getting up there in years and have families they’d prefer to be with than being out on the road nine months out of the year. Plus, being creative, writing and recording new songs, is likely to be a lot more fulfilling than playing show after show where the fans just want to hear the old hits and mostly don’t give a damn about your new music. In a perfect world, the fans who want to hear new music would make up most of the concert going audience. Unfortunately, they’re out-numbered by the nostalgia freaks. Of course, I could be totally wrong about all of this, but I’m reasonably sure I’m not. And while I’m talking about the two types of fans, I’m definitely one of those fans who want new music. I go see a lot of these “hair bands” — I hate that term, but it’s inescapable — do shows in the Wolf Den at Mohegan Sun Casino and it’s nice hearing the classics, but I always get more excited when they do new songs. Well, provided they don’t suck. I’ve heard new songs from a couple of bands that were pretty bad, but I won’t name them because I feel like I can’t entirely judge songs just based on how they sounded live.
But, back to the record on repeat… The musical marriage of Sweet and Lynch is a beautiful thing. And it’s not just because Sweet’s vocals pair as well with Lynch’s solos as wine goes with chocolate. It’s because they’ve written some grade A songs here. From the patriotic reminder of 9/11 that is “September” to “Hero-Zero,” which speaks out against hypocritical heroes who might as well be the devil in disguise, there’s not a bad song in the bunch. And where most albums start out with the best songs during the first half these days, I actually prefer the second half of Only To Rise. With each song, the album just keeps getting better and better. Now, that’s how you hook the listener, not putting out albums with two or three good songs and a ton of filler. I know it’s such a cliche thing to say, but this album really is all killer, no filler. If you like addictive melodies and old school heavy metal riffs, you won’t be disappointed by this one. Now I’m going to stop typing and cross my fingers in hopes that this duo will tour behind the album. Or, at the very least, make another one.