It appears Michael Sweet never got the message about slowing down or becoming mellower with age. Since 2014 Sweet has released two very heavy Stryper albums; NO MORE HELL TO PLAY and FALLEN and on his own I'M NOT YOUR SUICIDE and a team-up with guitarist George Lynch for ONLY TO RISE. Not only is that a lot of music... it's quality music, too. Ad to this collection Michael Sweet's latest solo release, ONE SIDED WAR!
On first listen it is obviously Sweet's hardest solo release to date. Not to say it is an all out riff attack, but it is heavy. There is a modern and completely fresh sound, but the album doesn't hide his influences at all.
ONE SIDED WAR starts off with the first single/release 'Bizarre' which has an almost classic Van Halen feel to it. Like any great album kick off song, this one sets the tone for what to expect. The next two songs; 'One Sided War' and 'Can't Take This Life' continue with powerful playing, amazing harmonies and Sweet's trademark and never failing vocals, especially on the title track. Things change up a bit for 'Radio', a country-twinged rocker that took a little time to get used to with its comical lyrics and chugging guitars; complete with steel guitar to give it that twang.
Joining Sweet on this album is an all star team of players; drummer Will Hunt (Evanescence), bassist John O'Boyle and guitarists Ethan Brosh and Joel Hoekstra who recently tore it up on Whitesnake's THE PURPLE ALBUM. On songs like 'Golden Age' (my favorite off the album), the slower 'Who Am I' and 'Comfort Zone' it is more than obvious that Sweet collected players that can not only play, but mesh well together.
For me there are two surprises on this album. 'You Make Me Wanna' could easily be a radio hit... if radio played good music anymore. It's loaded with hooks, nice guitars and almost an 1980's Stryper moment mixed with some Dokken and KISS. Rounding out the disc (the bonus track) is another version of 'Can't Take This Life', this time featuring vocals by Moriah Formica, a 15 year old rocker with a big voice and a ton of talent! Moriah will be releasing her own cd soon featuring a song with Michael Sweet.
What I have loved about Michels Sweet's solo career is that no two of his albums sound alike, but are connected by his incredible voice and heartfelt songwriting. ONE SIDED WAR carries on that tradition and somehow walks the line between what new music fans wanna hear and what Michael Sweet's fans expect! A perfect balance!
MATMAN Rating - 5 out of 5 sonic screams
ONE SIDED WAR will be released on August 26, 2016 by Rat Pak Records and is available for pre-order at www.ratpakrecords.com