I could not resist the urge to buy this Stryper Extended Versions CD, (Sony/BMG). Two reasons I needed this Stryper Extended Versions: it being a live CD, coupled with the fact I was fortunate enough to see Stryper live, back in the ’80’s on their To Hell With The Devil Tour. Yup, I made up my Metal mind a long time ago, that Stryper is my favorite Christian Heavy Metal Band. Let’s face it, Stryper back in the 1980’s were easily part of the Hair Metal invasion as well. I like the accessibility of Stryper’s songs, they are inspiring and motivating for certain, combined with all of the dynamics and elements of 1980’s Heavy Metal. This Extended Versions CD was recorded back on November 11, 2003, at Earthlink Live in Atlanta, Georgia. The release year for this CD was 2006. The overall production of this live CD sits just fine with me. I will admit, after 12 years of Stryper not touring before this concert was recorded, they sound pretty darned good. (Michael Sweet actually remarks about their return after 12 years to the audience, during the opening song Makes Me Wanna Sing).

As with any live album, there are those – as they happen moments, such as Michael Sweet talking to the audience and an over excited crowd of fans shouting, screaming and singing along. Those aspects have always been what I find most refreshing about a live album… especially when the band plays as tight and good as Stryper does here. Free is and always has been a tremendously favorite Stryper song of mine, hearing Michael Sweet sing this song as the audience sings along sends chills up and down my arms. Oz Fox on guitar sounds unreal good in this 2003 concert recording, just as he did when I saw him for myself so many years ago. You Won’t Be Lonely is a great up tempo ballad for my Metal tastes… it makes for a nice fit into this live set list. Calling On You, being one of the more famous Stryper songs ever, has all of the melodic power and harmony as the original studio version, a fantastic song from this band.

Reach Out is a sure-fire crowd sing-along, yet, what Stryper song isn’t? The Way is arguably one of the fastest and heaviest Stryper song on this live Extended Versions, Oz Fox energizes this song with his stealth guitar leads and hot solo. Soldiers Under Command plays out in the same fast and heavy fashion as The Way, a Stryper song that is a necessity in any of their live gigs. Again, Oz Fox stimulates my Metal senses with his guitar brilliance on Soldiers Under Command – oh yeah. Timothy Gaines on bass and backing vocals along with Robert Sweet on drums are the Heavy Metal nuts and bolts that keeps this live album rhythmically astounding. Brent Jeffers is on keyboards and backing vocals, making for a nice addition to this Stryper concert.

Another favorite Stryper classic of mine is To Hell With The Devil, it is song #9 in the set list and it flat out rocks this Extended Versions into a Christian Heavy Metal winner. Stryper plays this song live quite powerfully, based on my remembrance of actually seeing them live and hearing it on this CD. Honestly closes out this Stryper Extended Versions CD. The live version of Honestly is not any heavier than the studio version, this ballad has its rightful place in any Stryper concert. Before this song even begins, Michael Sweet tells the audience, Honestly is the song that took them out of the clubs and put them into the arenas. I will not disagree with Michael Sweet on that evaluation whatsoever.

I bought this Stryper Extended Versions CD over this past Summer of 2009, I’m glad for it. I am also happy to know that Stryper is still around and making their brand of Heavy Metal Music, their new album Murder By Pride is an enormous album of songs. Sometime in the future I will blab about how much I enjoy the newest Stryper album. I am a fan of all Heavy Metal genres, Stryper is and always will be a mainstay band of mine.



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