‘One Sided War’
2016 release from RatPak Records.
Michael Sweet – Vocals, guitar. Joel Hoekstra – Guitar (tracks 4, 8, 11). Ethan Brosh – Guitar (tracks 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 12). Will Hunt – Drums. John O’Boyle – Bass. Paul McNamara – Keys, moog. Charles Foley – Additional background vocals. Moriah Formica – Vocals (track 12).
Artist location: USA.
5 out of 5 stars rating.
Reviewed by David.
- One Sided War.
- Can’t Take This Life.
- Golden Age.
- Only You.
- I Am.
- Who Am I.
- You Make Me Wanna.
- Comfort Zone.
- One Way Up.
- Can’t Take This Life (featuring Morah Formica).
(Note: The track listing on the back of the album cover is not in the correct order. The tracks listed above are correct.)
I have to say, I gain more and more respect for Michael Sweet’s writing ability with each new record he puts out. With releases like the phenomenal Stryper records ‘No More Hell To Pay’ and ‘Fallen’ to the outstanding Sweet/Lynch album ‘Only To Rise’ we have seen the rebirth of both Stryper and Michael as he has apparently gotten his second wind and has been giving us some simply magnificent music.
I am a longtime Stryper fan and by such I am a longtime Michael Sweet fan. Sure, there have been the records here and there over the years that we probably all pass over as we are thumbing through our albums, but for the most part the man has been pretty solid with his releases. However I think most will agree that Sweet has really hit his stride and upped his game in the past few years as he has delivered some of the strongest material of his career to date.
From the harder edged beginnings of the self titled solo album, the ‘Real’ and ‘Truth’ records to the church hymns album, ‘Him’, the love songs covers album, ‘Touched’, to the excellent ‘Not Your Suicide’, Sweet’s solo work has definitely been a mixed bag. Of course the purpose of a solo album is usually to do material you can’t do with your band and most of his solo stuff would certainly adhere to that. Not that it’s a bad thing.
That being said, this is probably the closest record he has done to sounding like a Stryper album of late. Songs like ‘Can’t Take This Life’ and ‘Golden Age’, to name a few, could easily fit on some of the bands latest offerings.
By this point anyone who has interest in this album has likely already purchased it or at least heard a song or two from it that were released prior to the album’s release. For those who have not heard it though, the first thing that is obvious upon playing this album is that it is far heavier then anything he has done solo yet, which is something that Michael has been saying from the start so it was no real surprise there. Expect the same writing style that we have seen since 2013, the same catchy melodies, hard rocking songs, uplifting lyrics and blazing guitars that have pervaded each record since then.
The songs are loud, heavy, fast and simply incredible. From the album opener ‘Bizarre’ (click on the link near the top of the page to see the music video) and aforementioned ‘Golden Age’ to ‘One Sided War’, ‘I Am’ and the fun country tinged rocker ‘Radio’, this record delivers in spades and any fan of Sweet’s should be more than satisfied with this one.
Obviously Michael is an incredibly gifted guitarist as we have all seen and heard before on previous releases, but instead of only playing guitar himself on this one he has gathered two outstanding guest guitarists to help out. Joel Hoekstra (Whitesnake) and Ethan Brosh (Solo, Angels Of Babylon) play the majority of the guitars on the record and, obviously, sound phenomenal as they always do.
Also included are Evanescence drummer Will Hunt, bassist John O’Boyle (Tom Ingram Band), keyboardist Paul McNamara and backing vocals from Charles Foley, both of whom have previously worked with Sweet on several records.
The final track features a guest vocalist, the young, up-and-comer Moriah Formica who sounds a bit like Halestorm singer Lizzy Hale on this song. She has a great voice and does an excellent job on the song and more than holds her own with the powerhouse vocalist, no small feat to be sure.
Speaking of the voice of the man behind this record, Sweet’s vocals seemed unaffected by time and age. Sure, we don’t get nearly as many high notes these days, but his voice still sounds insanely good. In fact he seems to have only gotten better with age.
Considering the sheer volume of material that Michael has been releasing the last few years it is astounding that he continually delivers album after album of pure melodic rock greatness. I am not sure where this creative streak came from but he has not disappointed me with any release since before 2013’s ‘No More Hell To Pay’ and I find myself looking forward to a new record from him with a greater enthusiasm with every new album he gives us. And according to Sweet he has several more albums in the works. A thought that thrills me to no end.
This rivals both ‘No More Hell To Pay’ and ‘Fallen’ in strength and is an excellent album that fans of Sweet, Stryper and melodic rock in general will quite enjoy. If you have liked what Michael has been putting out in the past few years then don’t even hesitate.
Most certainly a top contender for album of the year.
Very highly recommended.
‘Can’t Take This Life’.
‘One Sided War’.
‘Who Am I’.