...a collaboration by musicians that are masters at what they do, and what they do is produce heavy rock and roll with one foot in the here-and-now and the other foot on a stage somewhere in the heart of classic rock.
Only To Rise
Sweet & Lynch
12 tracks / 47:28
In a throwback to the days of the 'super-group,' Stryper's Michael Sweet teams up with iconic guitarist George Lynch (LYNCH MOB, ex DOKKEN) to create a 60's and 70's inspired heavy rock extravaganza. The duo enlists the aid of bassist James Lomenzo (ex MEGADETH, WHITE LION, BLACK LABEL SOCIETY) and drummer Brian Tichy (ex WHITESNAKE) to round out the group. Sweet and Lynch co-wrote the twelve songs and Michael, also produced, giving Only To Rise that special Stryper polish but managing to avoid turning the project into a Stryper sound-alike. This isn't to say that Stryper fans will be disappointed in the project – it rocks hard, has great guitar work, driving drums, pumping bass, and Sweet's signature vocals.
"The Wish" is the album's powerful opening track and a good indication of what's to come: a heavy rock attack, hooky guitar riffs, and Sweet's soaring vocals, this time singing about relationships on a level more earthly than Heavenly. Lynch and Sweet are free to do what they do best – Lynch's guitar is loaded with funk and fire, his solos low-down nasty but able to suddenly take off into the guitar stratosphere.
"I'm not opening the broken doors
I'm no staring through the shattered windows
I'm not falling through the open floors
I won't fade like a dying rose "
Sweet sings the lyrics to songs like "Dying Rose," with passion and a sense of fun. Over-all, there's an almost inspirational tone achieved in these non 'religious' tracks. If there's any real message here it's a general feeling of grabbing life and hanging on for the ride. "September," a song about 9/11, is about as serious as the lyrics get here:
"We woke to find the sky was turning black
Our frozen minds could not comprehend
On that bitter day there'd be no turning back
The wound never heals, the scar doesn't mend..."
"Love Stays" introduces a mellotron-like keyboard sound which, at first blush (in the opening moments), reminded me a bit of "Theme For An Imaginary Western," the Jack Bruce song famously performed by Mountain – an association I'm not surprised at since Lynch seems to throw in an homage to Mountain guitarist Leslie West on the guitar break of the excellent fifth track, "Rescue Me."
There are hints of Zeppelin's "Kashmir" on the recurring eastern-sounding riff of "Strength In Numbers," and a phycha-Beatle vocal bridge on "Divine," a song that also features some delightfully nasty licks from Lynch.
There's plenty to enjoy on this versatile heavy rock album, including the stunning ballad, "Me Without You," with its superior hooks, classically-structured lyrics, delicate melody and sensitive performances by both Sweet and Lynch. "Time Will Tell" starts out sounding like the theme from the old X-Men cartoon series but ends up as a powerful arena-worthy anthem (with spiritually provocative lyrics).
Sweet and Lynch's Only To Rise is 'sweet' indeed – a collaboration by musicians that are masters at what they do, and what they do is produce heavy rock and roll with one foot in the here-and-now and the other foot on a stage somewhere in the heart of classic rock.
Bert Saraco www.facebook.com/express.image