Reborn is Stryper’s sixth studio album, released in 2005. It was the first album recorded after the band had reunited. In 1992 Stryper decided to disband and Michael Sweet went on to pursue a solo career. 2003 saw the band reunite to record two brand new songs for a greatest hits album. A short, but successful tour ensued. In 2004 long standing bassist Tim Gaines opted to leave the band. Tracy Ferrie, who had previously toured with Michael Sweet, joined the band. It was this new lineup that entered the studio to record Reborn.
The album begins with the song Open Your Eyes and right away you know that this is a new and revived band. Right from the opening chords you immediately know that the 1980’s are over. The guitar tones are heavier and Michael Sweet is singing in a lower register. Reborn is a very different sound from the prior Stryper albums. This is Stryper updated for the twenty-first century. Michael Sweet’s voice may not be what some fans remembered, but he is killing it vocally from start to finish on Reborn. In 2005 the fans of Michael Sweet’s solo career, post Stryper, know that he had lost nothing vocally.
Musically the bright overdriven guitar riffs of the 1980’s are nowhere in earshot. Simpler, heavier guitar riffs are the foundation for the songs of Reborn. Gone are the long, twin harmony guitar solos of prior outings. There is still plenty of lead playing to be found, it is just more subdued. But Reborn is first and foremost a guitar driven, heavy metal album. At the time it was the heaviest album of the band’s career. The songs may be heavier, but the band has not forsaken melody or hook laden choruses.
Overall the songs are slower paced. There are a few ballads present as well, but nothing akin to Honestly. Every song here is guitar driven. The ballad Rain is an exquisite song that contains one of the finest vocal performances of Michael Sweet’s career. The subtlety and sensitivity that he displays throughout this song is absolutely beautiful.
The heaviest song on the album is the thunderous Live Again. Vocally this song most resembles the Michael Sweet of old. But his maturity as a vocalist is displayed throughout. There are moments of subtlety and restraint that work to elevate the passages where he let’s it rip vocally.
I was a big fan of Reborn when it was first released. Twelve years later I love and appreciate this album even more. This is the release that started the Stryper train rolling again.
For better or worse fan outcry lead the band to revisit the sounds of the 1980’s on subsequent albums. This being the case takes nothing away from Reborn. Without the album’s new direction later Stryper masterpieces such as No More Hell To Pay (2013) and Fallen (2015) would not have happened. One could argue that Fallen is the band’s best album. One of the biggest strengths of Fallen is that is successful brings the sounds of 1980’s Stryper into the twenty-first century. Fallen is a throughly modern album that sounds like classic Stryper. The roots of this fantastic album go back to Reborn.
Reborn was a perfect title for the album as the once dead band was now quite alive. Stryper was revived, with a new look and a modern sound. However, the message of spreading God’s love remained the same. Even in the twenty-first century Stryper was still rockin’ for The One who is The Rock. Amen to that!