Sweet & Lynch is: Michael Sweet (Stryper) lead vocals, additional guitars, George Lynch (Dokken, Lynch Mob) guitars, James Lomenzo (White Lion, Megadeth) bass, and Brian Tichy (Whitesnake) on drums. They are joined by Charles Foley and Robbie LaBlanc on backing vocals, and Paul McNamara on organ and keys. Their debut album is ONLY TO RISE (2015, Frontiers Records). In a press release, Michael Sweet shares: “George wrote the riffs and basic ideas and I wrote melodies, lyrics, and arranged and completed the songs. I knew that we would complement each other’s style.” In an interview with www.artistdirect.com Michael reveals: “We worked in separate locations-East Coast and West Coast and there were really no issues at all”. Read ahead to see what I think about this album collaboration between Sweet (a born again Christian) and Lynch (a freethinker/atheist).
‘The Wish’ is a love song in the hard rock vein of Stryper musically: “What I would give to hold you, to smell you on my skin/If you’re dreaming let me in/Girl, I want to love you just like Hollywood/Like a New York Times best selling fairytale/A knight in shining armor who’s defending you/The wish within your well/I feel alive by your side, we create electricity”. ‘Dying Rose’ is another hard rocker. It is the song of one determined to keep on the sunny side of life: “Life is what you make it/It’s all up to you, so they say/If you get knocked down seven times/You just have to get up eight/I’m not opening the broken doors/I’m not staring through the shattered windows/I’m not falling through the open floors/I won’t fade like a dying rose”.
‘Love Stays’ is a power anthem that offers these observations: “When we can build a bridge that lets the wounded cross/We will be found within the darkness where we’re lost/Love-Stays, no it never runs away/Games-Played, lead to nowhere/Hearts-Swayed-Break and go their separate ways/Love-Stays, love stays”. ‘Time Will Tell’ includes wonderful electric guitar work and is about searching for meaning and purpose in life: “I do recall when life was simple/But complications took the prize/I need a sign, I want a symbol/No smoke and mirrors or disguise/Time will tell/If I’m caught between heaven and hell/Is my life an empty shell?/Time will tell”.
‘Rescue Me’ reminds us that we all need companionship: “We’re all searching for that someone/Who makes some sense in all this craziness/Every man and every woman/Needs to fill a void of emptiness/You’re my answer, you’re my resolution/You’re my light in a dark world/I want good company, I need good love/Someone to rescue me/An angel from above/Baby, I want you”. ‘Me Without You’ is a ballad that includes these romantic lyrics: “What good does it do/To have me without you?/A tree without leaves and the sky without blue/Is me without you”.
‘Recover’ is a real headbanger that includes Sweet’s signature high octave screams. It also includes these lyrics that are anything but promiscuous: “I’m a one woman man and honey I won’t be shaken.../Love will recover, forgive each other/Hold to one another/Recover.../We can be free if we wear each other’s shoes”. ‘Divine’ is a hard rock song of encouragement that employs religious language: “You have strength that’s beyond measure/But you’re just too sweet to see/Don’t give in, don’t give out/To all the pressure/Keep The Faith cause you’re the lock that fits the key/Sunshine is divine/It lights up the way/Life’s good and you should be/Molding the clay/Don’t let the sins of the world ever weigh on you”.
‘September’ is a powerful song that reflects on an historic day in the free world: “We woke to find the sky was turning black/And 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, no/Do you remember?/Eleven, September/We still feel the embers in the cold of December”. ‘Strength in Numbers’ is a memorable rocker that encourages unity: “There’s strength in numbers/Where two or more are gathered/Pride only encumbers/The strength in numbers/We’ve got our differences/Pride and ignorance/A wide line’s in between/We never communicate, we always tolerate/The same old common theme”.
‘Hero-Zero’ warns gals against falling for bad guys: “Patience is a virtue/But apparently you’ve never heard the term, no/Tell me why you study/But you never seem to learn/The hero is a zero/He’s just a Highway Man/He’ll burn you worse than Nero/I hope you understand, the hero is a zero”. ‘Only to Rise’, the title track, is a pulsating rocker that ends the album off, as it began, with a love song: “The beauty in your smile/The way you hold yourself/Yeah, it moves me/I was lost for quite a while/Sitting on a shelf and expiring/One look from you and I realize/I’m justified/You make me feel just like I’ve died/Only to rise”.
ONLY TO RISE is simply an incredible album! The songs are marvellously composed and performed. Michael Sweet’s vocals are top notch. His lyrics are clean and full of emotion and prove that a Christian does not have to perform only Christian music. George Lynch’s guitar playing is jaw-dropping! I love all the electric guitar solos. In fact, the musicianship as a whole on this album is some of the best I have heard in a while. I really hope this supergroup puts out a second album. Fans of Stryper, Petra, Whitecross, along with fans of mainstream 80s and 90s bands like Van Halen, should absolutely eat up ONLY TO RISE which I’m rating 95%. For more info visit: www.sweetandlynch.com and www.frontiers.it.