“Speak of the devil“, announce Stryper on the title track of their 1986 opus To Hell With The Devil, “He’s no friend of mine!”
Not only this, but “To turn from him is what we have in mind.”
No offense to Stryper, I mean, shit, man, it’s a kinda easy target and all that, but I’m not that sure that Lucifer will be all too bothered. I think that if they really wanted to put the shits up the old bastard, then maybe those sentiments should have been altered along the lines of, say, “Hey, The Devil, how about we hang out at your place this weekend and maybe play some tunes to all your friends?”
I reckon that right there would be all a fella would need to make Satan think twice the next time he feels like, I dunno, swallowing a soul or two, or inventing Joel Schumacher.
Then again, man, To Hell With The Devil went platinum, for fucks sakes, so obviously somebody was buying it. Whoever it was, though, I sure as hell ain’t ever met them. Anytime I bring the topic up, folks just look at me like I had a dick up my nose or someshit.
To Hell With The Devil, y’see, ain’t ever going to be the coolest record to have in a fella’s record collection. Even though they had the whole yellow and black ensemble going on, even though they had mullets and mascara and everything, even that don’t raise the credibility a solitary motherfucking notch.
However, I would go so far as to say that the whole melding of the hymns and the “ROCK” as evidenced in the work of these sons a bitches, I’d say it’s worth an accolade or two.
Who in this day and age would have the balls required to slap a thrash riff around the kinds a stuff you wouldn’t even hear in a Presbyterian church on account of it sounds a bit “Christian”? Who, motherfucker? Hardly anyone, is what I would guess.
Also, if the listener is prepared to utilize the old imagination and all, there’s some mighty swell narrative developments going on here;
Sometimes, for example, To Hell With The Devil plays like one of those Nick Hornby novels about a fella fancies this lass but doesn’t know were he stands and then there’s all sorts of hilarious and poignant episodes. Calling On You, for instance, is the kinda song you write after you go with this really cool person at a club or something, but you’re not that sure if they’re interested, and you keep ringing this number they gave but, as time goes on, you get the notion that the number was nothing but a bare-faced motherfucking lie.
“I’m calling on you“, he hollers, again and again and again. “Calling on you!!“. Then some more stuff about “I’m calling on you!“.
I mean, I don’t mean to be a fuck or nothing, but if you’re calling so often and at that damn volume, I think there’s something up if they don’t hear you, man. Like, one time I went with this girl, and I stood outside her window the next night and sung one of those songs off of Green Day’s first record about how much I love you, for Gods sakes. She tried to fool The Duke with that old “I can’t hear you” routine, but I know she heard, man, since not only did the curtains pull back at least three times, but also the police arrived shortly thereafter. I’m guessing that these Stryper cats are gonna be getting a visit from the PD sometime soon.
By the fifth track, Honestly, the tactics have shifted somewhat. Now, he says, well, shucks, man, I’ll leave a message and you can call me if you want, or don’t call me if you want, it’s cool. “Call me and I’ll be there for you“, he roars.
In Rockin’ The World, he says about “We don’t want to push you“, and The Duke felt a bit sorry for him, to be honest.
Of course, that shit only works if you indeed adopt the whole Romantic Comedy approach. If you take it as intended, ie, it’s all about Jesus, then obviously it’s nowhere near as tear-jerking.
It’s easy to make fun of these people, let’s not beat around the motherfucking hedge. In all honesty, though, The Duke feels that, maybe, these fellas deserve a little bit more than a giggle and a pointed finger. In an industry geared constantly towards the hip, the fashionable, the marketable, it takes some serious balls for a commercial rock-band to have a song yack on about “Anyone who asks will receive Jesus in your heart.”
OK, it’s grammatically lacking, but still, man. Balls, is what that kinda stuff takes.
The ironic thing is, guessing from the pitches of those voices, I’d say no-one in Stryper has been in possession of a testicle since they were 11 years old.
And you wanna know something truly fucking jaw-slapping? Lined up against, say, Girls Girls Girls by Motley Crue, this thing shines like a military cadet’s freshly buffed footwear.
Admittedly, though, the whole “Christian message in Secular package” gets a bit confused now and again. Whoever they were thinking about when they wrote the lyrics – “Then you came to me / shining as the morning sun / you gave your love to me / and I knew you were the one” – I don’t think they had a beard. It’s like in that South Park episode where Cartman forms a Christian rock band and just changes the lyrics to love songs so as they’re about Jesus.
Other times, the focus is reigned in tight as the trousers, is what. “We are here to rock you“, they announce, “And to say To Hell With The Devil!”
Yeah, it’s as cheesy as the moon used be by all accounts, but give the motherfuckers some credit, would you ever? This is no more embarrassing than most other cock-rock pish you might find scurrying from the gutters of the 1980’s.
You do have to wonder what the fella himself thinks of it all, though. I’m sure he’s flattered as all hell, but at the same time, you get the feeling he’d kill for a Hot In Herre.
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