It is not often that fundamental disagreements between band members become art, Fleetwood Mac notwithstanding. Yet, two representatives of 1980’s metal, Michael Sweet of Stryper and George Lynch of Dokken, are doing exactly that with their group, Sweet & Lynch.
According to Blabbermouth.net, metal (super)group, Sweet & Lynch has plans for a third album. In an interview with the website, guitarist George Lynch explains that “Michael [Sweet] is a Christian, and I’m of a different persuasion, we always have those discussions…Not arguments. Next record, I’ll be advocating for one side of the argument, and he’ll be advocating for another.”
In the course of the article, Lynch was not able to state for certain that the third album would happen, only that he wanted it to happen, and if it did, the debate theme would be the concept for the album.
The other news, of course, is that former members of immensely popular heavy metal bands have formed a band and released two albums to date. While fans wait to hear what Sweet & Lynch do next, it is prudent to look at what they’ve done in the past.
The rest of Sweet & Lynch consists of bassist James LoMenzo (Megadeth and White Lion) and drummer Brian Tichy (Dead Daisies, Whitesnake).
Sweet, Lynch and 1980’s metal
Michael Sweet is best-known for being the lead singer of Stryper (his brother Robert played drums) – – a band known as much for its black and yellow outfits as for its Christian message. In the late 1980s, the band’s videos for singles from “In God We Trust” were in heavy rotation on Music Television. Sweet’s stratospheric vocals and the band’s classic metal sound (not to mention the members’ big hair) made Stryper an unforgettable part of the 1980s.
Some of Stryper’s songs were ambiguous, meaning they didn’t have to be interpreted as Christian if the listener didn’t hear them that way. “Lonely” for example, could be a romantic song for some audiences. Other songs, such as “The Reign” and “In God We Trust” (title track), were decidedly Christian and arguably feature some of the band’s best work.
On the other end of the spectrum, was Dokken. The band was more of the hedonistic-type Los Angeles metal band. George Lynch played lead guitar and along with singer Don Dokken’s charismatic vocals made Dokken a powerhouse band. Their hits “Breakin’ the Chains,” “It’s Not Love” and “Into the Fire,” helped to keep Dokken in constant rotation on radio stations as well as Music Television.
Dokken’s fame grew in the late 1980s when their single “Dream Warriors” was included in the horror film franchise, “Nightmare on Elm Street.” The movie’s theme was succinctly tied up in the song’s lyrics. The song exposed the band to audiences who had no clue who Dokken was.
While the performers’ respective bands have suffered personnel changes or broken up, Sweet & Lynch combine to craft impressive heavy metal that is more contemporary than throwback.
Sweet & Lynch: a new metal tradition
The first Sweet & Lynch album was released in 2014. Titled “Only to Rise,” the release is a mix of moody heavy hits and face-melters. That album was followed by 2017’s “Unified,” which contains the outstanding singles “Afterlife,” “Walk,” and “Bridge of Broken Lies.”
The video for “Walk” finds Sweet using at least one “bad” word – – which audiences who only remember him from Stryper will find shocking. Still, what the band brings back is the verve and humor that marked so many heavy metal videos in the 1980s. It is good to see a band show personality. The song itself is a mix of rapid-fire lyrics and instrumentation that breaks down for impact and picks back up again. The point of the song is to remind people to take the high ground to be free. The song is half over before audiences are treated to Sweet’s characteristic high notes. Overall, it sounds like metal musicians doing something new, not attempting to recapture so-called glory days.
“Afterlife” is moody and dark. It has elements that will remind some audiences of a mix between Twisted Sister’s “Burn in Hell,” and Alice in Chain’s “Rooster,” with a touch of Dokken’s “Mr. Scary.” In between, there is a heavy blues-rock groove. Lyrically this song sounds like something that could have come from 21st century Stryper. It seems to be about human shortcomings, and how humans can’t save themselves. Sweet’s voice is deeper and more powerful than ever. However, the backing vocals are stellar on both songs mentioned here. Fans can only hope that there will be a third Sweet & Lynch album. In the meantime, the current album is worth repeated spins.