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'There's something special about that album': Stryper's Michael Sweet talks 'To Hell With the Devil'

The front man calls its songs 'the perfect merge of metal and pop, which is really who we are'

We recently sat down with Stryper front man Michael Sweet to discuss his band's fierce new album, The Final Battle. But inevitably, talk eventually turned to what is arguably the Christian metal act's most famous record, 1986's breakthrough To Hell With the Devil.

In particular, writer Matt Wake brought up the leadoff single from that effort, the ultra-catchy anthem "Calling On You." Asking Sweet what he recalled about writing or recording that one, the singer and guitarist went into a longer remembrance about the record in general, saying:

"Well, that whole album, To Hell With the Devil, I remember writing that album and thinking it was special. [The title track] 'To Hell With the Devil' and even 'Honestly,' whether you like ballads or not, some people do, some people don’t.

"But I just remember writing those songs, singalong songs, and thinking there's something special about this album. 'Calling On You' obviously and 'Free,' those two songs probably were two that I got really excited about, because I felt like they were a perfect merge of metal and pop, which is really who we are."

Sweet continued, "It’s not that we were trying to be something that we're not, it's that we listened to bands like Maiden and then after the Maiden album would finish, we’d throw on a Journey album. Or a Loverboy album. Or a Survivor album. And we listened to all that stuff and loved and appreciated it just as much as Priest and Maiden and Van Halen and Dio and all that stuff.

So I think that helped to define who we were as a band and who I was as a writer. And that's what helped to bring about songs like 'Calling On You.' It's more of a pop-metal song."

Bringing the conversation back around to The Final Battle, Sweet finished by saying, "And then you have some songs on this new album that are similar to that. You know, maybe 'Same Old Story' might be defined that way. It’s a little more pop-metal. It’s got a little more melody to it. Songs like 'Till Death Do Us Part,' that's got a little bit more of a pop-metal thing to it. That's another side of what we do and who we are, as listeners, as fans and as artists."