Stryper – or Salvation Through Redemption Yielding Peace, Encouragement (and) Righteousness – formed in Orange County, California, in 1983, when brothers Michael Sweet (vocals and guitar) and Robert Sweet (drums) asked Oz Fox (guitar) and Tim Gaines (bass) to join their Christian hard rock band.
Despite the obvious contradiction between heavy metal‘s historical association with the occult and satanic themes and Stryper’s Christian message and beliefs, the group’s sophomore release, Soldiers Under Command (1985), sold half a million copies.
Stryper’s next album, To Hell With The Devil (1986), fared even better and was certified platinum.
Though Stryper’s sentimental ballads – including the commercially successful and critically well-received Honestly – and pop metal guitar solos fit easily alongside the likes of Poison, Bon Jovi, or Ratt, they just never had the “danger” element that one expected from the genre in which they played. Stryper were the band that your parents wanted you to listen to.
In reaction, Stryper released the controversial Against The Law in 1990, ditching their glammed-up image for darker, more traditional metal and black leather pants.
Longtime fans were put off by the less explicit Christianity, preferring the Stryper that tossed Bibles into the crowd at concerts, even if the album did include the anti-casual sex Not That Kind Of Guy.
After this record, Stryper never found their footing again, pushed out by the newer grunge sound from Seattle, and have only reunited sporadically since.