In the past few years, Michael Sweet has been working double duty: he has been touring and releasing material with his band, Stryper, while also touring and releasing solo albums. Most recently, Sweet released his seventh solo album One Sided War, the follow up to his 2015 release I’m Not Your Suicide.
Sweet calls One Sided War his heaviest solo album to date. Similar to Stryper’s material, One Sided War has predominately an ’80s metal sound, with only one ballad on the entire album. For his latest release, Sweet sought out some heavy hitters, including Evanescence drummer Will Hunt and Whitesnake guitarist John O’Boyle.
“Bizarre” kicks off the album with heavy guitar riffs, high-energy vocals and intense pounding of the drums. Not once does the intensity subside; the song stays in high tempo for four minutes. To be honest, I was inclined to jump out of my chair, play air guitar and do some serious head banging. The second song on the album–the title track–keeps the intensity moving along. I can imagine WWE using this spiritual warfare anthem as an entrance theme for one of its wrestlers.
The guitar riffs and solos are the highlights of “Can’t Take This Life.” Michael Sweet rocks out with 16-year-old up and coming artist Moriah Formica on the alternate version of “Can’t Take This Life,” the album’s bonus track. Formica and Sweet’s vocals, along with the heavy guitar riffs, make the duet version of this song one of the best tracks on the album.
“Who Am I” is the project’s only ballad. The arrangement in this piece is well done. This song is set up as a duet between Sweet’s vocals and the electric guitar. In the song’s verses, the guitar is used effectively to complement Sweet’s impressively emotional vocals. The different ways the guitar is used in this power ballad is very clever. Without a doubt, “Who Am I” is the most diverse song on the album.
The lyrics in “You Make Me Wanna” could be interpreted as a love song for either God or a girl. “Comfort Zone” and “One Way Up” are album fillers. Most songs on One Sided War sound similar to one another, and the lack of diversity hurts the album’s impact. Oftentimes, Sweet’s voice can’t quite keep up with the album’s heart-pounding guitar solos.
The Bottom Line: All in all, Michael Sweet delivers a solid rock offering with One Sided War. At times, the constant musical intensity becomes mundane and overkill, but One Sided War definitely has its high spots–particularly the impressive guitar riffs.
Song to Download Now:
“Bizarre” (Get it on iTunes here.)