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38 Years in the Making

When I first heard Stryper's "To Hell With the Devil," I was a senior in high school. I could never have imagined having a son in the 21st century, that one of the most influential artists on his musical taste would be a band from Australia, or that his favorite band and mine would come together around an iconic metal song. So how did we get to today?

For King, Country, and Stryper

On Sunday, November 22, 2015, our family saw for King & Country in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. Because the tickets had been part of a birthday present for our son, we had purchased the VIP package, which included a Q&A time with Joel and Luke Smallbone prior to the concert. When the microphone came near to us, we asked what their musical influences had been, and that was when I first learned the connection between this hot, new band and Stryper. The Smallbone brothers explained how their father, a music promoter, had brought the Yellow & Black Attack to Australia in the '80s.

A couple of years later, Michael Sweet, lead guitarist and vocalist of Stryper, was conducting a workshop at Sweetwater Sound about his new Michael Sweet Preamp and Multi-effects Pedal. I was able to ask him a question about his connection with for King & Country, and he told more of the story, including how he had once held the future music star Rebecca St. James on his knee when she was little.

Unsung Hero

Move ahead to February of this year. Our family went to see for King & Country again as they played in concert at Purdue University. Prior to the concert, Joel and Luke Smallbone hosted a screening of their upcoming movie Unsung Hero, which tells the story of their father and his struggles and triumphs as he brought his family to the United States from Australia. An early scene in the movie shows Stryper (actors portraying the band) playing in Australia, and I nearly came out of my seat. Once again, there was the connection between the favorite bands of a father and son.

A Classic Remade

Today two videos dropped featuring Lecrae, for King & Country, and Stryper, a lyric video and an official music video. The song is "To Hell With the Devil (Rise)," featuring new lyrics, but with lines and music from the Stryper classic, and is included on the soundtrack for the film.

As they say, haters gonna...well, you know. Metal purists want to hear the original Stryper song from 1986, and that's fair enough. But true music lovers, to say nothing of those who are evangelistically motivated, will support this song. On the musical side of things, it is an example of artists doing what they are made to do, create. "To Hell With the Devil (Rise)" shows what talented musicians can do when they put their gifts together. On the evangelistic side of things, the message of this new song is powerful and will give a new generation a tool to fight evil.

Oh, and one more thing. For you fans of metal out there, when was the last time we had an '80s classic given a 21st-century spin, tailor-made for the youth of today? Let's celebrate this and as we did in 1986, PLAY IT LOUD!

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