Sometimes you want your music to be poetic lyrically. Sometimes you want virtuoso instrumental work. And sometimes you just want good, old-fashioned, hard-hitting, no frills, meat-and-potatoes rock, and this is what you get when Michael Sweet (Stryper) and Tracii Guns (L.A. Guns) drop their Sunbomb into your ears.
It's Sweet and Guns, so what else would you expect? Now, I'm not just giving props to guys in my age group, but let's be honest here. These guys in their fifties rock as hard, if not harder, than they ever did. They have honed their chops, been there and done that, and have earned the right to make their music their way. They're not teenagers in their buddy's garage, and it shows.
Sweet fills the vocals with lots of screams, which his fans know and love. No, they're not always in the stratosphere of notes that he hit back in the '80s, but his voice may well be stronger than it ever was. This is not falsetto shrieking, but a roar that comes from deep in the diaphragm. He attacks the vocal parts as if he has something personal against the mic.
As for Guns...this guy is a monster on the six-string. Riffs, shredding, and hard, gut-punching licks bring a ferocity that matches Sweet's vocals and have you banging your head with the first track.
And speaking of the first track, it's a number called "Life" and simply roars out of the gate like a 1970 Boss 429 Mustang laying rubber on the Saturday night strip.
Want to catch your breath after this? Not a chance! "Take Me Away" follows with a dark, crunchy sound that reminds you a bit of "Afterlife" from the 2017 Sweet & Lynch album Unified.
Things slow down a bit...just a bit...with the third track, "Better End," or so you think for the first twenty-five seconds. Then the drums and guitar and vocals just assault you . Once again, the angry, aggressive vocals match the equally angry and aggressive guitar and drums and you're reminded why you love banging your head in the first place.
"No Tomorrows" kicks off with a hard, yet slightly more melodic opening, and while there is a hint of the '80s here, you realize this is 21st century metal. There is simply no compromise on this number as it grabs you by the throat and says, "Bang your head or get your head banged...hard!"
"Born to Win" is up next with speed and intensity followed by the album's title track, "Evil and Divine," which starts off a bit slower, but grinds into top gear well before the one minute mark and ends with fifteen seconds of pure sonic assault.
With a nod to the great '80s metal albums, "Been Said and Done" is the album's lone ballad. Sweet truly shines on this with a purity to his voice that few could manage at his age, let alone someone who spent the early decades of his career screaming his lungs out. And never, ever count out the guitarist in a power ballad. Guns wrings that neck and our emotions as he pulls every last bit of emotion from the strings.
"Stronger Than Before" may be my favorite track. It just sounds as if it should be pumping out of the speakers at a biker bar. This is down 'n' dirty, sleazy rock...not lyrically, but musically, and for some of us, that's just how we like it.
We're back to the heavy and dark tones with "Story of the Blind," a song that would be good cranked up in any muscle car or convertible as you leave the speed limit in the dust.
The dark and heavy vibe lingers in "World Gone Wrong," a track that would have fit nicely on Sweet's 2019 solo album Ten with it's slow and sludgy sound.
"They Fought" ends the album with a slightly lighter, faster feel, yet still brings the energy and makes for a killer closing number.
Bottom line: Get this album. It's loud, fast, hard, classic, new, and everything you want in metal album.