When it comes to keeping several irons in the fire, it’s safe to say that Michael Sweet is one of rock ‘n roll’s veritable blacksmiths. Enjoying the recent resurgence of Stryper, the co-founder and frontman of this legendary pop-metal outfit is releasing the worship-oriented disc HIM, his first all-new solo effort in five years.
“This is the type of album that I hope will encourage people and lead them toward worshiping God,” says Sweet, who co-produced the project with longtime friend Kenny Lewis. Sweet drew inspiration by searching through a church hymnal and finding songs that made a lasting impact. The result is a disc replete with well-known classics like “Take My Life,” “Alleluia” and definitive Christmas favorite “O Holy Night.”
Sweet explains that while all the songs on HIM represent timeless standards of the Christian faith, most of them have been completely rewritten musically and melodically. “I was deeply moved by so many of the old hymns’ lyrics, but I wasn’t really moved by the music or the melodies,” he elaborates. “I thought it would be cool to write new music to these songs that already have such amazingly powerful words.”
While several selections maintain their traditional melodies, a high-energy tempo resonates throughout the set. Sweet also puts his modern spin on tracks like “Alleluia,” showcasing a spine-tingling a cappella refrain, and “At Calvary,” a full-on rock number with an infectious chorus and unforgettable guitar hooks.
As a member of Stryper for more than 20 years, Sweet has enjoyed success in both Christian and mainstream markets. Stryper has sold more than 8 million records worldwide, with several projects striking RIAA-certified gold. The group’s unprecedented 1986 album To Hell with the Devil went platinum and was named one of the “100 Greatest Albums in Christian Music” by CCM Magazine. Sweet’s previous solo efforts include a 1994 self-titled release; 1995’s Real; and Truth, which released in 2001. His first solo record was voted “Favorite Album” in the CCM Readers Awards, while Real was nominated for a Dove Award in the “Best Rock Album of the Year” category.
As far as his new record is concerned, Sweet is anything but obsessed with sales numbers or commercial airplay. “Whether this record sells 5,000 or 100,000 copies, what it’s about for me is that the songs encourage people and draw them closer to God,” he says. “If that is accomplished, then I will be the happiest man alive.”
HIM will be released August 1, 2006 by Infinity Music Distribution (a division of Central South Distribution, Inc.). An extensive marketing and publicity campaign will include a retail and radio tour, and major TV appearances including a TBN prime time special. Sweet will also be touring and performing songs from HIM at select Stryper shows throughout 2006 and 2007.
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