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By Larry Petro, News Monkey
Friday, September 9, 2016 @ 8:59 AM

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One Sided War

2016Rat Pak Records

Review By Robbie Kramer

In my opinion, we are living in the absolute best time to be a fan of music. Classic audiophile purists will disagree, I’m sure, and have a valid point to some extent. However, from the standpoint of the availability and sheer volume of accessible content, these are the best of times. In the music industry of the past, an artist would sign a multi-year, multi-album deal. They would be required to push out numerous records to fulfill their obligations, often releasing product that most die hard fans wouldn’t consider their best work. Keep in mind that it isn’t always easy to put out an iconic album with each attempt. In fact, catching lightning in a bottle is sometimes easier. There is a saying in the music business; “You have your whole life to write your first record, and only a year to write the follow up”. It’s not as easy as it looks.

Times have changed in the music business. No longer do you absolutely need a major record label to be heard. The days of $150,000 recording budgets are long gone and due to technology, the larger-than-life, more expensive studios are no longer needed. Most serious musicians can have the technology in their private studios that would outperform the older setups.

This creates a new dynamic in the recording process. In the past the top studios would “block” out various time frames in the studio schedule to record a band. The band was then forced to walk out at the end of that block with a masterpiece. Music is art, and sometimes you can’t force art into a two week block and expect it to be as you had planned. In a personal home studio, the musicians have 24-hour access into an environment they are at home in, because quite frankly, that is where they are.

This is not to suggest that Michael Sweet’s latest masterpiece was recorded in a home studio, but to simply validate how the process has changed in recent years. As a songwriter, you never know when an idea or inspiration is going to enter your brain. Often, when a song idea enters my mind, I cannot do anything else until it is either on paper or recorded in some way. That includes working, relaxing, or even sleeping, as it’s almost impossible when you simply can’t turn it off.

It is my guess that Michael Sweet has a similar thought process and that his mind is always full of ideas and melodies that are just begging to get out. Mr. Sweet has been quite busy for the last several years. There have been numerous releases from his band STRYPER, a couple of solo records and an album with George Lynch of DOKKEN fame called Sweet/Lynch. The ideas are plentiful these days. Additionally, he completed and released a book entitled Honestly: My Life And Stryper Revealed, and he toured almost non-stop for each project.

Michael Sweet has kept hitting it hard, much to the delight of his fan base. This gets back to my initial point; this is the best time to be a music fan. In the past we would probably be given just the stuff from STRYPER, as the record label would want the most out of their investment. As a big fan of them since the early days, that would be fine, but we would be missing out on all of this extra, great music from the brain of Michel Sweet.

Each project is different and not every song you write automatically fits with your main project. Some songs wouldn’t translate into a STRYPER song as well as it does with the players involved in this project. One Sided War shows me another facet of Michael that I absolutely love. This is what happens when you take those extracurricular ideas and bring in someone new to help mold and interpret the songs. It has been quite a while since I have had a CD that refuses to leave my player and One Sided War is that CD for me.

From the opening track, “Bizarre”, I was floored. I immediately went to the liner notes to see who was playing on the record. The song starts out with a powerful drum fill from Will Hunt (EVANESCENCE). The rest of the aural assault is initiated by Joel Hoekstra (NIGHT RANGER, WHITESNAKE, TSO), East Coast guitar wiz Ethan Brosh, bassist John O’Boyle and, of course, Michael Sweet. This album grabs hold of you and doesn’t let go until the end.

Some of my favorite tracks are the title track, “Can’t Take This Life”, “Only You”, and “Who Am I”. This album is full of tunings and grooves you wouldn’t normally find on a STRYPER album. They fit perfectly here in this concoction of musical tastes. The vocals are 100% the Michael Sweet you have come to expect. I would love to see this band live if given the chance. Look for this album where you get your music via Rat Pak Records. If you are a fan of Michael Sweet, STRYPER, or great music in general you owe it to yourself not to miss this one.

And as for Mr. Michael Sweet? Thank you for allowing your fans to enter your heart and your brain for just a little while and enjoy the passion that has driven you for so many years. I look forward to what comes next, and rest assured; this one will be in my CD player until that day comes. These are absolutely the best of times!

5.0 Out Of 5.0

Grab your copy of One Sided War in the KNAC.COM More Store right HERE.

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