Michael Sweet of openly Christian rockers STRYPER has responded to a controversial review of the band's latest album, calling it "incredibly unfair" and "a blatant attack on our faith."
Earlier this week, BLABBERMOUTH.NET published a review of "Even The Devil Believes" from veteran U.K. heavy metal journalist Dom Lawson in which he gave the LP a four-out-of-10 rating, praising the record's "multiple anthemic refrains" and "gloriously indulgent solos" while taking issue with STRYPER's lyrical stance, in particular the "constant references to God's love and the power of prayer."
In the review, Dom — a music journalist since 1999 who also contributes to Metal Hammer, Prog, Classic Rock and The Guardian — wrote in part: "To buy into STRYPER's musical world, you also have to be able to ignore the fact that most religious thinking is instinctively reactionary, rooted in irrational fear and is therefore entirely contrary to both the spirit of rock 'n' roll and everything that heavy metal is supposed to be about. Frankly, it's a major turn-off… Ultimately, you can try to kid people that worshipping sky fairies is a shrewd pastime, but it just isn't. And as much as STRYPER deserve applause for sticking to their guns, it's almost impossible to listen to 'Even The Devil Believes' without wishing that Satan would arrive and liven things up a bit. Metaphorically speaking, of course. I'm not insane."
The day the review was published, Sweet took to his social media to share a link to the write-up and included the following note: "We can take negative reviews (trust me, we've had more than our share over the years), but to base a review on hate & discrimination against our faith & beliefs in 2020 is just not acceptable. We live in a time when rights are fought for for everyone, as they should be. Why should our rights be any different? What do you think? Is this review fair or discriminatory? Let Blabbermouth.net & Dom Lawson know."
Now, in a new interview with Canada's The Metal Voice, Sweet elaborated on his opinion of Lawson's comments, saying that "not okay" for someone like Dom to "take a dump" on STRYPER because of the band's religious beliefs and speculating that "there's something a little deeper" to Lawson's dislike of his group.
Michael said (hear audio below): "I think it's incredibly unfair. And I think in 2020, it borders on being illegal — it really does. You see people out there on the streets fighting for their rights every day in new ways — powerful ways. And I'm not for rioting and vandalism at all — everybody knows that — but my point is people are out there really fighting for their rights, and yet this guy takes a dump on us because of our beliefs? In 2020? And that's acceptable, that's okay? It's not okay.
"I read it and I just thought, 'Okay. Nah. You're not gonna wipe your boots on us. You're obviously a hater of the band. You're the last guy that should be reviewing a STRYPER album.'
"His name is Dom Lawson," Sweet continued. "Maybe he's Dom DeLuise's cousin or something; I have no idea. But I just read it and I just thought, 'Wow, how unfair and how ridiculous.' They rarely review our albums anyway on Blabbermouth, and when they finally do, he gives us a four out of a 10.
"The reason why it upsets me is not so much because of the low rating, but more so because it's a blatant attack on our faith. Well, the more I thought about it after I posted what I posted, 'cause at first I was frustrated and I guess somewhat angry, I guess you could say. But then I thought about it and I thought, 'How sad. This guy hates us so much.' And what's even funny almost, comical, is his review only fuels the fire — in a good way.
"I don't know I you noticed all the comments of all the people that were against his review — almost three hundred of 'em; I think probably the most comments they've ever gotten on any review that they've put up, and it's all negative against his words against us," Sweet added. "And I'm just thinking this guy must, to some degree, live somewhat of a pathetic life, because for him to just write a review just to be nasty — for me, that's not a good reviewer. I don't take anyone like that serious. And I guess I'm being somewhat hypocritical 'cause I commented on it and put it on my Facebook page — maybe I should not have commented on it and given him the time of day — but regardless, it doesn't matter. It's not gonna stop the army. It's not gonna stop the forces. STRYPER keeps doing what we do and have done so for almost 37 years. Dom Lawson isn't gonna stop that.
"It's funny because he briefly mentions Satan in the article — I forget in what context — but obviously, you look at his reviews, he's into the real dark stuff, and that's fine — [there's] not a problem with that. But at the same time, we have a lot of Satanists and atheists who are fans of the band. And when I say a lot, I mean a lot. We meet 'em worldwide and come face-to-face with them, do interviews with them — huge fans who are Satanists and atheists. I've interviewed with leaders of the Satanic church, and they're, like, 'Man, oh, I love 'Soldiers'. It's my favorite album of all time.' And I'm, like, 'Wow! Okay. That's interesting, but that's amazing.'
"Maybe we snubbed Dom in some autograph-signing line or something. I don't know. It feels like there's something a little deeper to his [dislike of the band].
"Dom will figure out whatever his issues are. But I just read it and I had to post it and say, 'Wow. Okay. This is fair. What do you guys think?' So, there you go."
"Even The Devil Believes" was released on September 4 via Frontiers Music Srl.
We can take negative reviews (trust me, we’ve had more than our share over the years), but to base a review on hate &...