SWEET & LYNCH – Only To Rise

sweetlynchonlytorisecdThis is an album I have been looking forward to since it was revealed that singer Michael Sweet (Stryper) and guitarist George Lynch (Dokken, Lynch Mob, Souls Of We, KXM) was planning on releasing an album together. As a huge Stryper fan, I knew that anything that Michael Sweet puts his vocals on would equal quality. George Lynch, however, I wasn’t so sure of. Ok, his days with Dokken and the two first Lynch Mob records are all awesome and the same goes for his solo album Sacred Groove (1993), but there have been times when Lynch’s efforts has been under question, to put it mildly. When he has turned his coat to the wind and followed the trends, stuff like Dokken’s Shadowlife (1997) and some of his work with Lynch Mob in the 90’s has shown a confused guy who not only hasn’t managed to write good songs, but also found himself in a musical lost and found, losing himself completely. To make matters worse, even when he had tried to do something back to basics, the song quality has failed, like the Souls Of We project that didn’t make many a Lynch fan happy. I had some high expectations for the KXM project that Lynch had with singer / bassist Dug Pinnick (King’s X) and Ray Luzier (Korn) and even though the record was good I had expected so much more. This meant that this album could be the proof that Lynch hadn’t completely lost the plot and that the high quality of his new Lynch Mob album Sun Red Sun, released just before Christmas, wasn’t just a lucky strike. To be honest, I wasn’t really in big doubt here because Sweet’s involvement should mean that this album wasn’t gonna be fiasco. Also, Sweet and Lynch has hired a rhythm section that I knew wouldn’t be a let down either. With James Lomenzo (bass – White Lion, Megadeth, Pride & Glory) and Brian Tichy (drums – S.U.N., Whitesnake, Pride & Glory) on board, I knew that this would sound tighter than a camel’s ass in a sandstorm. Just to look at the line-up makes a melodic hard rock fan like me a really happy camper and that actually raises the expectations – if this album turns out to be just good, it would be a major let down. This album HAD to be great to cut it and boy did I cross my fingers for that. Please, please…

The first time I heard the single (which means I saw the video) “The Wish” I could breathe a sigh of relief. The tune was exactly as good as I had hoped it would be. It’s a great opener, heavy and guitar driven, but very catchy. It sounds a lot like modern-day Stryper with Lynch’s cool licks. Single (video) #2 is called “Dying Rose” and is even better. On this track Lynch’s influences takes over and every Lynch Mob fan will love this one, this is how Lynch Mob would have sounded if Michael Sweet was their singer. This is a hit to be. “Love Stays” is a fantastic half-ballad with big late 80’s feel and I hear both classic Bon Jovi and Def Leppard mixed with Sweet and Lynch’s influences here. A big chorus and huge hit potential. “Time Will Tell” is an uptempo rocker that sounds like the perfect mix of old Dokken and Stryper and I guess this will be a real live killer in the future. “Rescue Me” is epic hard rock and I hear lots of the heavier side of Lynch Mob here. The groove is big and the Hammond organ and the almost gospel-like influences gives the song a big 70’s feel and makes it stand out a bit – brilliant! “Me Without You” is an astonishing ballad, real heartfelt and emotional and completely without cheese. Lynch’s guitar playing is wonderful and Michael’s voice is both beautiful and powerful – this is how you write ’em, ladies and gents. “Recover” sounds like something that Michael could have brought with him from a Stryper session because this is classic Stryper metal and Sweet gets to scream some for the first time on this record. Yeah, I like it when Michael screams. “Divine” knocks me off my feet with its Van Halen meets Dokken groove and a winning Beatles-esque melody all over it – so awesome. “September” has a bit more of a laid back melody, but a real chaotic groove and a brilliant hook. The chorus is an amazing one and the whole song is catchy, but at the same time uncommercial. One of my favourite songs on here – if not my absolute favourite – is “Strength In Numbers”. A heavy tune, Led Zeppelin-ish – I get “Kashmir” vibes with some Rainbow “Stargazer” thrown in here – and a Stryper like melody in the chorus makes the song my stand out track on this CD. “Hero-Zero” takes an unexpected turn with its almost alternative, grunge-like rhythm groove and darker feel. But the Stryper-like chorus melody makes a sharp contrast which brings the song to another level – awesome stuff. The title track ends the album in a metal way as the song is the only real fast heavy metal tune. I’d put this in the same category as Dokken’s “Lightning Strikes Again”, “Til The Livin’ End” and “Turn On The Action” with an “In God We Trust” Stryper vibe. Really cool and a killer metal track!

I would recommend this album to everyone who is into melodic hard rock and metal because this album didn’t just satisfy my expectations, it went beyond that – this is a contender for the Album Of The Year award. With Michael Sweet delivering the goods with his solo career and Stryper, it’s great to hear that he made sure this project didn’t disappoint one bit, but the fact that George Lynch seems to be back for real is a really great news as this album is the best thing Lynch has released since the self titled Lynch Mob album from 1992. Hell, it’s even better than that, it’s the best he’s done since 1990’s Wicked Sensation. Lynch has always been a great player no matter which musical trend his been involved in, but on this album, he doesn’t only show that his skills are as great as ever, there’s also a fire and passion that I haven’t heard from the guy in a long, long time and combined with Sweet’s amazing voice and the fabulous rhythm section of Lomenzo and Tichy, this album is a dream come true. Also, the production doesn’t leave anything to wish for – it’s big, it’s in your face, fat, it has bite, but still slick enough to makes every song a treat to digest. The only thing I might have an opinion on is the name of the project. It would have been so much cooler with a real band name here and a band picture of Sweet, Lynch, Lomenzo and Tichy as a unit, but that’s trivial stuff. I truly hope that all the guys will continue with this project as a real band and that this isn’t just a one-off – I would love to see this band on tour. Until / if that happens, get this album, peeps. 12 songs and all of them are great – get this now!

Jon Wilmenius (10/10)

Tracklist:

 1. The Wish
2. Dying Rose
3. Love Stays
4. Time Will Tell
5. Rescue Me
6. Me Without You
7. Recover
8. Divine
9. September
10. Strength In Numbers
11. Hero-Zero
12. Only To Rise

11 comments on “SWEET & LYNCH – Only To Rise

  1. Fantastic review! I just wish the mainstream would pick up on all these awesome classic artists making fantastic music!! They deserve to be well paid and the only way to do that is through support. Unfortunately, they don’t get enough mainstream credit to bring in a lot of new fans to help drive that support

    • Thank you so much.
      And you’re right on everything you write here. Hopefully things will change for the better.

  2. Man this is crazy cool, I got to pour a second coffee fer myself before getting to the end of this review LOL – And that’s a win fer me, like reading lengthy indepth opinions like this thanks for taking the time to share!

    Gotta say normally into George’s more obscure groupings, KXM and Souls Of We (which I thought fanf$%@ingtastic!) for example, but Sweet Lynch (that’s this fans official name for em, drop the & because ‘Sweet Lynch’ sounds far better) is very close to excellent to these ears.

    Not all of it, think at times things get a tad too sweet (pun intended) the ballads moreso but a few potential skips aside reckon this gets better and better with each listen. Personal faves the title track, the cruiser Only To Rise, the brooding Strength In Numbers and single Dying Rose, which best captures the swagger and roll of old without sounding dated.

    While it might take some time to win some over, this record is, much like most things Lynch is involved in of late, top notch ear candy and like you say, Sweet brings it and then some.

    Cool read, cheers for the review!

    \m/

    • Awesome.
      Love your comments, man. And welcome to my site. Nice of you to drop by.
      And yes, the Sweet Lynch moniker without the & both sounds better and looks better in writing. Damn, I wish I had thought of that myself before I wrote the review… 😉

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