This was the record that converted me into a full-blown Stryper fan and the first Stryper record I ever heard. It ultimately turned me on to hard music and it’s a great album, right from the title track Soldiers Under Command right on through to the beefed traditional refrains of Battle Hymn of the Republic.
Musically, it’s pure heavy metal, with fiery guitar work by Michael Sweet and Oz Fox that’s always good. With Tim Gaines laying down some thick bass lines, and Robert Sweet’s no-nonsense drummer, the long-haired, spandex-clad foursome certainly had honed its act by the time Soldiers Under Command came out. It climbed just a bit higher than the Yellow and Black Attack and set the table nicely for the band’s quintessential record, To Hell With the Devil. For sure, Michael Sweet has a great set of pipes and the harmonies are stellar, never better than on Makes Me Wanna Sing. And when Sweet hits that high note at the end of the song, it’s almost surreal. While the opener is good, Surrender, Rock That Makes Me Roll, and Together For Ever are all above average metal songs. The only knock on Stryper, well on heavy metal band’s in general, are the bland ballads. The record would be just fine without First Love and Together as One.
Stryper was my favorite band for a time in the mid-’80s. But that was before In God We Trust, a record in which the band’s act had worn thin and thankfully the last with the yellow-and-black wardrobe. In its time, though, Stryper was just as good or better than Ratt, Poison, Cinderella, Warrant and other glam metal bands that married long hair with tight pants. The genre certainly sounds tired nowadays, but there are still times when spinning Soldiers Under Command is not just a taste of nostalgia, but a great way to rock out.