Since we’re on a 1988 kick….didn’t we do this with 1986 not too long ago? Yes, we did, and when we did, we looked at Stryper’s massively succesful To Hell With the Devil.
Now, it’s time to look at the follow-up, In God We Trust.
It was the time of big hair and spandex, and (unfortunately) no one seemed to eximplify this brand of rock n’ roll more than Stryper. Which (again unfortunately), might have had more to do with their less successful follow up to THWTH than anything else–even more than their Christian lyrics in a secular (even Satanic, back then) metal world.
Even though their 80s teased-hair, bumblebee spandex and girlish makeup might have gotten the best of them, they made up for it by producing a really great album.
The album definitely plays on the success of its multi-platinum preceding THWTD, and could have easily been titled, To Hell With the Devil II.
IGWT starts with the solid title track, and then onto one of the band’s all-time best songs–the commercial pop-metal hit, “Always There For You,” and then onto the catchy rock anthem, “Keep the Fire Burning.” Next is the rock ballad, “I Believe in You,” which is an obvious aim at trying to recapture the success of “Honestly,” but slightly misses the mark. Then, like their previous album, Stryper saves one of it’s harder-edged songs for Side 1’s closer, “The Writing’s on the Wall.”
Side 2 opens similarly to THWTD‘s “Sing Along Song” with “It’s Up 2U” and goes on from there with one of the album’s best tracks, “The World of You and I” and onto the somewhat cellestial, “Come to the Everlife” and the dramatic, “Lonely,” then closing again with another harder metal-edged and lyrically powerful, “The Reign.”
Though it was evident In God We Trust was To Hell With The Devil part 2, no one ever seemed to mind. In fact, at the time, the album lived up to–and exceeded audience expectations, especially for those of us who waited so long for their next album to finally be released (we waited a year, year and a half at the most).
I remember even placing a special order at the local Christian bookstore so that we had a copy reserved for us as soon as the album was released. That’s right, and we went in groups just to pick it up and listen to it together. When we picked it up at the bookstore in the mall, we stopped in the secular stores to see it on the shelves there as well, noting with delight that a Christian album had debuted at #3 on the secular charts.
Once we put the cassette in, it was thrilling to hear how the band seemed to have gotten better. There was just a magical quality to discovering what each track would bring.
And though IGWT was a little more rock than metal, the lighter mood drew in some listeners that were not fans of their previous harder-edged albums.
No, the polish wasn’t too much, and (okay, I’m going to get a lot of slack for this) the rhythm and melodies were better than the previous albums; and, in fact, the best that the band had done overall.
So in spite of areas where it can be criticized, In God We Trust remains to be an overall well-produced album with catchy hooks and strong ballads and a couple of good head-banging songs to boot.
And, with whatever criticisms some give it, this is probably my favorite Stryper album of all.