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Much has changed since the yellow and black attacked TV screens via Dial-MTV during hair metal's golden era. Grunge, punk-pop, electronica, rap-metal, and countless other styles have had their seasons in the sun, and a new Stryper video on TRL would be as laughable as another Ross Perot run for president. Bound and determined to shatter the notion that they were merely another hair metal band whose members decided to dress like bees and use "the Lord" merely as a marketing gimmick (and a reason to pelt their audience with Bibles), Stryper reassembled in 2003 for a brief tour, no doubt inspired by the slew of hip young bands with Christian messages, and the response was overwhelmingly positive. This gave bandleader Michael Sweet the confidence to round up the rest of the Strypers (minus original bassist Tim Gaines) and return to the studio. Reborn isn't so much a return to form as it is an introduction to Stryper for a generation whose members may have been too young to experience the band the first time around. The disc features 11 songs, and the group had the good sense not to bloat Reborn with unnecessary filler. Sweet's voice hasn't suffered one bit in the years out of the spotlight -- he doesn't go for the high notes the way he used to, but such theatrics would only further reinforce the notion that they're a novelty act reuniting for a quick influx of cash. This is hardly the case here, but the messages that were once subtle (or at least subtle enough to top the charts of MTV back in the day) are now full-on and unapologetic in their spiritual message. Unfortunately, drummer Robert Sweet has put away the heavy metal licks and replaced them with alternative ones, and the monotony of his tricks can grow irksome at time, but the group's songwriting abilities and sense of arrangement rescue the songs from growing tired (besides, who listens to Stryper for the drums?). This is the sound of a heavy metal band refreshed without pandering too hard to modern music trends. You can't expect Stryper to turn back the clock and rock for Jesus the way they once did, and much to their credit, they don't try to. But as a guilty pleasure and for old time's sake, it wouldn't have hurt to include one of those piano power ballads they were so good at in their heyday.

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