Sunbomb is new collaboration between L.A. Guns (and former Guns ‘N Roses) guitarist Tracii Guns and Christian rocker Michael Sweet from the band Stryper. It’s a super heavy release that sounds like the hardest of Stryper’s material without the muli-layered guitars that the band is known for and also resembles the newer L.A. Guns material, most notably the 2019 album The Devil You Know.
Closing in on 40 years as the leader of Stryper, Michael can still belt out the high pitched screams and melodies he’s known for. The material on Evil and Divine leans a little more on the “evil” side and seems a bit out of character for Michael, but it’s a welcomed change. The most interesting song on the album is Take Me Away which sounds a bit like it was influenced by Black Sabbath’s Sweet Leaf, a far cry from the Sing-Along-Song of To Hell With The Devil.
Tracii’s guitar playing works well with Michael’s voice and it’s great to hear him stretch into the harder metal spectrum. Hell, the guitar solo from Life is worth the price of the CD alone. The tones are very dark and deep on the entire album and would not be unfamiliar to Dio and Sabbath fans alike – so much so that I’d swear this was produced by Master of Reality producer Rodger Bain at the helm.
As the album progresses, Evil and Divine sounds more like a tribute to early metal than it does an album aiming for hit singles. In that sense, it’s a heavy metal wet dream, with so much 70s influences that it might be time to crank out the old jean jackets and update them with SunBomb patches.
Being more familiar with Stryper than LA Guns, it’s interesting to hear Michael in such a dark atmosphere. Even though some of Stryper’s latest releases have gotten heavier and heavier, this brings that iconic voice to a whole new sound. It’s also a stark contrast to L.A. Guns vocalist Phil Lewis who provides a slick polish to the famous L.A. Guns sound.
It’s great to see artists like the “divine” Michael Sweet and the “evil” Tracii Guns make a sharp departure from the usual. It shows they still love to create music and challenge themselves. Sunbomb at the very least is a fun project for the duo, but it could easily become a legacy piece showcasing a tip of the hat to heavy metal’s early roots.