RATINGS: A = must own B = buy it C= average D = yawn F = puke

Sweet & Lynch – Only to Rise
Frontiers Records

Rating: B+

Frontiers Records not only does a fine job keeping bands from the ‘80s releasing new music, they also get creative and put together musicians to collaborate and come up with new tunes and ideas.  Such is the case with Sweet & Lynch, which is comprised of two of the ‘80s biggest names. 

The ‘Sweet’ is Michael of Stryper while the 'Lynch' is George from Dokken and Lynch Mob.  It’s easy to imagine that combining a guy whose wears his Christianity on his sleeve with a dude whose nickname is Mr. Scary would have an interesting musical pallet.  The dynamic (and loud) duo execute a first rate job of cranking this sucker up to 11 and staying within their wheelhouse.  Both Sweet and Lynch stay firmly inside their signature comfort zone, refraining from the mistake often made by their peers—to be relevant!  Trust me, no one wants to hear a guy from Stryper be Bruno Mars, or the dude from Dokken trying to be The Foo Fighters.  Nope, they want fat riffs, Mob solos, ballads with balls, great vocals and killer dual guitar solos.  Sweet & Lynch have learned their lesson through a few decades in the music business.  This sucker literally is a case of ‘giving the people what they want’ while having fun doing it!

George Lynch has not been on an album this good in literally twenty years… maybe more.  He fills up the sounds, punches up the rhythm and adds his amazing lead guitar to every song on this sucker.  George is playing with a middle-finger-up attitude (perhaps unintentionally aimed at his former band mate, as this album is better than anything Dokken has done since the 1980s!).  He does not, as he has been accused of by some, overplay at all; he plays the way guitar players want to hear him play.  That said, his accomplished skills mesh creatively with Sweet, who has, of late, been on a roll.  His vocals continue to impress, and he also demonstrates he has no fear to go toe-to-toe with Mr. Scary on the six-string.

The two men have an easy time communicating, and while the songs feel like they were quickly composed, they seem complete.  This body of work seems to be a case of masterful inspiration rather than just handing something in to the record company. The backing band gets a ‘these guys don’t suck’ mention, as they are two of the best when it comes to melodic hard rock.  Just look below… the recording band is rounded out by drummer extraordinaire Brian Tichy and bass player James Lomenzo. 

The press release for the album has Sweet explain the sound of the band.

“It’s an incredible combination of classic 70’s and 80’s”, tells Michael Sweet. “You will hear some flavors of Journey, Bad Company, Dokken, Van Halen and Stryper. James and Brian are amazing musicians. They tore it up. The drums and bass are just as impressive as the guitars. Everybody really delivered... The musicianship level on this is top notch. It sounds as if we were all in the studio playing together and we were not. Basically, George wrote some riffs about a minute to a minute and a half long. I wrote lyrics and melodies then arranged them. Then Brian and James came out and tracked the drums and bass, as well as some rhythm stuff. We then sent it back to George to add the guitars."

The opening two numbers are both going to thrill Sweet and Lynch fans as “The Wish” is just what one would wish this project to sound like, while “Like a Dying Rose” would have been a massive hit back in ‘the day.’ “September” is another powerhouse of a tune, and while some are more appealing than others, there are no clunkers to be found anywhere on Only to Rise.

Hats off to all involved, as this creation could just as easily had the two famous guitar players doing their own parts in their own home studio in their underwear while drinking their morning coffee.  They could have slapped something together, turned it in and collected a check.  Instead, they wrote some damn good songs and made sure they translated well in the recording process.  This is good stuff. 

Rumor has it we may even see these guys on the road in 2015… imagine the set list to that concert! In the mean time, get this and crank it up till the neighbors knock on the front door.  Only to Rise is firm proof that this genre is not dead and that one can indeed create viable new music that is every bit as ‘crank it up’ worthy of the past.

Michael Sweet – lead vocals, guitars
George Lynch – lead guitars
James Lomenzo – bass guitar
Brian Tichy - drums

Track Listing:
The Wish
Like A Dying Rose
Love Stays
Time Will Tell
Rescue Me
Me Without You
Strength In Numbers
Hero-Zero; Only To Rise

By Jeb Wright