STRYPER – To Hell With The Devil tour 2016 – 10/23/16 Albuquerque, NM

     It was a perfect Sunday afternoon as I pulled up to the Lobo Theater for the Stryper show. I was pleasantly surprised to see a line had already formed in front of the building. I made my way towards the door and sorted out my entry so I could prepare to shoot the evening’s festivities.  

     The people who had purchased the pre show meet and greet (there were quite a few of them) were finishing up and allowed to form a line in the lobby. The sound check was starting up and I decided to walk around and visit with the fans. I was shown various items that had been signed (one cool item was an original vinyl copy of To Hell With The Devil.

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Steve Civerolo with his dad Paul

      Overall there was a sense of love for Stryper. I found it very cool to see people I knew to be fans of various Hard Rock bands that one usually does not associate with Stryper, telling me how much they meant to them. One special moment for me was seeing my good friend Derek Leyba be given the opportunity to help with load in for the band. The joy in his eyes was immensely satisfying. 

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Derek Leyba

     I went back in and found the band taking their time with the sound check to get it right. The thing that impressed me was the fact that they were willing to take that extra time to give their fans a high-quality show. Eventually everyone was satisfied with the sound check and whisked off to don the Black and Yellow.

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     I began my set up in the photo pit and waited for the crush of the crowd when the doors were opened. Funny thing, that didn’t happen. People were kind and civil as they packed in. I saw many friends of mine and many hugs were given. Then, the lights went down and business was about to begin.

     The show began with a cool video history of Stryper which led into a countdown. When the lights came there they were, in their Black and Yellow glory, STRYPER!!!

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Michael Sweet

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Robert Sweet

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Oz Fox

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Tim Gaines

     They took us back to 1986 instantly as they played through To Hell With The Devil in its entirety. The band was spot on not missing a lick of the album they had created so many years ago. Song after song was delivered and it seemed the band grew more energetic as did the crowd. After completing the album To Hell With The Devil Stryper ran through some of their crowd favorites and some more current songs. I can definitely say that they left the crowd satisfied.   There was a very cool moment during the set when Michael was talking to the crowd and one guy professed his love of the band and you could hear it in his voice.

     For moments here and there I actually felt like I was a 22-year-old again watching them for the first time. The playing, the vocals, the stage and the costumes were perfect. I am so very pleased to see that the years have only made them a better, stronger band. If you have the chance do yourself a favor and catch Stryper on this tour, you will NOT be disappointed!

     Thanks Michael Sweet, Robert Sweet, Oz Fox, and Tim Gaines for a great time and a reminder of how the music community should treat each other.

   it’s the Yellow and Black Attack, it’s STRYPER!!!

     – the Hellion

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THE GROUND BENEATH -“SELF TITLED” CD REVIEW

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1. Choke
2. Say It
3. Signs
4. It’s You
5. Blame
6. The Passing
7. Lost In Me
8. Blind
9. Memphis
10. RLS
11. Back Door Alley Girl
12. Disappear
13. Mine
14. Flounder Piano
15. Burjay

The Ground Beneath is:
Steve Civerolo – Vocals/Electric & Acoustic six & Twelve string guitars, Brian Scott – Drums, Hunter McCoy – Bass guitar

Guest Musicians on “Self Titled”:
Brian Ostrom – Four string bass guitar on “Memphis”, Paul Civerolo – Guest lead electric six string guitar on “Lost In Me” (Paul appears courtesy of Howlin’ Dog Records), Laurie Selby – Cello on “It’s You”/”Blame”/”Not Me” (Laurie appears courtesy of the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra), Jonathan “Jonny Law” Jonah – Guest lead vocals on “Burjay” (Jonathan appears courtesy of Rancho Relaxo Records), Rick Fusco & Kenny Davis – gang vocals on “Mine”

     I have had this CD for a couple of weeks now. The official release is going to be on January 17th 2013 at the Launchpad in Albuquerque, NM.

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Let’s get into the CD itself. The Ground Beneath is one of those bands that just plain and simply gets it. Steve Beneath is one hard-working SOB, always at shows, doing radio guest spots, texting about upcoming shows, anything it takes.  That tenacity shows in the latest release from The Ground Beneath “Self Titled”. “Self Titled” is actually the name of the new CD, a little bit of humor from the band.

Let’s get the technical stuff out-of-the-way first. The CD is clean and I mean CLEAN, the production quality is top-notch. The mix is great and the sound is not muddied in any way. Kudos for the guys on their attention to detail. This CD is meant to be played LOUD and is sounds great at those ear bleeding volumes.

Now for the fun stuff! I have been listening to this CD pretty regularly and this just so happens to be my third rewrite of this review. I keep coming back to this CD and discovering more stuff that I like about it. I love it when a band makes music that is inspired by other artists and yet sounds new. Let me explain, I know Steve is inspired by bands like Zakk Wylde’s Black Label Society, Pantera, Down, Corrosion of Conformity, HELLYEAH, Strapping Young Lad, Deftones, U2, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Damageplan. You can hear elements from all of these bands in the music and yet it remains distinctly The Ground Beneath.

“Self Titled” is , dare I say, a groovy record. While the world must be obliged with the obligatory single, which is “Blind”, I think the CD needs to be taken as a whole. The flow of the songs is just that good. I actually forget this is a local band out of Albuquerque, New Mexico when I am listening to it. Which leads me to ask “Why isn’t stuff like this being played on national radio?”

Steve handles all of the writing of the lyrics and music which is a testament to his talent. The band as a whole plays the songs that Steve has envisioned with a fervor and passion that will quickly infect you. Steve’s vocal work and guitar skills are right on par with some of the music world best. Brian “Bearface” Scott goes from flat-out pound your skull in drumming to tribal like beats keeping the band anchored with a solid back beat. Hunter McCoy anchors the package together with some bass lines that will have your heart pounding trying to keep up.

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In conclusion “Self Titled” is a record chock full of solid Rock N’ Roll tunes, pinch harmonics, throbbing bass lines, pounding drums, melodic compositions, hypnotic vocals and yes even a cello. Solid 10 out of 10 in my book, definitely a necessity in everyone’s music collection.

it’s loud, it’s dirty, it’s THE GROUND BENEATH

– the Hellion