Hot off the Press

Michael Sweet | I’m Not Your Suicide

by John Kindred
– Publisher —

michael sweet I'm Not Your SuicideMichael Sweet, front-man for the Christian rock band Stryper, is set to release his latest solo album; I’m Not Your Suicide, May 6 on Big3 Records. Sweet also will release his autobiography Honestly: My Life and Stryper Revealed the same day. Sweet’s 30-year career encompasses his role as vocalist and guitarist in Stryper, as well as a critically acclaimed solo artist.

Taking the reigns as producer, Sweet delivers his long-overdue solo album. I’m Not Your Suicide features 11 new songs and two cover versions of Neal Young’s “Heart of Gold,” the latter a vocal duet of Electra Mustaine and Sweet. There are slew of special guests, including Tony Harnell of TNT; Chris Jericho of Fozzy; Doug Aldrich of Whitesnake and Burning Rain; Kevin Max of DC Talk; and Robert Sweet and Timothy Gaines of Stryper.

The first single “I’m Not Your Suicide” is the album’s namesake. Sweet has partnered with Childhelp (the leading national nonprofit organization dedicated to helping victims of child abuse and neglect) to bring awareness to the suffering of abused children who have contemplated suicide. The lyrics of “I’m Not Your Suicide” delivers a message of hope.

The brilliance of Michael Sweet as a solo artist versus the front-man for Stryper lies in the music that reflects more of his influences. Obviously, Stryper follows a specific blueprint. With Sweet’s solo efforts, he is allowed to create more diverse compositions. What is amazing is that his voice always is suited to whatever style of music over which he sings.

I’m Not Your Suicide takes listeners through several genres within the confines of rock. Sweet’s heavier side is represented by songs such as “Taking On The World Tonight.” The opening song on the CD starts with the wail of sirens and heavy-handed muted rhythm guitar, where Sweet’s metallic and melodic influences take hold. TNT front-man Tony Harnell provides vocal support, thickening the verses and filling out the choruses. Both, Sweet and Harnell’s vocals blend together nicely, and this is a real treat for fans of both musicians. “All That’s Left (For Me To Prove),” “The Cause,” “Anybody Else” (featuring Chris Jericho and Doug Aldrich) and “Unsuspecting” also represent heavier songs that appear on the album, and each track highlights Sweet’s songwriting prose and skill as a guitarist.

Some songs seem experimental in nature, such as “This Time” (featuring Kevin Max), which has a slower pace. Sweet almost appears to be tipping his hat to Queen, as the verse is reminiscent to “The Show Must Go On.” The bridge is quite trippy and features Kevin Max. Sweet’s voice is quite emotional during the chorus; you always believe in the conviction in which he vocally delivers each note and word. The emotional urgency of the chorus of “I’m Not Your Suicide” will strike you at your core. The lyrical content will have an effect on the children Sweet is trying to reach, as well as their families.

“Coming Home” is another emotional number. It has a country vibe with the addition of the slide guitar, which lends itself to the sadness during the verse; the chorus is big and powerful. “How To Live” (featuring Robert Sweet and Timothy Gaines of Stryper) is the true ballad on the album. Led by the piano, the song allows the vocals to float over the instrumentation. The song builds in complexity as it progresses, bringing more and more instruments into the mix. It’s a powerful vocal performance by Sweet. Two really cool versions of Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold” appear on the album, the only real difference between the two is the addition of Electra Mustaine’s vocals in a duet with Sweet on the final track of the CD. Her voice is not what you’d expect from the daughter of Dave Mustaine; it’s not the thrash metal gravely, snarl that Dave is known for. Electra sounds amazing.

There is a lot to be said about escapism through lyrics in songs, and there is a lot to be said about lyrics that trigger specific memories.The words within the confines of a musical arrangement can bind us to an event of significant relevance in each and every one of our lives. These qualities are the foundation that Sweet lyrically crafts into each song on I’m Not Your Suicide.

I’m Not Your Suicide is a timely release. For those who have lost faith that any new music could touch your heart and soul and inspire you, Sweet gives us hope by penning new songs to complement our daily lives. This is a complete album; there are no filler tracks. Each song complements one another. Even with explorations between “rock” styles, I’m Not Your Suicide maintains its cohesiveness.

Deep down, Sweet wants to be known for his guitar playing. He is a brilliant guitarist who can stand toe to toe with those grafted to the title of guitar hero, and it is sad that he typically is not recognized as one because he truly shines as a songwriter, vocalist, guitarist and producer. Basically, Sweet is the complete package, where others are only the master of one.

Genre: Christian Rock, Christian Hard Rock, Christian Metal

Micahel Sweet – Vocals, Guitar
Kenny Aronoff – Drums
John O’Boyle – Bass
Paul McNamara – Piano, B3, Moog, Korg
Pete Adams – Steel Guitar

Robert Sweet & Timothy Gaines – on “How to Live:
Tony Harnell – guest vocal on “Taking On the World”
Kevin Max – guest vocal on “This Time”
Electra Mustaine – guest vocal on “Heart of Gold”
Chris Jericho – guest vocal on “Anybody Else”
Doug Aldrich – lead guitar on “Anybody Else”

Track Listing:
01. Taking On The World Tonight (featuring Tony Harnell)
02. All That’s Left (For Me To Prove)
03. The Cause
04. This Time (featuring Kevin Max)
05. I’m Not Your Suicide (co-written with Blair Daly)
06. Coming Home
07. Miles Away
08. Strong
09. How To Live (featuring Robert Sweet and Timothy Gaines of Stryper)
10. Heart Of Gold
11. Anybody Else (featuring Chris Jericho and Doug Aldrich)
12. Unsuspecting
13. Heart Of Gold (featuring Electra Mustaine) (bonus Track)

Label: Big3 Records


Hardrock Haven rating: 10/10

Pick up your copy on Michael Sweet’s website, here or iTunes or Amazon

“I’m Not Your Suicide” lyrics
They say that time can heal the pain, the scars
Forgive, forget – that only goes so far
You were someone I opened my heart to
Till I asked you for help, you became someone else

I was sanctified – I used to feel justified
Only to be crucified, by you – by you
My life has just begun, I’m standing in the shining sun
I’m not gonna run and hide, lay down and die
No I’m not your suicide

The stones you throw might bruise my bones, my skin
Reap what you sow, the truth will show in the end
I won’t break under pressure – I wouldn’t give you that pleasure

I was sanctified – I used to feel justified
Only to be crucified, by you – by you
My life has just begun, I’m standing in the shining sun
I’m not gonna run and hide, lay down and die
No I’m not your suicide

Are you so pitiful that you want to be me?

I was sanctified – I used to feel justified
Only to be crucified, by you – by you
My life has just begun, I’m standing in the shining sun
I’m not gonna run and hide, lay down and die
No I’m not your suicide