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Music Review: Michael Sweet goes to 11 on 'Ten'

This cover image released by Rat Pak Records shows "Ten," a release by Michael Sweet.

Michael Sweet, "Ten" (Rat Pak)

It's called "Ten," but this goes to 11.

This album is among the best work Michael Sweet has ever done, and that's saying quite a bit given his nine previous solo albums and extensive discography with the trailblazing Christian heavy metal band Stryper.

It almost seems like the high-octave vocalist and guitar maniac is keeping '80s heavy metal alive all on his own, given his frenetic output and the consistent quality of each release.

His 10th solo album begins with a heavy dose of transplanted Stryper DNA on "Better Part of Me," which is built around the intro riff from 1986's "More Than A Man."

It's remarkable how well Sweet's voice has held up over nearly four decades, with scant rest between discs and tours.

A time-honored tradition of '80s metal is the power ballad, and no one does them better than Sweet. This time it's "Let It Be Love," a worthy successor to the MTV smash "Honestly" and 1990's "Lady."

Sweet also brings in a truckload of metal friends, including cameos from members of Whitesnake, L.A. Guns, Fozzy and Arch Enemy. "Son of Man," a duet with Todd La Torre of Queensryche, is everything a heavy metal song should be: fast-paced, drum-heavy and with unfathomably shredding guitar by Andy James. It sounds like what might be expected if Sweet sang with Motorhead while Yngwie Malmsteen played guitar.

It all adds up: "Ten" is easily one of the best hard rock albums of 2019.

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Follow Wayne Parry at http://twitter.com/WayneParryAC

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