Michael Sweet and George Lynch on the face of it seem like an odd pairing; The former a God-fearing, bible bashing Christian rocker with a taste for saccharine, the latter a nobody-fearing Don Dokken basher who runs a neat line in two tone haircuts and extreme shred. Sweet & Lynch would appear, on the face of this evidence, to be a doomed concept from the start.
Yet, they’ve made it to album number two and, against all the odds, this pair of strange bedfellows really do seem to connect.
Opening track Promised Land is a balls out, high octane rocker of the type Stryper have cornered the market in in recent times; Sweet opens with a stratosphere-piercing scream and the song gets better from there, Lynch content to play support with some tasty riffage and neat solos.
Second track Walk is more ambitious and not quite as successful, coming off as something Queen might have rejected when they were recording The Game. Lynch does however bring his (m) A (Y) game come solo time.
However it’s a bit churlish to moan about a pair of blokes being a bit experimental when they could easily have just tossed off another by-numbers piece of hair metal fluff, and I’m sure i’ll be returning to this track a few times on the sly over the next few months…
Afterlife attempts to mix Sabbathy doom with funkier riffs with surprising success, Lynch once again delivering the solo goods, but Make Your Mark is just a bit too meat n’potatoes if I’m being honest. Michelin-starred meat n’potatoes, obviously, but meat n’potatoes all the same.
The balladic Tried & True is a little soporific save for Sweet’s great vocals on the chorus, but the title track picks things up again with a fine chorus and some more great lead work from Lynch who, though in reasonably restrained mood makes every note he plays count throughout the album.
Find Your Way is solid, if a little uninspired, although again it features some exemplary guitar playing- George Lynch really is a great soloist, right up there with the metal greats – but the anthemic Heart of Fire is a real belter, featuring some great multilayered Sweet vocalising and, you guessed it.. yet another great solo.
Find… is the sort of track that Sweet really sounds most at home on, and it really stands out as one of the strongest on the album. Maybe it’s because the rhythm section (White Lion’s James Lomenzo on bass and former Whitesnake man Brian Tichy on drums) get a bit more of a look in on this track, making it sound more like a real band – I don’t know. But there’s definitely an extra something at play on Find Your Way.
Bridge of Broken Lies builds slowly but is worth the wait; conversely penultimate track Better Man grabs you from the get go with its dramatic intro and doesn’t let go, Sweet giving his best performance of the album with a superb piece of storytelling.
Final track Live to Die ends things on a high, leaving the listener wanting more. Even at its most prosaic Unified is a great listening experience, with all four members being absolute masters of their respective crafts. If one of your great pleasures in life is, like me, to be able to listen to people at the top of their game going through their paces, then this is going to be an album you’ll need to obtain.
Unified by Sweet & Lynch is out now on Frontiers Music.