For those of you who think vocalist/guitarist Michael Sweet could never survive without the Christian Metal act Stryper behind him, all you had to do was witness Sweet fronting the band Boston a few years back. But now Michael Sweet’s new solo album I’m Not Your Suicide is further proof.

The highlights on I’m Not Your Suicide are the rockers. This is where Sweet’s voice and his guitar talent excel. The opening track “Taking on the World Tonight”  is straight-up heavy metal with Schenker-esque riffing (and  guest vocals from Tony Harnell of TNT fame) — it’s melodic and mean, built for a smooth ride at high speed. The hair metal groove of “Anybody Else” (with great guitar licks courtesy of Whitesnake’s Doug Aldrich) deserves a mention, too, because of its distinct energy. But it’s the old school metal of “Unsuspecting” that stands out most. Sweet’s high-pitched vocals and the song’s hard rock sensibility are the perfect elements for traditional-sounding heavy metal.

Other songs on I’m Not Your Suicide, however, suffer from overproduction like “This Time,” “The Cause,” and the title track — decent numbers that have extra backing vocals, extra orchestrations … extra everything. These songs would have sounded better without the tinsel on top. And what would a musician’s solo album be without the extra “filling,” aka as an extra song to take up space? The piano ballad “How To Live” (with Stryper brother Robert Sweet and bassist Timothy Gaines) is songwriting that might even be too sappy for Peter Criss to sing.

Overall, Sweet’s grand voice and guitar playing/sound heighten I’m Not Your Suicide‘s quality throughout. There’s a lot to like on this solo album, which is worth the purchase right there.

Check out photos of Michael Sweet and Stryper at the 2014 M3 Rock Festival.