For the past two and a half decades, Stryper’s served as one of Christian rock’s most influential acts. Aside from its chart conquest and MTv crossover throughout the 1980s, the group’s reunion in the 2000s found the Michael Sweet led-legends picking right up where they left off, rocking especially hard on the brand new studio disc The Covering (Big3 Records). The record is comprised mainly of classic rock remakes (kansas, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple), alongside a heavy new cut, which the singer promises CCM is the group’s boldest to date. CCM: What inspired the concept behind the covering? michael Sweet: We wanted to show people where our musical roots lie and make a record that would define that side of us. Knowing that it would most likely cause some people to question our faith, we decided to write quite possibly the boldest song, musically and lyrically speaking, that we’ve ever recorded and end the record with “God.” CCM: how did you choose the covers? Sweet: It was a very simple process. We chose the songs/bands who had the most influence on our own individual styles and abilities. CCM: Were you going with a true to form take on the covers or did you want to interject a Stryper- styled feeling? Sweet: We wanted to stay true to the original due to respect, yet at the same time add our own interpretations as well. We purposely chose songs that are memorable and recognizable, yet that were fitting to our style and sound. CCM: What were your goals with the original song “God”? Sweet: To solidify the fact that our faith is deeper and stronger then it’s ever been before… We have always put Christ first and that will never change. What better way to do that then to end the song with the boldest and most powerful message we’ve ever delivered? CCM: how do you view Stryper’s overall legacy in both Christian music and mainstream music? Sweet: We’re a band that’s never compromised our calling. Though it doesn’t line up with many CCM bands’ approach, you can’t argue with the millions of people whose lives have been changed, transformed, renewed and restored through the power of God through the music and message of Stryper. We’ve been doing this for over 25 years and we’re still doing it. We have big plans for the future and we will continue to spread the Word until we take our final breath. — Andy Argyrakis Stryper roCk highlights the act: Augustana the Site: www.augustanamusic.com the Sound: Alternative Rock the Buzz: Epic Records rockers Augustana have already logged time on tour with Switchfoot and The fray, but its dates in support of a self-titled third major label CD will be a headlining jaunt, kicking off May 12 in Dallas and winding through June 17 in San Diego. the act: John Schlitt the Site: www.johnwschlitt.com the Sound: Classic Rock the Buzz: Topping the list of About. com’s “Best Christian Male vocalist” in the 2011 Reader’s Choice Awards was none other than John Schlitt, best known for his time leading Petra. The veteran beat out Chris Tomlin, Brandon Heath, Jeremy Camp and Bebo Norman, racking up 40% of the vote. the act: Skillet the Site: www.skillet.com the Sound: Modern Rock the Buzz: Speaking of accolades, Skillet adds yet another feather to its increasingly decorated cap thanks to its current single “Awake & Alive” (from its gold-certified album Awake) landing at the top spot of the Mainstream Active Rock Radio charts. CCM 41