Monday, July 5, 2010

Sister Sin - True Sound of the Underground (2010)

I'm not sure when Victory Records started moving outside of their safety zone of old school hardcore, metalcore, and pop punk to put out efforts from 'genuine' metal bands, but apparently there must be some financial fruit to the latest movement of classic metal sounds that has spread like wildfire through the younger fanbase, because they've snapped up Sister Sin's third full-length True Sound of the Underground and run with it. It would be very easy to dub the Swedish band's sound 'in trend', but they actually formed years ago and put out their debut Dance of the Wicked in 2003, which was quite some time before all these retro metal acts started sprouting up or gaining momentum and record sales.

Previously, I'd only been exposed to the 2nd album Switchblade Serenades from 2008, which wasn't all that atrocious, but not really ambitious either. Sister Sin has the distinction of a female vocalist, one Liv, who sings in a dirty, late 80s hard rock style that seems a mix of Chastain's Leather Leone and Sebastian Bach of Skid Row, so at the very least we aren't forced to sit through some harrowing Gothic metal banshee who sounds like she lost a part on Broadway. She's very easy on the eyes, and for about 90% of the image-starved people who will listen to this band that will be the sole determining factor in laying down their cash, but I was content that she's got a genuine grit and vitriol in her voice that fuses wonderfully with the tunes.

It's hard not to think of an album titled True Sound of the Underground, or songs named "Better Than Them" and "Built to Last" as pompous, but thankfully the band is offering nothing more than some mildly catchy, angry heavy metal which often hints at originality without ever truly committing. Examples include "Better Than Them", one of the few songs on the album that borders on speed/power metal, a semi-scathing indictment of Americans...with some of Liv's most pissed vocals and a nice, piercing chorus line, gang shouts, and a nice little sample and orchestral tease during the bridge. "24-7" sounds like something Lemmy might have written while he was out on the Strip shopping for whores, and "The Devil I Know" has an undercurrent of filthy German heavy metal like Accept.

Not all that glitters is gold, however, and no amount of guyliner and tattoo font band logo can conceal the few mediocrities that creep up on this record, like the bluesy and boring ass rock & roll of "Built to Last" which finally rewards us with a half-decent chorus. A lot of Liv's more nasally, upper-range choruses can grow repetitive, and the band goes all in for the big Skid Row chorus part on like half the songs here, without them every eking their way deeply into your memory. Still, there are quite a few quality songs you can rage and sing along to, including the title track "Sound of the Underground", the aggressive "Nailbiter" and the closer "Beat Em Down", and the production of the record is quite up to snuff, primed to blast out of whatever speakers that serve as your ciphers to misanthropy.

Aesthetically, it would be nice if the band lost their shitty biker print logo and a little of the 'strike a pose we are Scandinavian lookers' mentality, but this is a plague on us all, and always has been in the realm of hard rock and heavy metal music. It's high time the bands just let the rock do the talking, and worry about their modeling and (Gods willing) acting careers at a later date. The music itself is fun enough if ultimately disposable entertainment, and strangely I was often reminded of a mix of Twisted Sister and the German bands Warlock and Powerwolf, with an aggressive frontwoman. True Sound of the Underground is adequate for chewing gum for the back of your Harley and some 80s fantasy you wish to relive, and if it can bring a wealth of younger male, female and male-femme fans into the sounds of traditional metal, so be it. They don't play the most commercial of rock sounds, but I'd be damned if they aren't going to reach some level of success due to their placement in the revival wave.

Verdict: Win [7/10]

No comments: