Sister Sin – Now And Forever – Review

One of the best things about touring with a well established act is the opportunity for ‘new people’ to discover your music and turn into raving fans, and that’s exactly what happened here. Several months ago the Doro tour was announced and this was immediately nailed to the NoVAMetalReview calendar, despite being on the same day as the Superbowl. Having missed Doro on her last pass through Northern VA, I was determined to see her this time around. Also on the bill were NoVAMetalReview favorites “A Sound of Thunder” and I really only paid lip-service to the other act listed, namely “Sister Sin”. Ok, I admit it – silly me…

So on the night of the show A Sound of Thunder opened the night and blew out all the cobwebs in fine fashion, and as soon as they were done, we retired to the back bar to grab something to eat and sample a beer or two. At some point Sister Sin started their set, but for some reason it took about 4 songs before I made it back into the main hall. Damn it… these guys can play! Since I missed so much of the set, I’ll reserve a live review until I get the full story, so let’s catch up on the most recent Sister Sin release.

First, who the hell are “Sister Sin” (S.S.)? Well, they formed back in 2002 and hail from Gothenburg, Sweden, and are a 4-piece. Most notably though, they are fronted by a female singer called Liv Jagrell, who bucks the all too-common, semi-operatic wailing, for a very up-front and conventional in-your-face metal style of vocal. More on that to come. The rest of the band are Jimmy Hiltula on guitar, Strandh on bass (presumably his other name is so unpronounceable to be pointless… my guess!) and Dave Sundberg on drums. None of these names have much of a past as to warrant any great discussion. To date S.S. have four albums to their name, with the first two being independent releases, while the most recent were released on Victory Records worldwide.

“Now And Forever” was actually released last October so I’m running about 4 months behind here, but the big picture is this is an EXCELLENT record. There, I don’t usually let the cat out the bag this early, but I have to say this is one of a very few albums I have on almost constant rotation in the car CD player that I enjoy every time it comes around. Inevitably I find myself cranking it up. And up…

I have struggled to find a good comparison to what S.S. are doing right now and the closest I can find musically is very early Motley Crue – think “Too Fast For Love” and you’d be about right. Taking a technical timeout for a moment, the overall recording quality and mix is excellent. This record works when played quietly and roars when cranked up.

It would be very remiss of me to not mention the excellent lead vocals of Liv Jagrell, because I think without her up front the band would likely be another competent, but not so special metal act. As noted previously, unlike so many female vocalists currently, Liv does not attempt the en-vogue, semi-operatic style, which I find mostly an epic-fail. It can work on one or two tracks, but, once I’m three tracks in, it’s grating and annoying. Fortunately, Liv appears to have been listening to early Vince Neil and perhaps Phil Lewis from LA Guns, and it damn well works. Obviously singing in a foreign language is never easy, but Liv does a fine job and where her accent does make itself heard, it adds a nice twist to the delivery.

As for the 10 tracks on the CD (there are 11 listed, but the first is really just an extended intro), my picks are “End of the Line” which deals with the collapse of society, “Fight Song” which opens with the following, “Fuck you, fuck them and fuck the world too, do I look like some kind of bitch to you…” (awesome and hard to argue with!), “Hang ‘Em High”, and for a change of pace, “Morning After” which starts as a simple piano/vocal affair that allows Liv’s vocal ability to shine in a simpler setting. While I mention these particular songs, there really isn’t a weak number to be found. One thing I do really like is that these are all 3 or 4 minute tracks, with not pretension of grandness. They smack you in the ears, hit hard and know when to quit. Sometimes less is more.

You might note I haven’t really mentioned the musicianship of the individuals in the band (well, OK, excluding lead vocals…), and this isn’t an oversight. While everyone is totally competent, this isn’t a band built around a guitar player or similar; Sister Sin is a rare commodity, such that the sum of the parts, far exceeds to individual contributions. Taken out of context this might be seen as some sort of criticism, but it is meant in the exact opposite; here we have a band where all the pieces fit perfectly and the result is exceptional – so the preceding comment is meant as a complement of the highest standing.

To close here, my recommendation is: GO BUY THIS RECORD. If you like straight forward, no frills metal, in the classic sense you will not be disappointed. For me it’s hard to see how this could be a better record and I’m scoring it a 9.5/10 (the missing 0.5 I’m holding back for the next recording!).

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