When Sister Sin called it quits back in 2015, it came as a huge surprise to more or less everyone who had followed the band throughout the years. Few bands seemed more committed to their music than Sister Sin. The band released records every second year and they toured their asses off as soon as they possibly could. To me, it looked like Sister Sin would be in it for the long run, a band that would never give in until they had achieved what they set out to get – world domination. And if you ask me, I believed that they would have gotten really big if they had toughen it out for a few more years. That’s easy for me to say, though – it’s not that it is an easy task to try to live on playing heavy metal nowadays when people don’t wanna pay for music anymore. But read any interview with lead singer / front woman Liv Jagrell, now Liv Sin, and you would find a woman obsessed with music and who loved every inch of being in a recording and touring band – yes, it was a shock to hear that they had decided to go separate ways. Now, the split wasn’t Liv’s fault or decision – she never wanted the band to end. If it had been up to her, Sister Sin would still be alive and well and out there kicking butts as we speak.
So it wasn’t the least surprising to find out that when the split was final, Liv decided to go out on her own and continue where Sister Sin left off with new musicians. And so she did. Her new outfit is called Liv Sin, after herself, but according to her, Liv Sin are very much a band and not a solo project at all, hence the album cover. As a Sister Sin fan myself, this is a project I had been looking forward to since the day I heard that Jagrell had a new band going. Also, the three latest Sister Sin albums True Sound Of The Underground (2010), Now And Forever (2012) and Black Lotus (2014) are all records I love whole heartedly so I was looking into this record with great expectations brought along with me. That said, the main song writers in Sister Sin didn’t involve Liv at all – it was guitarist Jimmy Hitula and drummer Dave Sundberg who wrote all the songs – which meant that it wasn’t sure at all that this album would be another master piece. But at least we would get to hear Liv’s amazing and powerful voice once again.
“The Fall”, a blasting heavy metal tune with a thrash vibe breaks loose as the opener and it’s clear that Liv hasn’t gone soft on us one bit. Rob Halford seems to be the main influence in this song as both his band Fight and his solo band comes to mind here. The song hits hard and goes for the throat right away and it sure bodes well for the rest of the album. Great song. “Hypocrite” goes back to the 90’s and Judas Priest Painkiller days so Halford is the source for inspiration on this tune as well. It’s total metal – hard, aggressive and heavy as hell. First single “Let Me Out” comes with a big Sister Sin feel, a steady metal bomb with a big pop vibe in the chorus. It’s a good song even though I miss the intense catchiness of Hitula’s / Sundberg’s sensitivity when it comes to writing memorable melodies. It’s the not the hit I had hoped it to be. “Black Souls” sounds as evil as the title suggests. It’s a pounding metal track with a touch of black metal but still with enough hooks to make the tune stick. The best track so far.
“Godless Utopia” comes in a more traditional heavy metal vein, a bit slower but with a big punch. Still, it falls a bit on the way side as it’s somewhat forgettable. “Endless Roads” is heavy and ballsy but with a very distinct melody. It’s on the moody side and vocally, it shows Liv using her broad range more which makes the melody comes across more. It’s the most Sister Sin like song so far – awesome! “Killing Ourselves To Live” is a play on words of Black Sabbath’s “Killing Yourself To Life” (Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, 1973) but that is where the Sabbath comparison ends. Musically it bears influences from modern metal and to my ears it sounds like a mix of Sister Sin and modern-day In Flames. Schmeir of Destruction fame guests on the song and he does his job well, but I was never a Destruction fan so it means little to me. The song is ok but never really lifts. “I’m Your Sin” is a classic heavy metal groover, heavy as hell with and a kick in the teeth. The pop twist in the chorus’ chanting saves an otherwise mediocre song.
“Emperor Of Chaos” is a straight forward metal stomper that bits, kicks and throws punches all over. It rocks very hard and I like the aggression but otherwise the song passes by pretty much unnoticed and I can’t remember squat of it after it ends. Sister Sin made some really cool covers through out their career – “Paint It Black” (Rolling Stones), “24/7” (U.D.O.), “Make My Day” (Motörhead) and “Morning After” (Randy Piper’s Animal) – and this album is no exception. This time it is “Immortal Sin” by Rob Halford’s Fight that gets the Liv Jagrell treatment with a guest slot from Jyrki of The 69 Eyes. The tune happens to be my favorite from War Of Words (1993) so I was excited about what Liv Sin had made of it. They stay pretty true to the original and haven’t changed that much and since I love the original, I do like this version as well. That said, I’m not that impressed with Jyrki’s deep, dark and gothic vocals at all – it’s not my thing and I think I would have liked it more had Liv sung it alone. He do give the chorus a cool edge, though. Closing track “The Beast Inside” starts out as a big, pompous ballad with some very diverse, poignant and emotional singing from Liv that truly shows her skills as a singer. It turns into a melodic hard rock tune complete with some brilliant guitar harmonies. A fantastic song, probably my favorite on the whole album.
As a whole, Liv Sin’s debut album is a good one and the production team of Stefan Kaufmann (ex-Accept, Ex- UDO) and Fitty Weinhold (UDO) has done a very good job – the production is razor-sharp, aggressive and heavy even though small amounts of both thrash and black metal has been brought into the production without taking over or leaving a too deep mark. The band has written some really good songs as well but I must admit that since it’s impossible not to compare this record, at least some, to Sister Sin, there is something missing here. And what’s missing are the catchy melodies and the choruses that nails themselves to the brain and refuses to leave. As Sister Sin always had at least one toe or two in the glam and sleaze territory, they always had a cool twist to their heavy metal – Sister Sin were always a metal band after all – which gave them a more melodic twist and a sound of their own. Liv Sin, on the other hand, has left all that out and gone for pure aggression, attitude and anger instead which makes this record less memorable. That said, there’s still good melodies here and there are some damn good songs – and let’s not forget, Liv Jagrell is still the hardest, meanest and most attitude laden female vocalist around, no one comes close as far as I’m concerned – but I had expected a bit more from this album. A really good album that could – and should – have been great.