YES! YES! YES! That was my first reaction when I read the title of Dee Snider’s new record. Dee Snider was getting back into Metal again. Yes, I say again since my opinion is that Twisted Sister were a Metal band. Sure, they had Pop vibes and they flirted with both Hard Rock and Glam but their core was Metal without a doubt. And so was Widowmaker! I got the same feeling that I had when Rob Halford got back into Metal with Resurrection (2000) after his Two misadventure. To many fans, Snider’s last album We Are The Ones (2016) was a misadventure as well. Me, I don’t hate that album, in fact I quite like it, but it sure was an experiment and even though that album could be referred to as a Metal album, it was a contemporary Metal album made for younger fans that has grown up with modern Rock radio, not for his old fans. And even though Dee might be the world’s oldest teenager (he’s 63 now) it didn’t work. His old fans didn’t wanna know and the kids were more or less clueless of who he is. But Dee is Dee and I did find a bunch of really good songs on that album even though it wasn’t what I had wished for in a Dee Snider album.
That album wasn’t supposed to happen but Dee got persuaded into making it. Dee said he was done with releasing new music after that. Then Hatebreed singer Jamey Jasta came along and talked Dee into making another record. But no contemporary radio Rock this time, no, this time he wanted Dee to make a pure Metal album – his last album just couldn’t be the one he said goodbye with. Now, Dee didn’t write a note on the last album, except for the rerecording of “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and the same thing is the case with this one. Jasta brought in the tunes, he produced it and all Snider had to do was to get in the studio and sing the Hell out of it. Knowing that Dee wrote everything in Twisted Sister and co-wrote all the songs in both Desperado and Widowmaker, it feels weird that he could be content with releasing two albums in a row without writing one single song. But it doesn’t matter – I was curious as Hell of how the album would sound – and I really, really, really wanted to like it.
Opener “Lies Are A Business” is a real belter, a fast, hard, thrashy and aggressive jawbreaker that can crush coal into diamonds. It’s an assault of a song that goes in for the kill right on the spot and bites hard. It’s not without melodies but this one’s here to beat you up – and I like it a lot. Very good. Leading single “Tomorrow’s No Concern” is also a furious gut-buster that takes no prisoners. Uptempo, hard and in-your-face with a refrain that grabs you by the balls with angst-laden catchiness – the tune is a real winner. The mid-tempoed “I Am The Hurricane” is heavy, ballsy and raging even though its verses goes in a bit of a laid-back direction. But the refrain is hard-hitting, direct and brings out the hooks – very good. “American Made” is a solid, stone-hard and kicking Hard Rock meets Metal number that holds a crowd-friendly chorus with a nice hook. And it kicks some major ass! Good stuff.
“Roll Over You” is total Metal – fat, chugging riffs, aggressive and shit-heavy and a very effective refrain. It also contains some furious lyrics – man, Dee must have a bone to pick with somebody. Dee’s middle fingers are in the air with this tune for sure – and that’s the way I like it. “I’m Ready” is fast and rough and strikes me as the bastard child of Judas Priest’s “Painkiller” and Halford’s “Resurrection”. The refrain slows things down some but only adds to the dynamics. Quality wise, I find the song only ok as it fails to get me hooked which is kind of weird as Dee shows off his 80’s Metal roots here. “Running Mazes” is a groovy Metal stomper that’s hard, fast and even Pantera aggressive at times. The chanting of the song’s title in the chorus is very catchy without going cheesy on us. It holds a contemporary Metal vibe but it still got the classic Metal elements everywhere. Great track.
“Mask” is slightly modern sounding but it do come with a Metal groove and the fat, in-your-face foundation brings my mind to Disturbed vocally and the catchy refrain sends a slight not to Snider’s past, both Twisted Sister and Widowmaker. And the mix of modern Metal and classic dito blends very well. A very good tune. Second single out is “Become The Storm” and it soon stands pretty clear why it is a single. While this upbeat rocker is a heavy and punchy melodic Metal tune, it also comes with a solid, catchy refrain that brings Snider’s golden days to mind. This is really Arena Rock going wild and it wouldn’t surprise me the least if this one became a hit, at least on Rock radio. One of my favorite tracks on this record. Dee duets with Howard Jones (Light The Torch, Killswitch Engage) on “The Hardest Way” and looking at Jones’ day job it’s not very surprising that this tune holds the biggest modern Metal twists on the album. It’s rough, groovy and aggressive but as a whole I find it forgettable.
Duet # 1 is followed by duet # 2, this time a ballad of sorts called “Dead Hearts (Love Thy Enemy)” and features Alissa White-Gluz (Arch Enemy). Alissa is more of a screamer/growler in her day job so it was cool to hear her actually sing here – and she does it with all the glory. She’s got a beautiful yet powerful voice that marries fine with Dee’s ballsy and raspy voice. The tune starts out acoustically with a classical guitar, slow but still with a groove. As the song goes by, it gets heavier and brings on a Metal vibe still on the ballad side. It’s a brilliant tune where every melody is memorable and the chorus is straight up contagious – this smells like a hit miles away. “Close My Eyes Forever” for the 21st century? The title track closes the album and it is Dee Snider at the highest Metal level. Energetic, almost hyper, the tune is brutal, aggressive and heavy. It comes in a mid-pace but also features a slow, dark and thrashy middle-break, still kicking and punching. Dee name-drops a few old Twisted Sister song-titles here and it’s more clear on this song than anywhere on this album that Snider is a true metal-head. What a way to close a Metal record!
This is a brutal and heavy album, more aggressive than anything Dee has ever done before, maybe to show everyone that he’s still got it. But as always when it comes to Snider – melodies are important. And it’s a very melodic album in that sense. But the album has its flaws. First of all, while I do like almost all the songs here, too few are memorable enough to stick for the long run. I love the album when I listen to it but it doesn’t quite stick with me all the way. Here’s the deal – I think it’s a mistake that Dee isn’t involved in the song writing anymore. Dee says that he just can’t write this kind of music anymore and that he only can write 80’s sounding music. So? Dammit, that would be awesome! This album could have been a monster with Dee’s hooks and arrangements over this record. Also, I’m not that big on the production. Sure, it’s loud, heavy, fat but it also suffers from the compressed sound-scape that many of the contemporary Metal albums comes with today. It doesn’t breathe! All that apart, I still think that Snider & co. has brought us a good Metal album and it’s damn nice to hear Dee “blasting fast and loud” again. Hopefully, this is not his swan song.
More Dee Snider reviews:
1. Lies Are A Business
2. Tomorrow’s No Concern
3. I Am The Hurricane
4. American Made
5. Roll Over You
6. I’m Ready
7. Running Mazes
9. Become The Storm
10. The Hardest Way
11. Dead Hearts (Love Thy Enemy)
12. For The Love Of Metal