I was – and still am – a big fan of Sister Sin so for me it was a huge disappointment when they decided to call it quits back in 2015. However, I always saw Sister Sin as singer Liv Sin’s band. Unfair to the others, probably, especially as they were the main song writers. But Liv was without a doubt the focal point and the one that always was on their album covers. Also, Liv (Jagrell) Sin is one of the most intense and amazing front(wo)men I have ever had the pleasure watching on a stage. As a big fan of hers, I looked forward to her first solo outing. Follow Me came out in 2017 but unfortunately, the album was something of a disappointment for me. Yes, Liv sang as awesomely aggressive as usual but there was flaws in the material.
Also, where Sister Sin always had a big sense of melody and lots of hooks in their heavy and aggressive Metal, Liv’s album lacked that in many parts. The album was based more on aggression and attitude and at times she and her band went in to Thrash Metal territory – and there were even nods towards Black Metal. The wrong way to go, if you ask me and even though I thought the album was ok, I haven’t exactly played it to death since its release. When the news of a follow-up showed up, I heard talk of Liv & co going back to the more melodic side of Heavy Metal something I was happy to hear. So, despite the fact that I find the debut album somewhat underwhelming, I was excited to sink my teeth into the new one.
“Blood Moon Fever”, the second single, kicks off the album with a beautiful yet haunting piano piece that soon morphs into an upbeat, straight-forward rocker that lands somewhere between Hard Rock and Metal. Riff happy and chugging guitars over a kicking rhythm section, the song also brings on a pop-laden main-melody that explodes in an overly catchy chorus. It’s very immediate without being the least sugary and why rock-radio didn’t pick it up is a mystery. It deserves to be a hit, see. Third single “Chapter Of the Witch” follows and I’m curious if this comes from the Sister Sin vaults. It’s fast-paced and heavy with razor-sharp guitars and the steady rhythm is a punch in the gut. Raw, dark and edgy, this Heavy Metal track will have you pumping your fist in the air while headbanging and yelling along to the contagious refrain that hits you in your face like a ton of bricks. Hell yeah, this is how I want Liv to sound. Brilliant.
Björn Strid (Soilwork, The Night Flight Orchestra) duets with Liv on the slower paced, heavy and dark “Hope Begins To Fade”. It’s an aggressive yet groove-laden bouncer, quite headbang-friendly on concrete-hard ground. It’s the latest single and while it might not be all that hit-friendly as it do not flirt with radio at all, the refrain is still distinct and direct. The song stuck right from hello for me – clearly one of the album’s finest moments. Feel like getting beaten up and kicked around any? Well, if you do then “War Antidote” is here for your wishes to come true. It’s a punchy, fast and kicking classic Metal tune thats in your face and on your case, aggressive and heavy as hell. That said, it comes with a dark soundscape and a huge refrain that will crack your skull. Good one. “At The Gates Of The Abyss” is mid paced but rhythmically fast, it’s raw and robust but with a slow and acoustically laden break that brings up the dynamics and makes the tune breathe. A good song but not as distinct as many of the other tracks.
Leading single “Slave To The Machine” is stomping, pounding and metal-groovy with a slice of Hard Rock weaved in. The fist-in-the-air pounding rhythm and the “hey” chanting works like a charm. Filled with adrenaline and energy, the song’s verses are better than the refrain. It’s a good tune but not as strong as the rest and why it was chosen as a leading single is probably more of a “we’re back” statement than looking for air-play. Like a wounded war-machine, “The Sinner” runs us over, fast rough and kicking but also very melodic with a strong main-melody and an instant refrain. They keyboard arrangement gives the song a lift as well and the mix of furious Metal and striking, catchy melodies marries so well.
“Death Gives Life Meaning” is dark, eerie and heavy with chugging guitars, a steady and heavy rhythm and a pounding bass-line. It’s very in-yer-face and the fat metal-riffing tries their best to bust your head. While the song strikes hard and Liv’s vocals is aggressive and raspy like she’s been eating barb-wire for a week, it still brings on some catchiness which makes it stick by first listen. Great! Sister Sin could always do a ballad without going into cheeseland and Liv solo is no different. “Ghost In The Dark” is slow and laid-back yet brings on a heavy arrangement and a spooky atmosphere. It’s intense and the keyboard orchestration makes for a bigger soundscape where the grandiose refrain really sticks without going into power ballad territory. Awesome! Liv & co. rounds the album off with the aggressive, Thrash Metal like “Dead Wind Intermezzo”. The verses are heavy, raw and fast with a sharp edge but the chorus – still heavy and rough – brings on a more melodic outlook where the melodies shines with a solid hook – or ten! Very good.
It seems like Liv got most of her Thrash Metal (and Black dito) symptoms out of her system with her solo-debut because she has gone back to do what she does best – hard, aggressive and menacing Metal but with clear melodies that sports hitty hooks and loads of catchiness, exactly those things that I loved about Sister Sin. This record is a clear improvement from the debut but it’s quite not up to Sister Sin standards just yet – but she’s getting there for sure. The production is spot-on – thunderous, heavy, punch and concise, raw yet clear and the musicians’ performances are flawless – Liv, of course, sings just as brilliant as ever, aggressive and with a million-bucks attitude but with a melodic twist. Will Liv Sin be as great as her former band? I can’t think of one reason why that wouldn’t happen, she’s/they are well on her/their way with this album. Way to go!
More Liv Sin reviews:
1. Blood Moon Fever
2. Chapter Of The Witch
3. Hope Begins To Fade
4. War Antidote
5. At The Gates Of The Abyss
6. Slave To The Machine
7. The Sinner
8. Death Gives Life Meaning
9. Ghost In The Dark
10. Dead Wind Intermezzo