Album Review: Sister Sin - "True Sound of the Underground"

It's funny to me how the "True Sound of the Underground" sounds suspiciously like the "True Sound of Hot Topic." Everything is a little too arranged, and seems coldly calculated. I wouldn't go so far as to say that the album was assembled behind the soulless doors of a record company marketing meeting, but all the rage and vinegar just seems too convenient.

I mean, look at the band's photo. You have a fashionable, sexy lead singer with a modern-throwback haircut, two well-dressed men whom could pass for Twilight vampires, and Benton (recently departed from the band, I should note,) who clearly seems at least superficially to be trying to recreate the stark depravity of Heath Ledger's Joker.

Every profanity or shocking lyric, every instance of vengeance-fueled exhortation, feels like it was specifically placed to get the most value out of it. As an example, the chorus of “Outrage” screams about teenage dissonance. That’s all well and good, but seems to not really come from anywhere. As a great friend once to said to me “okay commander, you have the troops riled up and ready to fight in your name…but what now? To what end have you drawn them together?”

If I were a teenager that fed on frustrated rebellion against a vague establishment that I was too young to understand, I think Sister Sin would have hit me harder. It's possible that I simply am too old for what "True Sound of the Underground" has to offer.

There are a lot of people who are lumping Sister Sin with the metal bands of old, and referring to this album as “classic metal,” and I can see that. The simple but effective beat of “24-7” with its old-school riff-riding guitar certainly crafts that image, and the frequent use of solos doesn’t hurt. The gallop on “Headed for Hell” and the infectious groove of “Built to Last” enhance that days-gone-by image, and make for the album’s best offering.

Still, the days-gone-by are just that, and there’s a difference between a band that musically takes inspiration from KISS and a band trying to musically emulate KISS. I can’t help but feel like Metal has evolved past this type of catchy but thin song construction, especially in the post “Thunder Kiss ‘65” era.

As far as breakout albums go, this one has some promise, but there’s so much room to grow. “True Sound of the Underground” has some very nice pieces (and I’m not just talking about Liv Sin,) and I fully admit is fun for an afternoon. Liv even delivers a thoroughly charged and energetic vocal performance. I can’t say that it has extended shelf life, though.

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