I always have a soft spot for the bands that take my writing virginity, so to speak. Sister Sin are one such band. Their last album, True Sound of the Underground, was the first piece I ever did for MetalSucks. Two years later comes their latest release, Now and Forever, and my, how we’ve both grown and changed. Lead singer Liv Jagrell has morphed from awkward thrash metal chick into a tarted up Kat Von Marta Peterson and I’ve… gotten a couple haircuts. They’ve toured extensively and earned their place on stage with acts like Motorhead and I… wrote extensively and earned my place in grad school. As far as music goes, they still show glimpses of their retro Girlschool (with boys) by way of Sweden sound, but despite me still writing about them, that’s where the parallels end.

The record starts out off with a throwaway  thirty second instrumental intro before going into “End of the Line,” which would be a catchy song if not for the oddly soaring vocals, both lead and backing, that make it sound like Edguy decided to try death metal. The next track, “Fight Song,” is an improvement — it’s all angry, spitting, vitriol, with an Accept guitar riff, but even that is bogged down by the sycophantic cheers of “HEY!” that every song on the album seems to have in the background. I know the “HEY!”s are supposed to pump you up, but they’re actually distracting.

“In It For Life” is kind of interesting because Liv really rips into the vocals and actually sounds like a bizarre mix of Doro Pesch and Lita Ford. “Hearts of Cold” (har har, I see what you did there) sounds like it’s out of some freakin’ rock opera. Its dramatic chorus is very Bat Out of Hell, although it also features forgettable and seemingly half-mustered guitar solo.

In fact, most of the riffs and solos on the album seem like they’re afterthoughts. “The Chosen Few” and “Hang ‘Em High” sound exactly the same down to the bridge and steady drumbeat. There’s barely any of the attitude-y thrash with shades of death metal they used to have. I’m not saying it’s totally gone, but it’s been toned down a lot.

The tempo does pick up and kind of let go of the power metal-ness in songs near the end, such as “Running Low” and the slow, lounge-y conclusion “Morning After”  (it sounds like it should be performed in a smoky, dark speakeasy)  finally lets you hear what Liv sounds like without all the screeching. But on the whole, Now and Forever just doesn’t have the energy we’ve come to expect from the band. The record relies too much on the vocals and lets the rest of the music take a backseat. I legitimately enjoyed True Sound of the Underground, but their heart’s not in it on Now and Forever; that phrase feels like a sentence, not a promise.

In conclusion: I can’t not comment on the fact that the album cover focuses just on Jagrell with no other band members. Though she was front and center on True Sound… at least the rest of the group was present, too, and Jagrell wasn’t just a gimmicky “pretty girl singer.” Come on guys, it’s like you’ve given up. Actually, it’s like you’re purposefully aiming yourselves at Revolver (and its hot chick list). You’re better than that.

Sister Sin’s Now and Forever comes out October 22 on Victory. You can stream the track to “Hearts of Cold” here, and pre-order the album here.NOW AND FOREVER: SISTER SIN’S NEW ALBUM DISAPPOINTS

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