Sister Sin’s Black Lotus: Building Character is Fun!

  • Jeff Treppel

Metal vocalists fall into two categories. Most take the role of the Storyteller (as exemplified by Black Sabbath-era Ozzy Osbourne, Rob Halford, and Bruce Dickinson), who generally acts as the omniscient narrator, or, when they approach something in the first-person, only slipping into a viewpoint for the duration of an individual song. It’s rarer to find someone who portrays the role of the Character (solo-era Ozzy, King Diamond, and Alice Cooper; face paint helps), a consistent persona that tracks across everything they do, even when telling a story within the song.

Of course, within those bigger categories, there exist certain subsets. For example, with Characters, you have the ever-popular Hedonist, the Horror Host, and, of course, the Warrior Queen, pioneered by Betsy Bitch and Doro Pesch back in the ’80s. Sister Sin’s Liv Jagrell falls into that latter tradition, planting her armored combat boots on the corpses of her fallen enemy and waving the metallion hordes forward. It’s an identity she’s cultivated over the years, building from her initial Girlschool-derived punk-metal delivery to the full-throated battle cry she unleashes on Black Lotus.

The leather-clad Amazon really takes pole position on the band’s fourth album. Not only has her personality fully bloomed, but the mix shoves her front and center. It’s a good thing she lives up to it, because she’s clearly the focal point of the band (as a quick Google image search for “Sister Sin” proves). In fact, it’s her strongest performance to date across the board, the cementing of her Character. Fortunately, her bandmates also rise to the occasion.

Of Sister Sin’s three albums, this one feels the most indebted to ’80s metal, from the truncated album length (nine songs in 37 minutes) to the streamlined songwriting. That’s not a bad thing! As reductive as it may seem to compare the band to Warlock, another female-fronted group hailing from Europe, their hook-heavy brand of traditional metal hews closest. “Food for Worms” and “Chaos Royale” both rely on the same sort of overdriven shout-along choruses as “All We Are” and “I Rule the Ruins.” Those aren’t the only tricks they have; “Desert Queen” has a rhythmic style similar to their past tour mates Lordi, with a touch of Arch Enemy virtuoso guitar work. All the aforementioned are catchy as hell, by the way. For the most part, though, these songs stick to a formula – and it’s a successful one, especially with the Warrior Queen guiding each tune to victory.

Black Lotus is out now on Victory Records. Stream it here and order it here.

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