Sister Sin – Black Lotus

Sister Sin Black Lotus cover

Victory Records

Review by Carl

Buy the CD HERE and the MP3 HERE

Let’s just put it out there – Sister Sin are probably the best “proper” Heavy Metal band you’ve never heard of.  That in itself is something of a crime, especially when you consider this Swedish foursome have just released their fifth album, which you are about to be reading a review of.

So who are they, then?

Sister Sin formed in Gothenburg in 2002 and have released five albums (Dance Of The Wicked, Switchblade Serenades, True Sound Of The Underground, Now And Forever and now this one).  They’ve also toured with the likes of Arch Enemy, Alice Cooper, Motörhead, Michael Schenker, Lordi, In This Moment and U.D.O as well as releasing a single with Doro Pesch.

So they’ve been around the block a few times and they’ve earned their stripes.  What about the album, then?

It’s good.  It’s VERY good.  Liv has a damned fine set of pipes, in a similar vein to Veronica Freeman of Benedictum and Manowar’s Eric Adams, producing a powerful throaty roar that makes you sit up and take notice.  Guitarist, Jimmy, is all pent-up fury.  Tight, muscular riffs and short, sharp solos.  The rhythm section of Dave (drums) and Strandh (bass) nail it all to the floor.  Solid as the proverbial rock.

Want to know about the songs?  OK.  Here we go:

The band are snarling and growling straight out of the gate.  Food For Worms makes an aggressive start with a blistering solo.  Liv starts as she means to go on, setting out her stall for the rest of the album with her powerful, gritty vocals.

The single (you can watch the video below), Chaos Royale, is a bit of an odd one.  Again, plenty of aggression, but punctuated with some seemingly odd time changes… That is until you recall the name of the song, and suddenly it all makes sense.  A touch of musical chaos means the song itself couldn’t be more fitting.

Au Reviour keeps up the breakneck pace.  If you haven’t at least nodded along to part of one of these songs, your ears need checking.  This one is the first to have a huge chorus.  You’ll be singing along by the third one.

There’s a slight drop in pace, with the momentum exchanged for intensity when it comes to Desert Queen.  The slightly spooky intro opens up into a huge groove and lyrics somewhat reminiscent of Edgar Allen Poe’s writings.  Mentions of “ravens” and “scarlet”.  This is another one that you can’t help but move to in some way.  There’s also a very nice use of sepulchral keyboards, sounding like the kind of church organ you get in a cathedral.  Makes a nice change from a Hammond B3!

Count Me Out is a break-up song.  Not one of those mopey ones, mind.  The anger pouring out of this one is almost palpable.  “Stay the fuck away from me/Out of sight and mind”.  A little bit of strings to add colour, strangely enough not out of place, leading into rather a nice solo.

The pace goes back up again for Stones Thrown, which boasts another massive chorus.

From what we’ve heard so far, The Jinx is a bit of a surprise.  Acoustic guitar at the beginning tells you all you need to know… it’s the ballad!  Liv shows that she really can sing… although it’s pretty obvious she’s still pretty annoyed!

Ruled By None is a potential set-closer.  Certainly it’s going to be a live favourite.  It’s a big song with gang vocals on the chorus, matched to the infectious enthusiasm exhibited right the way through this one.  Sister Sin really do have the chops to go all the way.

It would have been very easy to let this album fade out there and finish with another ballad, or just not add another song.  Instead, there’s Sail North, a thundering duet featuring Liv and… well… not sure, but the credits say “Vocal sample on Sail North by Eddie Meduza (RIP)”, but there seems to be more than a sample here.

Final verdict?  It’s a good one.  Bloody excellent, really.  No weak tracks at all and no pointless noodling or excessive fiddling.  OK, I could have done without the ballad, but that’s pretty much the only thing that stops this album getting full marks.  As it is, it’s definitely in the upper reaches of my best albums of the year so far.

****½

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