Review Summary: Despite the band's giant hair, 'Under the Blade' turns out to be rather bald.
Twisted Sister is, at its core, a one-hit wonder band. Everyone knows "We're Not Gonna Take It" (and "I Wanna Rock", but not quite to the caliber of the former), but not much else is really known about this five piece band that reeks of 80's glam metal flair. This may be the reason a lot of people write Twisted Sister off. They think they are just another cheese-tastic hair band that people have seen all throughout the 80's, but their lesser known debut album, Under the Blade
proves that they can be just as intense and heavy as any traditional heavy metal band of the early 80's.
This album is very vocally driven. Dee Snider's voice gives a recognizable gruff and deep feel that makes for an impressive performance. The lyrics range anywhere from dark and serious to "too cool for school" rebellious anthems. At points where lyrics relate more to the latter is where there is more of a glam metal feel. "Bad Boys (Of Rock & Roll)" shows a lighter side to Dee's vocals as well as riffage that is high and squealy, and the whole deal is very radio friendly. "Shoot 'Em Down" also has a very radio friendly sound along with lyrics about a girl who all the guys try and get. Songs like this make me understand where people come from when they write Twisted Sister off as just another hair band, but then I hear the fast and furious vocals and drum work of "Sin After Sin", the dark lyricism of "Under the Blade", or "Destroyer" which is a borderline doom metal song. These continue to prove that these girly men can certainly hold their own with the likes Judas Priest, Ozzy Osbourne and other heavy metal of the early 80's.
The riffs in Under the Blade
are usually very simple. Many of them consist of power chords that tend to ring through whole measures, though this does not make them any less effective. The main riff of "Destroyer" consists of two palm muted notes, but the deep, slow, and trudging way in which they are played really manages to create a dark and doomy atmosphere that you wouldn't expect from them, especially following the poppy "Shoot 'Em Down". The solos on the other hand show the more technical side of the guitar work. They are by no means the best solos to come out of 80's heavy metal, but they have an impressive aspect of speed on their side. The drum work varies from typical beats, to an impressive amount of skill, perhaps most prevalent in "Tear it Loose". The main beat is almost reminiscent of a hardcore punk sound, along with some well timed and powerful fills to go along with it.
Twisted Sister shows with their debut that it's not a good idea to judge a book by its cover. Behind the make up and the immense amount of hairspray is a straight up heavy metal album that can certainly hold it's own with other classics of this time. If you don't like glam metal, don't write Under the Blade
off. It may pleasantly surprise you.