Coming straight out of Syracuse, NY, a state that is known for its Hardcore Punk and Straight-Edge movement, 'Brand New Sin' has absolutely nothing to do with either of them, and they boast about it. In fact, Kris Wiechmann claimed this album to be like "the first drink an alcoholic takes after walking out of rehab". And this is also their first album.
Not only do they boast about being different than the rest of the bands in their area, they are very proud of their influences. VERY PROUD. Ranging from Black Sabbath and Black Label Society to Metallica and even Pantera, these guys stick to their roots, and never stray away from their own creative formula. Hell, they even throw in a little Lynyrd Skynyrd for fun!
The line-up is as follows:
Joe Altier - Vocals
Chuck Kahl - Bass
Mike Rafferty - Drums
Slider - Guitar/Back-up Vocals
Kris Wiechmann - Guitar
Ken Dunham ' Guitar
The album itself feels like a fresh of breath air in an otherwise stale metal community. Lately, many bands have taken the road to being labeled as rip-offs, generic, and unoriginal (One need to look no further than the Metalcore community, which is plagued by rip-offs as of late). So for another band to step onto the stage and boast their own unique style is a huge sigh of relief for many.
From the opener 'Broken Soul' (excluding the intro which is just the sound of a helicopter) to the closer 'Shattered', this is one huge of a Hard Rock/Metal trip. 'Broken Soul' features pounding riffs, singing (yes, he SINGS. He doesn't scream, and he never does.), a melodic chorus, and a huge Southern-Rock influence. If you listen closely, you can hear all the influences they have described themselves as having. The biggest being Black Label Society, as most of the riffs off this song sound like Zakk might've wrote them himself, excluding the pinch-harmonics. Songs like 'SPP' and 'Judgement Day' show-off the Pantera side in them with huge chunked riffs that are locked together by fast palm-muting and pounding drums, while the song 'Changes' has an opening riff that feels as if Mot'ad and Guns N Roses came together for a few minutes. It's like I said before, they really like to boast their influences all over this album, and it's very easily distinguished.
The songs themselves are another story. They have blended everything together so well that none of them feel like a rip-off of another bands previous effort. 'My World', which was the first single off of this album, uses slow-but-heavy riffs and a very Joe Altier-based verse, which is just him, the bass, and the drums playing with the guitars throwing in a split-second riff. Others, such as 'Judgement Day', 'Broken Soul', and 'SPP', exploit the tried-but-true formula of having everyone play heavy all at once. By synchronizing the drums, bass, and guitar for a few pounding notes before they all take off on their own course is always a good way to catch someone's attention. 'Broken Soul' also has the most melodic chorus on this entire album. 'Missin You' is the only acoustic track off this album, and as you might expect, it sounds like it came straight-out of the South.
Now for all of you who come in wanting a screaming vocalists, look somewhere else, because Joe Altier is probably the stand-out on this album with his 2nd to none singing. The guy has an amazing voice. His vocal range consists from whispering to full-blown high notes, as featured on the closer 'Shattered'. He isn't exactly an opera singer, but for as big as the guy is, he has got a surprisingly high voice. On 'My World', as I have said before, is very Joe Altier-based. He uses his voice like an instrument to fill in for the guitars that do not play a large role in the verse, and sings very softly until the chorus where he just lets his vocal pipes rip open.
However, all is not well in the vocal category. The lyrics are rather boring. They're slightly average, but none of them really surpass that. 'This songs for, sung for my, broken soul you left hollow, you opened up my heart and I died.' come off the track 'Broken Soul.' Those lyrics seem bland, and feel like they've been used before, like from an Pop-Punk band. The best lyrics actually come off of 'Judgement Day', which make a reference to Jesus-and-the-wine story. 'And soon you'll come to find you can't turn water into wine, And then we all will see you and all your misery.' While they're the best on the album, they still are only slightly average. Simply put, lyrics are not this bands strong point.
As for the guitars, they're all great players. However, with having three guitarists, it's very hard to distinguish between them. The solos, which appear on every song except for 'Judgement Day', are all top-quality stuff. As with the riffs, each solo feels as if a different band inspired it. 'Changes' uses some 'wah' effects, which makes it feel very reminiscent to a Zakk Wylde solo, while the solo on 'SPP' sounds very much like a solo from Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath. Credit must be given to the guitarists, for with the solos, they tend to flow with the song, instead of just mindless shredding, which they do at some points, such as on 'Broken Soul'. On tracks such as 'Missin You' and 'Sad Oath', each solo fits the mood of the song to go along with the slow riffs that each song featured.
They're a few things that bring this album down. For starters, this album can be somewhat hard to listen to all in one sitting. I strongly recommend that you listen to a few tracks, put in something else, then come back and pick up where you left off. Why I state this is as follows: Let's say you're listening to 'Broken Soul', and awhile later when its on 'Judgement Day', you might think 'Wait, did I just finish the CD and not even know it''. After awhile, the songs might seem to blend together a little too well, and you will be left not knowing exactly where you are. Secondly, the bass is'well is the bass. As with most metal albums, the bass is almost non-existent. The only time you really get to hear it is during the verse on 'My World', and is still very silent.
This is a great first effort by a very talented band. They have taken some of the greatest bands every and infused them all into one great package. The riffing is enjoyable, as well as headbangable I might add, the solos are great, and Joe Altier's vocals are sheer amazement. Any fan of Hard Rock/Metal should do themselves a favor and pick this album up.
Also, for those of you out there who feel I dwelled on their influences a tad bit too much, It's because I meant to. I wasn't lying when I said they boast their influences. At the concert I saw them at (Along with BLS), they stopped playing and proposed a toast to all of the bands they adore and that have inspired them when writing their music.