"An example of everything right about hard rock."
- All Music Guide
Turn on the radio today. What do you hear? Generic singles, rip-offs, poor talent. As we progress through each year, it seems that the music that is played on the radio is just less and less enjoyable. Sure, every now and then a DJ might slap on some good old Skynyrd, or maybe even some Black Sabbath, but for the most part, newer, less-talented bands dominate the airwaves. Why is this' Record companies are just looking to make a profit, and you can't blame them for that. When one band strikes it big, record labels immediately shoot off in different directions, looking for someone who looks, sounds, and acts the same way, hoping to harvest this new 'music cash crop'.
But for the rest of us out there, the ones who still believe that Rock is still alive and banging away, 'Brand New Sin' is our new hope.
Showcasing their new coin-phrase, 'There's a Brand New Sin in Rock N Roll', these guys have got something going on that many of us haven't seen in awhile. Something that hasn't been heard since those great old Rock bands like AC/DC. What is it'
Combining sounds from bands such as Black Sabbath, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Black Label Society, Guns N Roses, Motorhead, and even some small smears of Metallica and Pantera, 'Brand New Sin' is poised to take the Rock world by storm. And their latest album, 'Recipe for Disaster', aims to do just that.
From the opening sounds of these news rockers out of Syracuse, NY cracking open a few cans of beer on 'Arrived', you know this is going to be one hell of an experience. And soon enough, Kris Wiechman and Kenny Dunham start shredding away while Kevin Dean hits his high-hat. Then, the main riff comes in, and your first thoughts are gonna be, 'This'sounds like Black Label'. And correct you are, my friend. A lot of the riffs off of this album are very BLS-based, and unlike their last album, this time they include pinch-harmonics. However, they use them sparingly, and don't overdue them like Zakk Wylde does. Tracks such as 'Brown Street Betty' showcase some of their Skynyrd influence, which sound as if these guys went straight to the south and stole their music. Others, like 'Black and Blue', 'Another Reason' and especially 'Freight Train' focus on their ability to infuse certain sounds of Pantera and Black Label Society together to create some unforgettable riffs. On 'Freight Train', feature some chugging riffs that are interlocked at the end by a few pinch-harmonics. 'Black and Blue' uses heavy-chopped riffs cemented together by some fast palm-mutes to grab the listener by the balls. On 'The Lone', the opening riff is very similar to some old Guns N Roses, before it moves onto some chopped riffs during the verse. The two acoustic tracks, 'Running Alone' and 'Once In a Lifetime' are all very-well thought out written tracks. 'Running Alone' is the slightly heavier of the two, while 'Once In a Lifetime' being the quietest song on this album. The only real departure from this sound comes in on 'Vicious Cycles', which is really the only forgettable song on this album, and that's because the opening riff sounds so similar to something to 'The Haunted' it will make you sick. It's got a very eerie and haunting feeling to it, and it doesn't fit will in the mix of this album. 'Gulch' is also rather another nice track to skip, as it is a 40 second instrumental that really doesn't do anything besides play the same thing over and over. The best riffs off this album come from the last 'fast' song, which is 'Deadman Walking'. The opening riff is so similar to AC/DC that the only thing you can do is bang your head away. It features chopped notes locked together by a one or two palm mutes, before the verse, which is simply some notes, then some quick palm mutes, then repeat.
The solos that appear on every song on this album except 'The Loner', are all brilliantly written. Some of them, such as the solos on 'Arrived', 'Black and Blue', 'Freight Train', and 'Deadman Walking' take the Zakk Wylde approach of mindless great shredding, while the rest, especially on 'Brown Street Betty' and both of the acoustic tracks, follow the flow of the song. 'Brown Street Betty' has two short solos, which come in after each verse. Each of them fluctuate with the tempo at the time. The first solo, while the song is still slightly slower, follows the tone set by the riffs. The second one, however, after the song has caught some speed, picks up where the last riff left off and then, just like the song, picks up speed at the end. On 'Freight Train', it has two solos in it. The first coming in right after the chorus, while the second comes in right before the last chorus. The first solo is relatively short, and has that old-school rock feeling to it with some very quick notes played over and over before it picks up speed and rips the guitar open. The last solo, which is very much like the first in the beginning, really starts off about halfway through, which then follows the mindless shredding technique. Every solo off this album feels unique in its own way, and although they might sound slightly similar, they all fit the goal of the song extremely well.
But wait, it does get even better. And better is spelled 'Joe Altier' in this case. Joe is a downright amazing vocalist. Just because his picture in the album makes him look like a gruff rough-and-tough redneck doesn't mean this guy can't wail on his vocal chords. His voice is high, yet it's gruff. It's such an intriguing equation that produces great results. From his opening cry of 'YEA!!' on 'Arrived' to his gruff-voice ending vocals on 'Wyoming', this guy has a mission to assault your eardrums. Joe's voice can range from talk-like singing to gruff-high notes in a second, as heard on 'Brown Street Betty'. Songs like 'Arrived', 'Freight Train', and 'Days are Numbered' also pick up a new trademark sound for the band, which is what I have come to call the 'Joe Altier-verse', which is the drums, soft-bass playing, and guitars throwing in a split-second riff while Joe takes the main-stage on the song and sings away. His voice fills the gap left behind by the guitars since they aren't playing as much. He uses his voice as instrument, and you won't even notice the difference just because he is that good. This is especially true on 'Brown Street Betty', when it's really just him singing, with no drums, or bass, and the guitars playing softly every few seconds. 'Deadman Walking' is probably his best vocal performance, and he shakes things up a bit. He follows the choppy riffs along with his voice; breaking up words and spitting them back out quickly. And then, during the chorus, he changes from some high singing on the first line, then gets lower, and lower, before it cuts back to the verse. On the acoustic track, 'Running Alone', he voice becomes the driving force of the song, as he switches to a very low voice during the chorus to push it along. Before I end on the topic of vocals, I absolutely must note the opening yell on 'Black and Blue', which is very high and he carries it on for about 10 seconds with some great fluctuation in the notes.
However, the lyrical work leaves much to be desired. As with the last album, the lyrics here kill it. Joe Altier might be an amazing singer, but he isn't a very good writer. Take for the instance the lyrics off the opener, 'Arrived'. 'Find peace, find truth, find the way, eternal youth.' He must've gotten that out of a children's book. Most of these lyrics are almost laughable, such as 'I couldn't say why I stayed, Maybe I should've walked away.' The best lyrics come off the single, 'Black and Blue'. 'I know you don't believe it, Damnation's almost through. I've almost lost what's all me, We've battled hard, We're black and blue!' That's about as deep as this album gets lyrically, so if you're looking for some in-depth, soul-searching writing, you might want to try somewhere else, and fast.
As for you fellow bassists out there, here's a little something for you: You can hear the bass. Sometimes. It's not like Chuck Kahl is a Steve Harris or a Flea, but the guy throws in some of his variations every now and then, such as on 'Arrived', where if you listen closely enough you can hear him hit some notes before he starts playing again. He even gets his own thumping intro on 'Freight Train', and while he doesn't throw any variations in there, it's a relief to see a bassist get some attention. 'Another Reason' allows him to have almost a bass solo, but it's just simply the same thing over and over, and it's too simple to be considered one. However, for the most part, he just follows the guitarists around.
If this is what the future of Hard Rock will forever be, you can bet I'll be there every second of the way. Brand New Sin bring life back to a stale music community, taking inspiration from some of the great's and re-working their sound into something new, and something they can call your own. The riffs are all enjoyable, the solos are bliss to the ear, and Joe Altier is the icing that covers it all. Brand New Sin is like I-HOP. 'Come Hungry, Leave Happy' (tm I-HOP)
Recommended Tracks to Rock Out To:
Brown Street Betty
Black and Blue
Days are Numbered