Sinner – Crash & Burn (2009, Candlelight Records)
- Crash & Burn
- Break The Silence
- The Dog
- Heart Of Darkness
- Fist To Face
- Until It Hurts
- Little Head
- Like A Rock
Mat Sinner – Bass & Vocals
Henny Wolter – Guitar
Christof Leim – Guitar
Klaus Sperling – Drums
Producer: Mat Sinner
Total Time = 41:44
Sinner is one of those German Metal bands that I have always meant to take a serious listen to but never got around to it. Taking a look at my CD collection, it turns out I have a couple late ’90s albums (1997’s JUDGEMENT DAY and 1998’s THE NATURE OF EVIL) but I think I’ve only given them a couple spins each about a decade ago. Mat Sinner has been a fixture in the Heavy Metal world since Sinner released their first record in 1982 but he is recognized more as the co-founder/bassist of Power Metal powerhouse Primal Fear. Now 28 years later, Sinner is back with studio album #15…..CRASH & BURN.
Having never really listened to Sinner, I expected to hear a Power Metal album in the same style that Primal Fear would make, especially with current and former members of Primal Fear (Mat Sinner, Henny Wolter and Klaus Sperling) involved but the Sinner sound is more of an ’80s retro Traditional Metal sound with more in common to the Hard Rock side of things rather than the Metal. There is plenty of guitar with a twin axe attack, as well as, solid and powerful rhythm section but the overall sound is more melodic and Blues based. Bands that immeadiately come to mind are AC/DC, Saxon, U.D.O./Accept, Thin Lizzy and a touch of Primal Fear but there is also this sleazy Hard Rock influence that make this more commercial sounding. What I expected was fast and furious Power Metal but I got catchy, melodic, straightforward Metal. I knew Mat Sinner’s vocal range was not as good as his Primal Fear partner Ralf Scheepers but he does a good job with his deeper rasp that sounds like a combination of Dave Mustaine, Udo Dirkschneider and Phil Lynott.
The opening title track starts off with a blaring siren and a powerful guitar riff that leads into a mix of old school Traditional and today’s Power Metal….the combination that Saxon has used so well since the ’90s. ‘Break The Silence’ is very melodic with the harmonies on the chorus and slick main riff but there are also some cool solos added in for power. It’s a very groove oriented song that could easily be from any of the last few U.D.O. albums. Sinner uses that same heavy groove but speeds the tempo up for ‘The Dog’ using an AC/DC-ish Blues base and putting in a bit of Primal Fear over the top. ‘Heart Of Darkness’ is a very surprising track because I immeadiately thought of Phil Lynott and Thin Lizzy. The twin lead guitars and harmonies give off that melodic but heavy classic Lizzy sound while the double bass drums give the song a certain “gallop”. So far every song fits within a certain framework but I was completely surprised by the album’s first single ‘Revolution’. This song sounds like gritty, bluesy U.S. Hard Rock like Cinderella, Jackyl and Great White that gets the feet stomping and the party going. This is complete ’80s retro complete with cowbell and full on vocal harmonies but with a biting guitar, ‘Revolution’ could easily fit on LONG COLD WINTER (1988) or HOOKED (1991).
Sinner gets back to their basic formula with the mid-paced melodic groove of ‘Unbreakable’ and following up with a lot of power with the fast assault of ‘Fist To Face’, a song that could easily fit on the first Primal Fear album or one of the Ripper-era Judas Priest records. The speed is kind of refreshing because ‘Fist To Face’ is exactly what I thought CRASH & BURN would sound like. I may not have expected the sound to be different on a new Sinner album but I know I didn’t expect a power ballad! ‘Until It Hurts’ has some cool guitar lines but the song sounds out of place and ‘Little Head’ sounds like something straight out of American Rock radio during the late ’90s Grunge movement. This is definitely not the sound I expected from a German Heavy Metal band, it almost sounds kind of like Green Day and/or Blink 182 but it turns out that the song is really a cover of a Marvelous 3 song. I almost want to give Sinner a pass doing a cover because I have a lot of respect for Marvelous 3 mainman Butch Walker…..but I can’t! It’s a cover song and I hate cover songs on an album when an original could be used. ‘Connection’ is definitely another Thin Lizzy inspired track complete with the harmonized twin leads. Its a pretty good Hard Rock song but it sounds a little dated…..the guitars sound so close to Lizzy that I thought it was a second cover tune in a row. The album closes on a heavier note with the U.D.O./Saxon style ‘Like A Rock’ that sounds a bit cheesy with lyrics like “I’ll rock the devil’s playground…” etc. It’s another solid song with excellent guitar and a big U.D.O. style background vocal.
Having never given Sinner a close listen, I expected fast European Power Metal but I was wrong. CRASH & BURN is a blend of straightforward ’80s Hard Rock, some AC/DC boogie, and Traditional Metal along the lines of current day Saxon and U.D.O. There are some Power Metal elements along the lines of Mat Sinner’s main band Primal Fear but that sound is more of an enhancement to the overall sound. I was surprised of the musical direction but not surprised at the musicianship and production: the music is played extremely well (especially those twin lead guitars!) and the it all sounds crystal clear. CRASH & BURN sounds very retro, very classic…..the kind of Metal I began with back in the early ’80s. Overall, I liked this record a lot and I’m going to track down the rest of the Sinner back catalogue.
A quick note: CRASH & BURN was released back in August 2008 on AFM Records for Europe but it only now gets a North American release in January 2009. There really isn’t any difference between the versions except the date.