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Sinner: Brotherhood

Mat Sinner has been at this for a long time, man. While he's still probably better known as the bassist and founding member of Primal Fear, his band Sinner has been around since 1980, and have 20(!) records to their name. Quite the feat, and rather prolific considering Mat has been pulling double duty in Primal Fear with Ralf Scheepers since 1997. Album number 20, Brotherhood, is a polished and workmanlike release that comfortably coasts on the melodic metal/hard rock rails without much diversion. Nothing wrong with that, just don't expect Primal Fear's speed and Halford-esque screams in this one.

Brotherhood is aptly titled in that Mr. Sinner has brought a veritable army with him to help beef up the album's appeal (as well as liner notes). A throng of amazing guest vocalists and musicians are all over the place, although none of them are featured in a way that takes the spotlight from the main band for terribly long. The band itself does sound pretty great, and with all of the experience he's accumulated over the years the production is top notch. I'll always be a sucker for those chunky European power metal guitars and loud-ass kick drums, so no complaints there. Guitarist duo Tom Naumann (also from Primal Fear) and Alex Scholpp are a great duo, and their playing is absolutely a highlight here. This isn't a full on metal release, so they do a great job bringing in some shimmering chords from the rock world to keep things varied. The songs themselves are fairly standard fist pumping melodic numbers, and they mostly work. Think about the meat and potatoes moments from the more recent Avantasia albums as a good template of what to expect. Good time heavy rock with some fiery guitars and drums, with few frills aside from the guests.

Mat Sinner has many talents. Bassist and songwriter extraordinaire indeed, but legendary vocalist he is not. He's certainly more than serviceable as a backing vocalist in Primal Fear, but as a lead vocalist he leaves a bit to be desired. He's approaching 60, and his voice audibly has some miles on it. There's wonky vibrato all over the place, and he just sounds a bit tired on most of the release. He's certainly serviceable, but you could argue that in the world of melodic metal that having a great vocalist is probably the most important piece of the puzzle. Aside from the lyrics (more on that later), Sinner's vocals are the elephant in the room here. And it's all the more apparent when some of the stellar guest vocalists start belting (Erik MÃ¥rtensson and Tom Englund to name a few) out their parts. Regardless, the band is called Sinner, so he reserves the right to sound like Ian Gillan at his worst if he wants.

Enough griping about Sinner's pipes, let's get to the songs. This is the kind of release that really benefits from being listened to at the right time. That applies to most music, but I feel that an album like Brotherhood desperately needs to be listened to in its element to really pop. That element is having a beer with some friends at a party on a Friday night. This is a feel good release, with harmonies and sing along choruses that demand a certain level of joviality to accompany it. Not every song is a complete winner, but the title track and personal favorite song on the album "Reach Out" are examples of why this kind of music can be so awesome. The hooks are killer and uplifting, and it's just fun to listen to stuff that knows exactly what it is and what it wants to do. "Brotherhood" is confident and unapologetic in everything it tries to do. "Reach Out" sounds like the lovechild of "Tears Are Falling" by KISS and the Scorpions if they were managed by Tobias Sammet. That's a good thing, if you couldn't tell by now. The album doesn't hit highs like that all the time, though. Most of the back half of the album is competent, albeit a bit unmemorable. And speaking of unmemorable, the lyrics are largely cut and paste stuff that has been part of this genre since time immemorial. I have no problems with that when they are good (or so bad their good), but the lyrics in a song like "Gravity" are just... a bit crap. "Stupid People, they're freakin' everywhere" , while true, just doesn't sound right when backed up by a 4 piece metal band. Or possibly ever.

Brotherhood isn't a bad listen given the right time and place. The good songs are well done and enjoyable, but there just aren't enough of them on here to make it a must listen. I do think fans of the genre as well as fans of Primal Fear will actually find more than a few things to like about the album, though. This release is clearly a labor of love for Mat Sinner, and that's totally fine by me.

1. Bulletproof
2. We Came to Rock
3. Reach Out
4. Brotherhood
5. Refuse to Surrender
6. The Last Generation
7. Gravity
8. The Man They Couldn't Hang
9. The Rocker Rides Away
10. My Scars
11. 40 Days, 40 Nights

Added: April 25th 2023
Reviewer: Brandon Miles
Related Link: Band Facebook Page
Hits: 421
Language: english

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