Syracuse, New York’s Brand New Sin are blue collar to the core, as the big, burly, bearded, tattooed badasses have specialized in pure, honest, workingman’s metal for the past few years. As the American metal posterboys Lamb of God, Shadows Fall, and Mastodon have dominated the spotlight in the last 12 months, Brand New Sin have been cultivating a fan base of their own, thanks to their relentless touring, and some plum opening slots, for such bands as Slayer, Black Label Society, and Motorhead. Their 2002 self-titled album was one of that year’s strongest metal debuts, a record heavily indebted to the Southern-tinged metal of Corrosion of Conformity, Down, and Pantera, but also a fun throwback to the glory days of the beer-drenched, barroom metal of the late ‘80s, best exemplified by bands like Circus of Power and The Four Horsemen.
While Shadows Fall have become metalcore crossover successes, Mastodon have struck a chord with both metal fans and the hipster elite, and Lamb of God are on the verge of becoming the biggest American metal act today, Brand New Sin appeal to the old school crowd, audiences who want nothing but strong riffs and great melodies. Three years have passed since that first album, and the band is back, this time with Century Media, a label who knows how to hype new bands better than anyone. Now a five-piece, having done away with the three guitar sound of the last CD, Recipe For Disaster shows that all the touring the band has done has helped them greatly. The new album is not much of a departure from the first one, but the difference between the two is huge. Songs have been fleshed out, the production is much punchier, the band has added more nuance and variety to the compositions, and most impressively, lead singer Joe Altier sounds better than ever. Boasting a huge, manly bark that sounds not unlike Phil Anselmo, he has always brought more melody to the music than the former Pantera great, and on the new record, his voice is much stronger, and focuses more on melodies than the usual metalcore hollering most young bands do. This is a singer folks can rally behind.
Hearing the sound of beer cans being popped open is all the indication you need to know what kind of an album Recipe For Disaster is. Guitarists Kenny Dunham and Kris Wiechmann consistently deliver lively riffs and twin lead solos, all with a strong sense of melody, not just blunt aggression. “The Loner” opens with a terrific boogie riff that hearkens back to the late, great Dimebag, while the gritty “Black and Blue” evokes early Armored Saint, with its blend of UK metal sounds and American attitude. “Days Are Numbered” and “Dead Man Walking” are nothing more than simple blooze rock offerings, tunes that are sure to appeal to the classic rock, AC/DC-lovin’ crowd, performed with enough passion and energy to sway the skeptical listeners. “Brown Street Betty” shamelessly dips into late ‘80s glam metal (think BulletBoys) with its snaky riffs and the “whoa-oh” choruses, while “Freight Train” is steeped in a sludgy, Southern groove, its contagious chorus elevating it higher than the rather repetitive Black Label Society.
The riffs may draw you in, but it’s Altier’s presence that holds your attention for the entire album, as he proves to be a much more versatile vocalist than most of his peers. The soaring “Vicious Cycles”, not the first time the band has tipped their collective hats to Lynyrd Skynyrd, is a great showcase for the man’s range. The acoustic, country and blues tinged “Running Alone” and “Once in a Lifetime”, on the other hand, proves Altier has the ability to give any Nashville prettyboy a run for his money.
With Recipe For Disaster, Brand New Sin show much more versatility than many people have been willing to give them credit for in the past, and prove to all they’re not a drab, one-trick metal act. The record is a confident step forward, and whatever attention they get, this hard working band deserves it. To paraphrase their fiery opening cut, they’ve arrived at last.