In most groups of metal fans, there is one person that is affectionately dubbed “the crusty old-timer”, or another similar term. This is the guy that still has the vinyl copy of Kill ‘Em All that he bought thirty years ago, owns enough Iron Maiden shirts to wear a different one every day of the month, and always groans when you put on a metal record by any band that got big after 1992. The crusty old-timer in your group should probably listen to Sister Sin, because they’re one band that got big after 1992 without obviously sounding like it. On Now and Forever, the group’s fourth album, these Swedes offer up their latest slab of hard-hitting, zero-filler heavy metal.
If there is one thing that Sister Sin undoubtedly has going for them, it’s the ability of singer Liv Jagrell to seamlessly emulate the one and only Doro Pesch. Jagrell’s vocals are so similar to those of the legendary Warlock singer, it’s easy to imagine Now and Forever being the lastest of Doro’s solo albums. Ironically enough, Doro was a guest vocalist on Sister Sin’s cover of “Rock N Roll” by Motörhead, which was released as a single in 2011. Now and Forever may have listeners thinking that Doro replaced Jagrell on lead vocals, but this record is purely Jagrell ensuring her place as one of the best female vocalists in modern heavy metal. Her incredible range is nearly unmatched, and with the same raspy harshness that made Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine and Testament’s Chuck Billy into thrash icons, Jagrell is sure to excite old-school thrash lovers just as much as she does loyal fans of classic British and German heavy metal.
The excellent vocals are the highlight of the record, and Jagrell’s performance is the linchpin that makes Sister Sin excellent, but the instrumentation on Now and Forever is certainly nothing to sneer at, either. This record marks the debut of new bassist Andreas Strandh, who joined the group in 2010 after they released True Sound of the Underground. Strandh acquits himself well on this record, despite being a mostly unknown talent, and his bass chops are certainly on par with those of his predecessor, Benton Wiberg. Lineup mainstays Jimmy Hiltula and Dave Sundberg turn in their usual solid performances on guitar and drums, respectively, rounding an album that blends the NWOBHM and thrash styles into an anthemic metal album that sounds like it was written in 1987. And even though the compositions can sometimes blend together or sound similar from one song to the next, the record does not get flat or boring at any given point, as the energy and power of the ensemble performance is enough to drive this album from start to finish.
Now and Forever may not be an innovative, groundbreaking album, but the music featured here is proof enough that not every record has to have those qualities to be good. Sometimes, the most tried-and-true methods of getting things done are the best, and that is certainly the case here. Sister Sin has the chops and the energy to match the most veteran thrash outfits and heavy metal legends on stage, and their songs fit in perfectly with those of Accept, Saxon, Testament, and other venerable groups that came of age in the ’80s. Give this record a spin and see how the crusty old-timer in your metal cadre reacts to it. You may just help him find a reason to explore some other groups of the last decade.