Metal primed to scar the masses.
Some old dogs can not only learn new tricks, but pull them off about as well as ones half their age, or at least that’s the motto that former Twisted Sister front man and 80s heavy metal icon Dee Snider has been living by in recent years. Having always had a penchant for the theatrical and often drawing from an eclectic well of influences, his exploits since the 1988 split of his original claim to fame have been all over the place, including but not limited to a blues/rock stint as the mastermind of the late 80s project Desperado, the symphonic conceptual metal production Van Helsing’s Curse, and even occasionally dabbling in movies as both a writer and actor. His ventures as a solo artist have been no less varied in terms of style, but even in terms of quality as he’s occasionally strayed completely off the reservation in search for a new sound. But in 2018 when joining forces with Hatebreed front man Jamey Jasta as producer and the engineering expertise of drummer Nick Bellmore, Dee would find a new modern metallic niche that would rocket him back into prominence in metal circles once more.
With three years having passed since the colossal fury that was “For The Love Of Metal” brought Dee’s commanding vocal presence into the present day and all the drama of 2020 to boot, his follow up studio effort “Leave A Scar” proves equal to its status of successor to the aforementioned new classic. Having retained the services of both Jasta and Bellmore in shaping this new venture, the same blend of old school melodic sensibilities with a heavy-hitting, modern speed/thrash and metalcore-infused edge has emerged once more, this time relying a bit more on polished instrumental performances and powerful songwriting and less so on guest vocalists to achieve its contemporary bona fides. Between the meaty riff assault and occasional flashy soloing brilliance of guitarists Nick Petrino and Charlie Bellmore, and the mighty battery of the rhythm section in bassist Russell Pzutto and engineer Nick Bellmore on drums, this is the sort of fist-pumping metal bluster that rests somewhere between Accept’s recent output and the jagged edges of the New England metalcore sound of the 2000s.
The album’s very title “Leave A Scar” proves so fitting that it almost hurts, as from the onset of the first riff, an impression is left right in the listener’s skull. Opening cruiser and killing machine “I Gotta Rock (Again)” drives along with all the fury that one would come to expect from a post-“Painkiller” Judas Priest speeder, showcasing some occasional modern thrash flourishes as Snider’s gravely shout adapts itself seamlessly to its highly compressed surroundings. Not content to simply hit its intended audience with a single high octane fist to the gut, an equally formidable quasi-thrashing modern metal beast in “All Or Nothing” hits the speakers next, and is itself chased by a slightly more melodic yet still aggressive crusher dubbed “Down But Never Out”, rounding out an impressive trilogy of inspirational anthems of self-empowerment. It almost seems impossible that the same voice that brought us all “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and “The Price” is now hitting grooves as heavy as the likes of Killswitch Engage, and an even more furious speed metal assault like “The Reckoning” ups the ante before all is said and done.
Nevertheless, it should be noted that even though this is a far cry from the days when Snider was donning borderline transvestite apparel, it is an album that doesn’t wholly forget the days of infectious hooks and hard rock nostalgia that birthed his musical career. Despite the extremely heavy production, mid-paced offerings such as “Open Season” and “In For The Kill” trade blows between sounding like modern metalcore and old school 80s arena fodder in a fairly evenhanded manner. “Silent Battles” becomes even more overt in its older heavy metal stylings, coming off along the lines of a modernized nod to the rock and soulful sleaze of Dokken, and Dee’s own vocal approach is correspondingly more measured. But the moments where the old ways really come raging back is on the dynamic semi-balladry of “Crying For Your Life” and the somewhat dreary yet defiant closing anthem “Stand”, arguably showing the greatest level of depth and versatility as a singer that Snider has ever exhibited, and accompanied by an equally compelling melodic guitar display.
For those old time fans of Twisted Sister who are normally averse to the sort of larger and louder than life modernity that has been the order of the day in metal of late, this may prove an ideal gateway into something beyond their usual purview. By the same token, this is the sort of album that could engender a greater respect for the older ways of heavy metal that might not be on the playlists of younger metal trustees who consider Jasta’s work with Hatebreed to be the real deal. It’s a near perfect hybrid of the past and the present that has proven to have continued potential for the future given a solid track record from its predecessor, which it has slightly surpassed in this writer’s estimation. If nothing else, it affords everyone the opportunity to hear Dee Snider trade blows on a high octane thrashing machine with Cannibal Corpse front man George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher as heard on “Time To Choose”, which is definitely not something one hears everyday.
Released By: Napalm Records
Released On: July 23rd, 2021
Genre: Heavy Metal
“Leave A Scar” track-listing:
1- I Gotta Rock (Again)
2- All Or Nothing More
3- Down But Never Out
4- Before I Go
5- Open Season
6- Silent Battles
7- Crying For Your Life
8- In For The Kill
9- Time To Choose
11- The Reckoning
“Leave A Scar” will be available in the following formats:
- CD Jewel Case
- CD Jewel Case + Shirt Bundle
- 1LP Gatefold BLACK
- 1LP Gatefold GOLD (Napalm Mailorder only – limited to 400)
- 1LP Gatefold SPLATTER RED/BLUE/WHITE (Napalm Mailorder only – limited to 300)
- Dee-Hard 1LP Gatefold Edition RED/BLACK Marbled – LP size Album Art Patch & Slipmat (Napalm Mailorder only – limited to 200)
- Dee-Lux Wooden Box Edition: JC, 7″ Single, Leather Wristband, Logo Pin (Napalm Mailorder only – limited to 500)
- Digital Album
Dee Snider band line-up:
- Dee Snider / Vocals
- Charlie Bellmore / Guitar & Background Vocals
- Nick Bellmore / Drums
- Russell Pzütto / Bass & Background Vocals
- Nick Petrino / Guitar & Background Vocals
Following a brilliant showing in 2018’s For The Love Of Metal, which recast 80s heavy metal icon Dee Snider as a current day force to be reckoned with, the former Twisted Sister front man returns to deliver another colossal, modern metal opus to usher in the post-lockdown landscape