SISTER SIN
"Black Lotus"

(Victory)

01. Food for Worms
02. Chaos Royale
03. Au Revoir
04. Desert Queen
05. Count Me Out
06. Stones Thrown
07. The Jinx
08. Ruled by None
09. Sail North

RATING: 8/10

Now with twelve years under their belts, SISTER SIN makes no bones which nest they comfortably roost in with their fifth album "Black Lotus", that being a snug spot between classic American and German power metal. The album comes off frequently like HELLION with some contemporary tweaks. Never short on energy, "Black Lotus" is a popping rock record with a femme fireball on the mike and a veteran team making her blaze even more enthralling.

Liv Jagrell, who weaves her own grizzled take on Ann Boleyn with faint traces of Doro Pesch, is a metallic meteor on "Black Lotus". Streaking through some of the toughest yet most appealing set of vocals in metal today, Liv's dynamic ranges keeps the album exciting as her band pumps on the marching "Chaos Royale", the brisk "Au Revoir" and the driving strutter "Desert Queen". The latter song makes one of the best cases for SISTER SIN's east-meets-west methodology as an ACCEPT-like thrum on the verses sets up choruses bent with glam zaps from L.A. yesteryear.

The cello and synths opening the chunky rocker "Count Me Out" rings like the SCORPIONS and DOKKEN, both at their heaviest. As SISTER SIN sinks in their hooks with this number, Liv Jagrell snarls "stay the fuck away from me, out of sight and mind, it's all I've ever asked of thee." There's bombast and brimming keys behind her tirade, which she rides by escalating her vocals to near-shrieks and thus "Count Me Out" is certain to be an automatic sing-along prompter at live performances.

"Stones Thrown" begs a duet with Doro Pesch as the band plows through a standard metal anthem for Liv to swagger all over. The snaking verses give way to robust choruses that keeps the heart of the album pulsing, and Jimmy Hiltula courses more adrenaline with his vigorous guitar solo. The acoustic intro and whistling keys of "The Jinx" ring of ballad, but the heavier guitar strums and increasing assertiveness of Dave Sundberg's clomping beat inevitably spikes the song to a knocking climax. Treading close toward HALESTORM turf without crossing over wholly, SISTER SIN turns a likeable trick in giving "The Jinx" some girth.

There's a decided MÖTLEY CRÜE feel to the primary riffs of "Sail North" before the song rips away into HELLION territory. Prior to that, "Ruled by None" is all attitude from Dave Sundberg's clobbering tempo to the backup shouts behind Liv Jagrell's forthright call to arms. Sundberg, who wrote the lyrics for "Black Lotus", utilizes "Ruled by None" along with many other songs as self-empowering platforms which Liv fields as stoically as any male counterpart.

SISTER SIN have their components knuckled down and it's not a question of their entertainment worth. This band kicks plenty of ass and that seems enough for them. Everything about "Black Lotus" is tight and rocking and far as retro metal goes, this band has it going on. Jagrell is a superstar devoid of the spotlight's full illumination, much like her predecessor, Ann Boleyn. That's simply a case of competition. What makes SISTER SIN so good, however, is Jagrell's supporting cast and they all deserve a brighter cadence flooding upon them. "Black Lotus" feels like a make-or-break effort and fortunately, everyone in this band stands tall on the make side.

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