Sinner – Brotherhood – Album Review
Album Title: Brotherhood
Label: Atomic Fire Records
Date of Release: 15 July 2022
When you consider how much Mat Sinner (real name Matthias Lasch) has suffered with his health over the past year or more, it is a cause alone for some celebration to hear Sinner back doing what he loves. He may not be able to play live with Primal Fear still, for whom he remains the bassist and co-founder along with Ralf Scheepers, but he has been instrumental in the creation of this, the eighteenth album with Sinner, the self-titled band that he created back in 1982.
As important as this context is, I’ll be honest and say that I wasn’t expecting an awful lot from ‘Brotherhood’. And that’s because – say it quietly – I’ve never been a massive fan of Sinner, the band. I have a couple of their albums on my shelves, but they are not one of the most important names in my collection. It all means that I am very pleasantly surprised by ‘Brotherhood’ and the subsequent tone of this review.
This latest album is comprised of eleven tracks, or twelve if you include the bonus track on physical formats, a cover of ‘When You Are Young’ by The Killers. This bonus song is one of a small handful that I’m less keen on, but for the most part, ‘Brotherhood’ contains some of the best, heaviest, and strongest material I’m aware of within the lengthy Sinner discography. There’s also a lengthy list of guests that feature on this album, including Oliver Palotai (Kamelot), Tom Englund (Evergrey), Ralf Scheepers (Primal Fear), Erik Mårtensson (Eclipse), Dave Ingram (Benediction), and Ronnie Romero (Lords Of Black, Rainbow).
I’m forced to realign my expectations from the very beginning, thanks to ‘Bulletproof’, a song that begins with the sound of a gun being cocked and then we’re off. The opening riff from Tom Naumann and Alex Scholpp is an up-tempo, fierce beast, the rhythm section of drummer Markus Kullman alongside bassist Sinner is powerful to match and drive the song forward at a fair lick. And the chorus when it arrives relatively early in the piece is a catchy little so-and-so that I took to on the first listen. Sinner’s characteristically gritty and energetic vocals top it all off, signalling that we might be in for a bit of a melodic metal treat with ‘Brotherhood’.
And I’m not far wrong either, as the opening half of the album is a steady stream of high-quality material that is hard-hitting and heavy, yet infectious and highly memorable. ‘We Came To Rock’ is a blistering song that is part no-nonsense bulldozing heavy metal, and part melodic and engaging, with real attitude baked in for good measure. The chorus wasn’t an instant as others, but by goodness is it a slow burning powerhouse.
Things shift slightly with ‘Reach Out’, which displays more of a melodic had rock feel, with a vein of nostalgia running through it. It oozes energy and enthusiasm from the beginning and not only is the chorus a glorious sing-along affair, but you can’t help but love the little guitar accents and moments of flamboyance that add to the swagger of the song. The melodic hard rock vibe continues within the title track which has a quasi-ballad feel to it within the more sensitive chorus, whilst the subject matter underpins the obvious love that these guys have for each other and for their fanbase across the world. ‘You’re not alone, we will rock it side by side…it’s brotherhood’ is the lyric that some might feel is a little over-the-top, but which actually resonates in a very positive way with me. I love this sentiment, particularly as you feel it’s completely genuine and honest.
The variety on display throughout ‘Brotherhood’ is perhaps not the surprise it might be, given all of the guests that feature on the record. It may not be surprising, but it is a very welcome and positive element, ensuring that the listener remains engaged for the most part from start to finish.
‘Refuse To Surrender’ is a beefy, muscular melodic metal song with a great, stomping central riff that seeks to flatten houses at twenty paces. And, whilst on the subject of riffs, ‘My Scars’ features a riff that could so easily have featured favourably on Metallica’s ‘Black Album’, not to mention a couple of really cool lead solos for added enjoyment.
I’m not such a fan of ‘Gravity’ which reminds me of a quote from El Macho, a character in ‘Despicable Me 2’ when the words ‘someone will die tonight’. Add to this the line ‘Stupid people, they’re freaking everywhere’, and despite agreeing with the sentiment, it’s a little cheesy for my tastes. However, this slight misstep is more than made up for with songs like ‘The Last Generation’ and ’40 Days 40 Nights’.
The former of the two is the longest and most grandiose on offer on the record, and it’s marvellous. By far and away the most dramatic and cinematic, thanks to the lush synths and orchestration, it is also one of the catchiest as far as I’m concerned, making it a proper anthem. The latter is the closing track and though it might divide opinion, I love it. An out-and-out 80s style power ballad, what makes it such a success is the deliciously melodic chorus, the vocals, and the performances all around, that show 100% commitment to the track.
And that last point is an accurate description of the entire album, because I love the enthusiasm and the absolute commitment from all concerned on this album, because it makes it the big success that it undoubtedly is. Approaching this review from a position of mild interest, I am delighted to report that my opinion towards Sinner has massively shifted. ‘Brotherhood’ is a real gem of an album – a varied, well-written, and enthusiastically performed collection of top quality melodic heavy metal that will bring a smile to the face of all but the most cynical and miserable of metal fans. I like this record…a lot.
The Score of Much Metal: 91%