Released: 2011, AFM Records
It is no secret that some of the key factors in the longevity of certain Metal bands are the passion and drive of the artists and fans. There are certain bands that avoid trends, ignore the fads, and continue on year after year, with or without commercial success. They continue to write, record and tour because, like us they love Metal. I would hazard a guess that at this point 30 years into a career, it’s not about the fame and fortune. I happened to notice that recently seven classic bands have reached (or are about to reach) their 30th anniversary and all of them have put our new, full-length studio albums in the past few months. 30 years is a long time in any career, especially one as fickle as the Rock ’n’ Roll business. This month, I decided to pay tribute to these fine bands in a feature where I review all their most recent releases. As of 2012, most of these bands have little or no representation on this site, and I’m here to fix that. It’s hard to imagine that almost 30 years ago, as a teenager, I was buying the debut albums of all of these bands, on cassette! The bands in this feature are Burning Starr (US), Exxplorer (US) Halloween (US), Mad Max (Ger), Oz (Fin), Sinner (Ger), Vengeance (Hol). They are the unsung, heads-down, in the trenches, Metal veterans that emerged in the very early 80’s, and are still going strong. They deserve your respect and attention.
Sinner are by far the most famous and prolific of all the bands in this feature. ONE BULLET LEFT is the bands 16th album which is pretty amazing considering that in the entire history of Heavy Metal only about three dozen bands have every made 16 or more albums. Sinner resides in that elite group because of the dedication, commitment and creativity of founder Mat Sinner.
Sinner albums have been various styles and shades as Mat indulges his writing that would not fit in his other main project, Primal Fear. Sinner is truly his solo work as he has mostly new guys helping him since his last album CRASH AND BURN in 2008. This time he has heavy hitters Andre Hilgers (Rage) on drums, Alex Beyrodt (Silent Force) on guitar and Alex Scholpp on guitar who has been working with Tarja lately. Christofer Leim is the only returning member, also on guitar but with music this stripped down, do Sinner really need three guitars? It sounds like they must take turns or share because the guitar tone is not that layered or complex like Iron Maiden for example of another famous three-guitar band.
This time Sinner channels the rock and roll spirit of Thin Lizzy. ONE BULLET LEFT is much more of a hard rock affair compared to some of his past few albums that were bordering on Power Metal. The second cut, ‘Back On Trail’ just bleeds Thin Lizzy in a elegant and respectful way. The chorus if the title track ‘One Bullet Left’ is very infectious as is the mellower closing song ‘Rolling Away’. They pick up the pace considerably with the fifth song, ’10 2 Death’ which could give Motorhead a run for their money. The band also dabbles in cover-town doing an obscure song from the long defunct band Atomic Playboys. I happen to know the album, band and song, ‘Atomic Playboys’ very well and so it was a real treat to hear this song fro 1989 redone in 2011. An interesting and non-obvious choice, I wish more bands were that adventurous with the songs they choose to cover. Mat Sinner is a bit of a vocal chameleon as he does a very respectable version, sounding much like original vocalist Perry McCarty. The song ‘Haunted’ wanders into ballad territory showing again that Sinner can actually sing, his versatile voice has a lot of character and personality bolstered by a super-catchy, mid-paced, gang-vocal chorus that has hit written all over it.
By this point Sinner (the band and the man) have nothing to loose and nothing to prove. He makes solid albums with his friends, following his muse and when time and energy permit I’m sure we will be treated to several more classic melodic Metal solo albums.