Swedish sleaze-metal vets Sister are back with their third full-length album, Stand Up, Forward, March! The band is attempting to go bigger and badder on this release than they have in the past. But as we are about to find out, bigger and badder means different things to different people. To me it means bigger hooks, choruses, and arrangements, and badder, sleazier lyrics. To Sister, well, maybe not so much.
When one thinks of sleaze metal bands, Zodiac Midwarp, L.A. Guns, Faster Pussycat and Skid Row come to mind. Sister aim to be part of this group, but fail. They come across more like a Smashed Gladys with even worse singing. Jamie Anderson has a style all his own, but it’s not a good one. In fact, his voice is the most annoying part of Stand Up, Forward, March! At best the man has a hoarse warble, and at worst he sounds painfully constipated.
The overall sound of the band isn’t much better. Drums are overproduced and harsh, while the guitar solos clip the speakers constantly. In fact, this is one of the worst-mastered albums of the year. The record is so compressed and cranked that it sounds like it’s been run into a brick wall by a semi-trailer. It’s virtually unlistenable.
Looking for positives, though, there are a few here, and they might be more obvious if not for the sonic catastrophe described above. The band knows how to write some nifty hooks (“Destination Dust,” “Unbeliever,” and “Dead Man’s Dirt” all show potential), and they deliver rousing choruses throughout, although with the weak vocals this can be hard to notice.
Sister try hard to make a bold, brash album full of punk-tinged sleaze, but what they ultimately end up creating is an annoying, exhausting, cacophonous mess highlighted by horribly noisy drums, nails-on-chalkboard guitar solos, and excruciatingly bad singing. And it’s too bad, because some of these songs do show promise, with a smattering of decent hooks and good choruses. In this case, less would have been more.
(released November 25, 2016 on Metal Blade Records)