Sinner – Santa Muerte (AFM Records)

Wednesday, 4th September 2019
Rating: 8/10

Willing to accept the risk of alienating followers and introducing new members to the Sinner camp, bassist/vocalist Mat Sinner knows that he’s up for the challenge after releasing albums for 35 years with his namesake. Santa Muerte welcomes a second voice to fold – Giorgia Colleluori, where Mat noticed her with her original band Eternal Idol. Add in some special guest appearances with Ricky Warwick (Black Star Riders) and Ronnie Romero (Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow), and it’s apparent that Sinner on this go around add their melodic hard rock/heavy metal platform with some vocal versatility, ensuring a dynamic offering at the very least in terms of voices and melodies.

Those who love the twin guitar harmonies a la Thin Lizzy will find plenty of fire power from Tom Naumann and Alex Scholpp throughout “Fiesta y Copas” and “Craving”, a staple of Sinner for quite some time, and aligning well with the lower, bluesy register of Mat’s natural vocal delivery. Giorgia adds that upper register, explosive energy when the band chooses to push more of the double kick performances, playing off Mat well during early album highlight “Last Exit Hell”. Ricky’s appearance on “What Went Wrong” is a no-brainer – the main hook and chorus resembling classic Thin Lizzy, a very straightforward rocker featuring a proficient shred lead break that should go down a storm live should it make the final cut for a setlist. Sinner know how to lay down some sinister bluesy heavy grooves too, the interplay between bass, drums and Giorgia’s emotional melodies makes “The Wolf” a serious mid-tempo headbanger. You would think “The Ballad of Jack” would be… well, a ballad – instead tipping their cap to more Celtic/Irish cultural harmonies in an upbeat fashion, Mat and Giorgia joining voices together for an uplifting chorus of splendor.

The multiple voices paint broader color strokes for this material – which could pay dividends in the long run when it comes to writing material and picking proper spots for highlights. It’s a transitional effort that doesn’t take Sinner away from their dual guitar-infused melodic hard rock/metal wheelhouse, putting Santa Muerte in league with most of the studio albums they’ve delivered over the past decade.

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