SINNER- Mask Of Sanity (MTM Music)
Though perhaps better known for being the bassist in PRIMAL FEAR, Mat Sinner (real name Mathias Lasch) is also the founder and vocalist of German traditional metal band SINNER. Indeed, if PRIMAL FEAR weren't enough of a JUDAS PRIEST wannabe band, SINNER's name alone should do enough to solidify the point that this guy is more than a bit into PRIEST-like classic 80's heavy metal. Therefore it is no surprise that Mask Of Sanity
doesn't stray far from the formula that this band has developed over a quiet 25 year period (PRIMAL FEAR has only been around for about a decade), and that formula in itself is nothing terribly exciting either. This is serviceable 80's-style heavy metal, imitated by literally thousands of bands, most of whose albums are now available for a $2 purchase in the 'Used' section of the local record shop. That is not to discredit Mat Sinner, who has persevered with his music for roughly 25 years, enduring every kind of trend imaginable and still cranking out a slab of heavy metal goodness every few years. He has stuck to the tried-and-true style established by the legends of hard rock and metal, as just about every possible cliche pops up at some point; the standard fast number, the big arena ballad, the mid-paced rocker, it's all here. The riffs scream 1986, as do the vocals and the production (oh, and especially the lyrics......yikes). Emphasis is on the hooks and melodies, and every song has something catchy about it, highlighted by Sinner's solid vocal delivery. That said, after listening nothing really seems to stick. Though the songs clearly can be distinguished from one another, this is not a record that calls for many repeated listens. It's a passable throwback that straddles the line between heavy metal and hard rock, with all the essential elements of what constituted a good, respected record 20 years ago. I give them props for sticking to their guns and playing what they love in 2007, even if its been done before a thousands times over by better bands.
The majority of the riffs are definitely solid and forceful, albeit more than a bit derivative. However, there are a few instances where the riffs sound somewhat different and catch the ear, such as in "Under The Gun". The fastest tune on here, it's also the strongest, lead by a solid main riff that sounds almost metalcore-ish in a strange way before going into one of those classic riff progression that everyone uses. The keyboard/guitar solo duo is a nice touch too, and the chorus elevates the song the way that good power metal generally does. The big ballad-type song arrives in the form of "The Sign", so predictable that its almost comical, especially how badly Mat Sinner wants to be Klaus Meine at some parts (even though his style is generally more gruff than most singers doing this music, a welcome departure from the usual David Coverdale/Rob Halford ripoffs). Still, its got one of those choruses that no matter what is gonna be cool, and a pretty killer solo. "No Return" has a major modern power metal vibe to it, starting off acoustic before rising gradually to a mid-tempo catchy chorus. Everything else generally stays in the same ballpark; super cheesy, mid-paced, hook-laden 80's heavy metal. That's about all there is to it.
Mask Of Sanity
is for the most part a forgettable album, despite there being really nothing wrong with it. Sure, its trodding a path that has been trod countless times before, but there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. This is some well-executed classic heavy metal, they've totally got it down to a tee, and again they deserve to be applauded for still doing this kind of metal no matter how unfashionable it is nowadays. Still, its not an album likely to hold any attention past a few casual listens. Those looking for an album epitomizing the classic 80's heavy metal sound should look elsewhere first, then stop by and check out SINNER afterwards.