Although they started largely unknown outside of their native Sweden, extreme-rock quartet Sister eventually broke out into the international arena with the release of their EP Dead Boys Making Noise in 2009, which got them signed to Metal Blade the following year. After their well-received full-length debut Hated and successful shows with the likes of Fozzy, U.D.O. and (long-time FEARNET fave) Wednesday 13, the band quickly became one of rock & metal's most talked-about names; natually, old and new fans have been clamoring for a follow-up.
The wait is over next Tuesday with the arrival of Disguised Vultures – and while it's definitely the band's most polished record to date, it manages to balance the their aggressive attitude and flamboyant glam-rock stylings with just the right edge of old-school grit and grime. That sound is described by the label as “the bastard child of GG Allin and Guns N' Roses,” and that's actually a pretty dead-on description; I'd also wager the late notorious shock-rocker may have the dominant gene in this particular hybrid.
While some band members have been sporting a black metal-inspired look lately, the music itself draws more deeply from Misfits-style horror punk and '80s metal than any other genre – and that's apparent in the abrasive and powerful opening cut “My Enemy” and the grim but energized anthem "Arise." With crunchy, heavily overdriven riffs (even the bass has a distinctive crackle) and gravel-throated vocals, most tracks circle back to simple but effective lead melodies, though often offset by a seriously scary tone. This is most notable on the title track – a dose of flamboyant '80s raunch-rock – and the leading single “Sick,” which balances the darker themes with an anthemic, arena-pleasing approach. Listen:
The brooding follow-up single "Naked" is another strong entry, a down-tempo creeper which, along with lumbering cuts like "We Salute 'Em," darkens the tone of the album's second half several shades. After a brief return to turbo punk anthems like "DMN" and the exhilarating "(Stop the) Revolution," the record closes out on a strong note with the soaring strummed acoustic chords of "Please Kill Me," which despite its title is the most uplifting song on the record.
For a band that stirs such a wide range of familiar styles and imagery into the pot, Sister has managed to serve up a surprisingly fresh sound, helped immensely by a rough-and-rowdy approach; their haunting image may seem at odds with the flamboyant delivery, but bands with even deeper contradictions have pulled off the same feat with much success (most memorably their fellow countrymen Ghost). The right kind of energy is essential, of course, and that menacing, carnivorous attitude serves them well. They may have laid the groundwork with Hated, but Vultures is a much stronger effort which will likely expand Sister's fanbase across the Atlantic and beyond.