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Sinful - Gonna Raise Hell (Reissue)

Gonna Raise Hell (Reissue)
by Kira Schlechter at 26 October 2020, 2:47 AM

Formed by Jimmy and Al, and adding Nelson and Dana later amid many personnel changes, the defunct New York band SINFUL tried to combine, as their label’s Bandcamp bio says, “the heavy metal power and majesty of JUDAS PRIEST with the progressive melody and ethereal harmony of ANGEL, with a touch of glam rock.” To an extent, they did just that. But a planned follow-up full-length effort was not to be, so their 1985 EP “Gonna Raise Hell” (reissued by Heaven and Hell Records this past summer) remains the band’s only recording.

The opener, “Burn Your Eyes,” about the joys of playing live, does sound like PRIEST with a touch of MOTLEY CRUE at the beginning. Dana’s piercing wail is loaded with lots of echoes punching through; the prechorus has tiny lashings of Al’s keyboards that give it that little proggy touch. The slightly awkward chorus (Dana’s diction and phrasing is a little off) changes keys to make it a little darker, and the solo section is a massive wall of guitars. It’s raw but it has a certain polish, at least at the outset.

“Wasted Youth” (think thematically “Youth Gone Wild” or “Living After Midnight” or any other such anthem) buzzes intensely at the start, like a motorcycle revving, and the very raw drums makes it verge on punk in its sheer raggedness and volume (the mix is super loud to the point of being painful). Again, Dana’s voice is so loaded with echo that it reverberates in the bottom of your ears. The bridge section is pleasantly murky, undefined guitars and vibrating low-end keyboards (like the motorcycle effect); the guitar strumming throughout the verses and chorus is almost inaudible, like a musical suggestion. One line made me giggle – “Life itself can be humdrum” – when was the last time you saw that word in a metal song? The little barely-drawn images throughout are sing-song and silly fun – “Pull into an alley/Walking down the street/Looking for somebody/That we’d like to beat” and “Got to roll a joint/Have a little smoke/Then we’ll feel much better/So that we can poke.”

“Midnite Sun” has a slower, more grinding tempo and a weird but certainly distinctive keening keyboard. Lyrically speaking, it’s a bit like SABBATH (“Cities of confusion/Towers left to die,” which could be construed as an eerie 9/11 premonition; “Hear the screams of terror/Slicing through the night/Smell the bodies burning/It’s time to take flight,” and “A world doomed by madmen/Who take all life in hand”). if at a slightly faster pace. The chorus is just two lines, slowing and elongating midway. The solo is psychedelic and proggy and noisy, with tons of popping bass and screeching, piercing keyboards before the guitar takes over – it’s kind of a mess, actually, with tons of stuff going on and that ever-present keyboard. It ends with a flourish, a wail, and a boom of thunder.

“You Gotta Rock” – pretty self-explanatory there – is very CRUE-like for sure, with a grinding, swinging groove heavy on the treble (like really heavy, like the bottom is almost completely eliminated in the mix, like everything is piercingly high-end – are we clear there?). The verse and prechorus build nicely, but the chorus is oddly flat – anticlimactic, unresolved, lacking punch. It’s two lines and it falls flat; singing along would be impossible and the vocal effects don't help. And the overly-echoing bridge has an oddly clashing drum line, although the bass there is a high point.

“Teenage Overdose,” with its resonant drums, big cymbals, and bright, cheery guitar riff, is marred by another super-rough mix with so, so much treble as to render it harsh and cold. The chorus is plenty of fun, even though again there’s so much high-end that it’s barely audible, literally almost metallic sounding, and Dana’s voice is really one-dimensional. Everyone had to have the temptress song back in the day, and this is definitely the strongest track, content and construction and melody wise. Here I get the ANGEL comparison – it’s tight and to the point – but they needed mixing help big time.

The final track, “Rich Bitch,” not included in the original EP, sounds like “Dr. Feelgood” with the pacing and rhythm of the lyrics (and I swear it sounds like there’s a banjo jangling along in there). Again, it’s pretty self-explanatory, but the lyrics are hard to understand because of the mix and because Dana rushes and mumbles through them with little to no enunciation. It’s got lots of sass and attitude and snottiness and naughty charm, but it’s hard to appreciate it because it’s a sonic train wreck.

With a little more time and TLC, maybe SINFUL could have reached that next level. This EP had ragged charm and room for improvement.

Songwriting: 7
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 7
Production: 6

3 Star Rating

1. Burn Your Eyes
2. Wasted Youth
3. Midnite Sun
4. You Gotta Rock
5. Teenage Overdose
6. Rich Bitch
Dana Albert - Vocals
Jimmy Ambrose - Guitar
Al Garay - Keyboards
Nelson Onofre - Drums
Record Label: Heaven and Hell Records


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Edited 03 December 2020

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