Let’s make one thing clear – if after seeing the name Dee Snider, you were just expecting to hear another standard, classic sounding, mid-late eighties Twisted Sister record, then you might want to take a moment before diving in. There are no callbacks to big hair and garish warpaint here, no ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It’, or ‘I Wanna Rock’ bouncy bubblegum rock songs, and there’s absolutely no campy “Twisted Christmas” seasonal type fun. Hell, this is barely even a Dee Snider solo album in the classic sense, so you can also forget about him repeating the likes of Never Let The Bastards Wear You Down (Koch), his Desperado album Bloodied But Unbowed (Destroyer), or even his previous solo release We Are the Ones (earMUSIC).
In fact, if new album For the Love of Metal (Napalm) is comparable to anything in the New Yorker’s lengthy and varied discography, then it would probably be Stand By For Pain (Music For Nations), the second album from his early 1990s Widowmaker project, mixed with the nastier side of Twisted’s debut record Under the Blade (Secret).
Dee Does Broadway (Razor and Tie) this most certainly is not.
Considering Snider has pretty much been the sole creative driving force for his entire career, For the Love… isn’t even a solo album in that respect either, due to the material being written by the record’s producer, Hatebreed frontman Jamey Jasta, as well as receiving creative input from the several guest musicians who also appear on the record.
Right from the opening flurry of drums at the start of ‘Lies Are a Business’, it’s clear that the mood of this album is one of a no messing about, no-fucking-nonsense nature, and the riffs continue aplenty with the galloping pace of ‘Tomorrow’s No Concern’ followed by the slower but no less heavy ‘I Am The Hurricane’.
In a different life, the rip-roaring ‘American Made’ and the sweary as flip ‘Roll Over You’ could just about conceivably have been written as Twisted Sister songs, while ‘I’m Ready’ – a track written about the recent death of Dee’s mother – has a punky vibe with some almost doomy guitar licks. ‘Running Mazes’ thumps along at its own steady pace, while ‘Mask’ features a chorus not entirely dissimilar to something Machine Head could have written.
With most of the material having been written by Jamey Jasta, it should come as no surprise that the familiar Hatebreed messages of determination and self-empowerment surface quite regularly here too, so when Dee bellows “The rain is nothing to fear when you become the storm!” during the chorus of the quite immense ‘Become the Storm’, it sounds just as bitingly honest, if not even more so.
While listening to ‘The Hardest Way’, you could be forgiven for thinking it sounds more like a Killswitch Engage song, and seeing as it’s KSE’s former vocalist Howard Jones lending his voice to the track, that would probably be the reason why. The anti-bullying song ‘Dead Hearts (Love Thy Enemy)’ features a superb – and entirely clean – vocal performance from Arch Enemy singer Alissa White-Gluz and is another standout cut, while the anthemic title track closes the album with a clutch of lyrical references to classic metal songs.
With contributions from musicians such as Mark Morton from Lamb of God, Joel Grind and Nick Bellmore of Toxic Holocaust, and Charlie Bellmore from Kingdom Of Sorrow (which explains the doomy guitar work on ‘I’m Ready’), For the Love of Metal possesses a classic metal vibe with punk and hardcore influences as well as the NWOAHM (New Wave of American Heavy Metal) scene of the early 2000s, all topped off with Snider’s familiar mighty roar. Intense and aggressive without ever sounding less than 100% sincere, the man’s voice remains tremendous throughout.
A blisteringly heavy, catchy and contemporary metal record which, largely due to his performance, also manages to capture the dirty, raw energy of early 1980s Twisted Sister. This is Dee Snider proving himself and pushing himself to the limit yet again when at the age of 63 he really doesn’t have to.