Sweden’s Liv Jagrell has proven she is a fitting heavy metal ambassador for this or any time, honoring both the rich history of the genre, or more modern styles with her raspy, enthusiastic ease. Be it Sister Sin‘s perfectly delivered heavy gutter glam n’ roll or the cruncified blend of styles in the Liv Sin band, she fully commits to the belief that metal is a valid way of life and the really silly ones are those who doubt and thus miss out.
Some sexist people stuck her initially with a mere “I guess she can hang with the boys club” vibe or treated Sister Sin like a novelty hard rock band Victory Records happened to sign to see if the spaghetti stuck to the wall, but she has consistently out-rocked the vast majority of any takers and lived to tell the tale. Jagrell’s power onstage has helped more than ever to ensure those kinds of arbitrary boundaries are less gendered and more about the power of the performer. She is without a doubt one of the strongest fucking bandleaders in rock and proves it further on new Liv Sin release KaliYuga! (Mighty Music)
The album’s name reflects a Hindu idea of the chaotic fourth age, sort of like a Saturn Return for the entire world before being reformed from the trials and reborn from the conflict anew. Sadly, that phrase has also recently been co-opted by shitty edge lord online alt-right trolls, climate denialist doom scroller, and nihilists who want to “surf” the end times and cause selfish harm. Well, ‘Karma’ is real and as Liv snarls on the track of the same name…it is also a bitch.
Much like one of her heroes Dee Snider of Twisted Sister, Jagrell’s newer records and the band deliver not gritty glam but rather more mid-paced, generally stomping fairly heavy metal with hard rock sprinkles. ‘Karma’ stands out with a potent climbing intro that explodes into straight groove thrash that is thrilling to hear Liv dominate, before a moodier chorus sweeps in.
I did not expect the King Diamond influence I was noticing on ‘The Swarm’, with some sudden vocal leaps and bounds from Jagrell giving way to slick, blistering guitar solos. The subtle symphonic elements on this record are also a genuine delight every time and add emotional depth and seriousness.
Liv really pushes her range on this album and expands on what we have heard from her before. The cleans are smoother and sound more confident than ever, and the goddess-from-hell huge rock vocals we love are still there but also she nails some harsher vocals more than ever for emphasis driving the point home.
‘Virus’ alternates between nu-metal stomp and Lacuna Coil-esque brooding pop moments. The chuggy and lumbering bridge brings Machine Head-worthy stomp and the band revels in the challenge of delivering this multifaceted onslaught. As the previous Liv Sin records proved, this band will do whatever they want. ‘King Of Fools’ ransacks expectations and owns you with huge backing vocals and a radical punch. Drummer Per Bjelovuk really ups the intensity consistently and deserves a shout-out.
While the cover art is a little boring and the Eye in the pyramid / Horus mash-up does not do justice to the power within, don’t judge a “book” by its’ cover, so to speak. Jagrell remains one of my favorite singers and the band delivers huge canvases of sound for her to release every emotion over. This would be a way cooler tour support than anything on the current Metallica outing… just saying.
Buy the album here:
8 / 10
MORGAN Y. EVANS