Dee Snider - For The Love Of Metal - (8.5/10)
Published on February 18, 2019
In recent years there has been a number of disappointing stints among the remnant of the old 80s guard of heavy metal, some lasting a few years due to experimentation in the name of broadening one’s audience, whereas others seem hellbent on keeping the audience attendees ages as young as they were in 1985. Suffice it to say, Twisted Sister accomplished a rather lengthy stretch of disappointment and unfulfilled potential following their 2003 reunion to revival that of the original Ozzy-fronted Black Sabbath one that started in the late 90s by simply stagnating and continually living in the past to the point of only releasing a rerecorded version of their 1984 classic Stay Hungry and releasing a novelty Christmas album in 2006 which was followed by, nothing but live albums and compilations. Sadly, Dee Snider’s solo ventures following said TS reunion weren’t much to write home about leaving one to wonder if metal’s most glorified transvestite turned psychopath had forgotten from where he original came.
Thankfully, in stark contrast to the disappointing final whimper that was Black Sabbath’s 13, Dee had some sort of an epiphany that was in similar territory to where Judas Priest ended up on their smash return to form Firepower earlier this year, embracing the modern glory that metal has achieved and putting together a full on, unfettered ass-kicking session that no one likely saw coming. Opting to steer clear of the nostalgia practice of recruiting fellow travelers from the bygone days of big hair and bigger arenas, Snider has acquired a fresh crop of metallic warriors from northern U.S. outfits such as Toxic Holocaust, Reverence and Sonic Pulse to give his sagging and tired sound a much needed adrenaline shot. But the biggest coup that allowed this beast of an album to achieve it’s successful synthesis of new and old is the production team that was brought in, including the highly prolific and renowned engineer Christopher Harris, who’s mixing magic adorning various albums by God Forbid, 3 Inches Of Blood, Act Of Defiance and countless others speaks for itself.
As far as heavy metal albums go, let alone ones by 80s icons who are in their mid-60s, For The Love Of Metal is about as powerful of a fist to the skull as one might expect out of an outfit in their 20s. Right out of the barrel flies a bonafide modern thrash metal anthem of head-banging mayhem in “Lies Are A Business” that could pass for a recent Testament song, and Dee’s raspy vocal delivery actually manages to merge with this newly adopted style perfectly. A couple of other songs that filter in a bit later get to varying degrees of closeness to rivaling this surprising shot across the bow, with “Roll Over You” hitting more of a groove thrashing feel that could pass for the mid-paced end of the Shovel Headed Kill Machine spectrum but with a more precise and less sloppy vocal delivery, while “I’m Ready” and the title song “For The Love Of Metal” have a modern speed metal with occasional thrashing elements that lands somewhere in between recent Death Angel outings and some recent offerings by U.D.O.
Naturally some of these songs hit a bit hard than others and there are a few cases where it turns into a swing and a miss despite the consistently thunderous production. Some of the slower to mid-paced work on here as a bit more of a modernized retread of Dee’s 80s arena days, such as the sing along romp with a basic rocking drive “American Made” and the radio-oriented and somewhat metalcore-infused throwback to 80s heavy metal “Become The Storm”. These songs by no means come off as weak, and are actually extremely well performed vocally and a bit more typical to what Dee Snider has become known for, but compared to the aforementioned fits of speed thrashing pandemonium, it comes off as a bit safe. The only real moment where things get a bit awkward is the metalcore infused rocker “The Hardest Way”, which features some guest vocal work by former Killswitch Engage front man Howard Jones that is overly soulful and clashes with Dee’s more straight up snarl, not to mention a chorus segment that’s comically predictable.
It’s a rarity for any metal icon, let alone one that has been in a 15 year rut and pushing 63 years of age, to have such a dramatic return to form so late in the game, but that’s exactly what has transpired here. This is one of those uncommon occurrences where a wholly modern path being taken by one of the old guard not only works well, but could very well appeal to the lion’s share of said star’s original audience while also having heavy appeal to those who were a mere speck in their parents’ eyes when Dee Snider made a fool out of Tipper Gore and her PMRC minions on Capitol Hill. Maybe a somewhat flawed new classic, but definitely something that will prove to be relevant for years to come and be a worthy notch in an already highly decorated career. At this juncture it may be a tad presumptive to expect this to result in a new trend for a seasoned citizen of the metal nation, but another album or two like this out of Twisted Sister’s former front man would be a welcome eventuality for all concerned parties.