Sinbreed - IV - (9/10)
Published on February 14, 2019
The Mighty Spawn Of Sin Returns!
Sinbreed remains one of the most unique adherents of the German speed/power metal scene to come raging out of the millennial revival, though in the beginning they went by the name Neoshine. They’ve maintained a sound over the years that conforms all but equally to the melodic splendor of Helloween and also the more thrashing bite and bluster of Blind Guardian and their Swedish doppelgangers Persuader, all the while maintaining a wholly Christian-oriented lyrical content that dovetailed with the involvement of vocalist Herbie Langhans, arguably one of the most important figures of said side of the power metal scene and one who’s original flagship project Seventh Avenue predated Narnia and the resulting Swedish school headed by Christian Rivel. Suffice it to say, when news hit earlier this year that Langhans had left Sinbreed, the author of this review joined many in morphing from true believer to hardened skeptic insofar as this band’s future, even as it was revealed that a rising star in the European power metal world in Nick Holleman was stepping up to fill the void on the plainly titled album IV after a brief stint with Vicious Rumors.
Surprisingly enough, despite having a radically different vocal approach, Holleman manages to settle into the driving, speed-infused splendor of this outfit all but seamlessly, finding himself the impresario of a revitalized band bent on reliving the glory of their crowning achievement in 2014’s Shadows. His voice is far smoother, airier and higher-pitched than his gravely predecessor, having far more in common with a past, 20 something incarnation of either Andre Matos (during his tenure in the 80s with Viper) or perhaps Lance King when at his most intense. The resulting catharsis of this smooth, late-80s Helloween vocal approach with the jagged edges of a riff happy speed metal backdrop intense enough to rival Stormwarrior or even Grave Digger is nothing short of brilliant, creating all but a perfect bridge between the two divergent German schools of power metal into a finely tuned speed machine. Truth be told, from a purely musical standpoint, this is about the most consistently fast and furious offering to come out of the scene and bears a greater resemblance to the most recent outings of Judicator and Ancestral, all the while keeping that bare essentials guitar, bass and drums arrangement front and center.
Barring a rather brief yet unforgettable acoustic prelude that kicks off the album and some rock organ noodling that ornaments the closing speeder “Through The Fire”, there isn’t really much to find on here in way of gimmicks. A rather cliche merger of sea shanty tunes translated into a dueling harmony guitar arrangement and a more swinging mid-paced romp in “Final Call” presents the only real outright interruption in the full on speed assault, yet even here the overall impression is an aggressive one isn’t too much of a far cry from Blind Guardian. Generally the point of differentiation beyond this is just how utterly infectious the melodic content of each riff-happy cruiser on here is from one to the next, with the opening “First Under The Sun” and correspondingly speedy and catchy offerings of “Pale-Hearted” and “Pride Strikes”. Special mention should likewise be made of the longer and somewhat more measured galloping epic “At Least I Am”, which mixes things up a bit more thematically, includes some occasional harsher vocal moments and a brilliant set of noodling dueling lead guitar passages, not to mention a wild guitar solo that would make Roland Grapow proud.
The sizable and intensely loyal fan base that this band has likely accrued over the past several years due to their closer association with Blind Guardian and their very qualitatively consistent output may need some time to adjust to Holleman’s lighter vocal style, but this will do more than allay their fears of this band coming to an untimely demise, at least for now. The foundation is set here for what could well be an equally if not more powerful incarnation of this band to continue for the years to come, hopefully seeing several successors to this fine piece of studio work will be on the near horizon. This may even well expand Sinbreed’s base as the vocal work further reveals the underlying melodic quality of this band’s overall sound, likely roping in fans of the lighter sound inherent to acts like Freedom Call, Angra and even the sizable Christian power metal scene that has remained throughout the past two decades in Sweden and seen expansion into parts of Eastern Europe. There is no telling what the enigmatic druid/Nazgul mascot of this band will be up to next time around, but everyone with even an iota of allegiance to the German power metal scene ought to be anxious to find out.