Atomic Fire
rating icon 8 / 10

Track listing:

01. Bulletproof
02. We Came To Rock
03. Reach Out
04. Brotherhood
05. Refuse To Surrender
06. The Last Generation
07. Gravity
08. The Man They Couldn't Hang
09. The Rocker Rides Away
10. My Scars
11. 40 Days 40 Nights
12. When You Were Young (The Killers cover)

After over four decades of relentless rocking, most people would have run out of ideas and found something less exhausting to pursue. Luckily, Mat Sinner is not most people. The German has been prolific and resolute for 40 years now, both with SINNER and the reliably steel-plated PRIMAL FEAR, and while no one would look to his catalogue for progressive invention or radical detours, his involvement in any project comes with an unspoken guarantee of quality. Remarkably, "Brotherhood" is SINNER's 20th studio album, and just like 2019's "Santa Muerte", it's one of the band's best.

There have been highs and lows in SINNER's recorded history, but Mat Sinner is enjoying a fresh streak of top form. The last PRIMAL FEAR album (2020's "Metal Commando") was proof of that, and "Brotherhood" rams the point home with even more vigor. SINNER's music is avowedly traditional: big, bombastic songs that exist at the perfect midpoint between hard rock and heavy metal, and with plenty of giant, instantly memorable choruses and sublime, old-school, melodic solos. It shouldn't be a surprise that Mat Sinner has come close to perfecting the formula after so many years, and "Brotherhood" never deviates from its creator's established sound, but somehow this feels like an important milestone in the SINNER story.

The production is easily the heaviest and sharpest of the band's career, and any sense of dewy-eyed nostalgia is banished as a result. More importantly, the majority of these songs are up there with the very best of those 19 previous albums. "Bulletproof" and the title track are instant anthems, with Mat Sinner in fine, gravelly voice, and audibly energized by the music erupting around him. "The Last Generation" is a stylish, tearstained epic that would qualify as a ballad if it wasn't so damn heavy. "The Man They Couldn't Hang" is a blustery, theatrical piece with symphonic trimmings and an exquisite, MAIDEN-like mid-section; "The Rocker Rides Away" is an exhilarating, foot-to-the-floor metal shit-kicker. Even the somewhat schmaltzy, radio-rock haze of closing ballad "40 Days 40 Nights" has sufficient muscle and menace to hit the target, while a most unexpected, bonus cover version of THE KILLERS' "When You Were Young" makes enough (perverse) sense to justify its inclusion.

Diehard to the bone and seemingly destined to go out in a blaze of heavy metal glory when his legs eventually give way, Mat Sinner is an authentic hero. "Brotherhood" takes his tireless ethos and slaps us all around the face with it. Let's rock. Again.

Author: Dom Lawson
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