It was once standard practice for iconic vocalists to enlist top producers and songwriters to help them find the right songs and shape a sound to suit their voice. Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra, for example, never wrote a note, of course.
So it shouldn’t have been a surprise that Dee Snider’s approach on his last studio album, 2018’s For The Love Of Metal, handing over the creative reins to Hatebreed’s Jamey Jasta to produce and co-write a contemporary metal album for him, proved to be an inspired one.
But while on that album he sang compositions co-written by Jasta’s Kingdom Of Sorrow bandmates Nick and Charlie Bellmore and a few well-chosen guests, for this follow-up he’s chipped in with his own lyrics and doubled down on the newschool-meets-old-metal sound, with Jasta again at the production controls and the Bellmore brothers in an agreeably fired-up engine room.
While Twisted Sister frontman Snider has suggested that this album will offer “messages to and for the silent voices in the world who need someone to speak out on their behalf”, we needn’t expect such things as nuanced meditations on mental health and the plight of oppressed minorities.
He’s more focused on solutions than on problems, and we can sum up his view, broadly speaking, as: don’t worry, be heavy. ‘While my mind is still screaming, I can’t stop/Be a lifer till I’m done, gonna ride it till I’m gone,’ he sings on anthemic opener I Gotta Rock (Again), and the suggestion is that the determined, rabble-rousing spirit fuelling all these songs will go a long way to lifting us all out of the mire.
All Or Nothing (‘It’s your life, pick yourself up off that floor’) blends air-punching metalcore chants with pummelling thrash assault and soaring power-metal chorus hooks; Down But Never Out (‘There’s no reason to surrender, fight to turn it around’) is a fist-clenched cavalry charge of a track, with snatches of twin-guitar riffs recalling Iron Maiden’s war-epic oeuvre amid the high-octane riff-churn.
If at times, like on In For The Kill, Snider and his band sound a touch too keen to fly headlong into the wind-in-the-hair chorus, it’s a reflection of an enduring determination to keep the tempo high and the thrills to the fore, bringing the rock’n’roll catharsis at every opportunity.
Here is a man old enough to pick up his pension, urging us to rage hard against the dying of the light. And he’s a pretty damn convincing voice.