Leave a Scar: is the Twisted Sister frontman writing some of the best music of his career?

Dee Snider is a man who should need no introduction. From fronting one of the biggest rock bands of the 80s to famously fighting against the censorship of music, he has done a lot in the public eye in the past. However, since his original band started winding down and then called it a day over the last five years or so, he has gone on to release music under his own name… and it’s HEAVY. Not once did I expect the ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It’ singer to release an almost thrash album, but 2018’s ‘For the Love of Metal’ was practically that. His latest work, ‘Leave a Scar’, was released last week and is his third solo album. I have always been a huge fan of the man and his solo music, and he is still incredible live too, so I have been excited for this one for weeks!

‘I Gotta Rock (Again)’ immediately starts the heaviness off with a couple of huge guitar riffs, backed by cymbal-heavy drums and an awesome opening call from Dee. The awesome riffs continue through the verse and Dee’s vocals sound as pitch-perfect and powerful as ever; the man seems ageless. The chorus kicks in fast and hard and it’s catchy as hell, the chanted backing vocals helping it out a lot. The duelling solos are also both fantastic – fast, technical and perfectly fitting with the tone of the song. If there was ever a modern song that needed to be on a Guitar Hero game, it’s this one. The slowed-down chorus after was a nice touch before a massive final one takes us home. An amazing opener and one that easily made the playlist!

The insane riffs continue through the start of ‘All or Nothing More’, this feeling more like a Testament album than something that came from anyone who was in Twisted Sister. It quickly reaches another catchy chorus, this one feeling a little more like a modern metal style like it was ripped straight from a metalcore song. The breakdown riff after the second chorus was good, even if it did remind me a little too much of the main riff from the last album’s title track. The solos were again great and led into another great double chorus to finish things off, this time with the surprising inclusion of some screaming from the backing vocals. Another strong song!

‘Down But Never Out’ launches straight into what I assume are the chorus vocals over the top of yet another great riff. They stop and we get a brief but great solo before the verse vocals kick in. They’re fast and powerful, including more chanting backing vocals. It was a little hard to distinguish between the verse and chorus with this one though, as the riffs are pretty similar and so is the vocal delivery. Another little breakdown is followed by another great solo and another pre before we get a fantastic extended outro breakdown. It was heavy, stomping and very enjoyable just like the whole song.

‘Before I Go’ gives off slightly lighter, more AOR vibes, despite its still blistering speed. It’s still damn good though, the chorus maybe being the best of the album. It reminds me of another big name in the 80s’ solo project, Sixx AM. The slower, lighter pace really helps, making it stand out from the other tracks so far. It follows the same format as the other songs, a short bridge/breakdown part before a briefer guitar solo this time around. There’s a nice little bit of clean guitar afterwards, but it did feel a little out of place in the track. We then get a final, Maiden-esque chorus to end on.

 While ‘Open Season’ does feel a little more of the same at this point, this track showcases the production quality of the album – especially with the drums. Every bass hit was crisp, clear, and powerful, adding so much to the track. 

I had similar feelings about the following track, ‘Silent Battles’. It’s a steadier song, but still had a lot of the same feeling as the previous songs. I thought ‘Crying for your Life’ would be different as it started slower, mainly focusing on the clean guitar chord progression and vocals. It does pick up the pace and distortion about a minute into it, but it still feels different enough to hold my attention. It’s more of a groove metal track than thrash like the others and there are various different parts that were awesome and catchy, not just vocally but including the guitar riffs too. It was a very enjoyable track and another that makes the playlist easily!

Both ‘In for the Kill’ and ‘Time to Choose’ go back to their more thrash-oriented style. Both are great songs in their own right, but it’s a lot of the same on one album and that makes it hard to review without repeating myself. The only bonus is the version of ‘Time to Choose’ below also has Corpsegrinder from Cannibal Corpse, which automatically makes it 100000x more metal.

‘S.H.E.’ is still pretty similar, but for some reason it caught my attention a little more than some of the others. It was damn catchy, especially in the chorus, and the stomping pace through the verse was infectious and something I would LOVE to see live. ‘The Reckoning’ again stood out mainly for the drums, the double bass work in the opening riff/chorus being mighty impressive and sounds MASSIVE. However, outside of that, it is just more awesome, samey heavy metal.

The final track on the album, ‘Stand’ is the slowest song on the album. While I usually have an issue with the ballad of the album being the final song, leaving the album on a whimper instead of a bang, this track was at least heavy enough to carry itself to an epic finish. The clean guitars are beautiful behind Dee’s vocals, and the choruses sound huge when the distorted guitar chords come in over the top. The lyrics for this track are also the best on the album, a great call to arms full of positive reinforcement. It did feel like it maybe needed some long and powerful notes at the end to drive it home. Instead, it does kind of fade out, but as a whole the song worked pretty well.

Overall: This was another fantastic album from a man who for all intents and purposes “shouldn’t” be pumping out this sort of quality and heaviness in his mid-late 60s. The man defies all expectations again and again and also has one of the best backing bands around today. The whole album is filled with huge riffs, catchy vocal lines and honestly, there isn’t a bad song on it. He’s hit it out of the park again.

Score: 8.5/10

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