The year was 1997. The internet had been around for a few years. For those of us who were still “stuck” in the 80’s (as I was often told), the internet was an amazing tool to find bands who had stuck to their guns through the Grunge years. As it turns out there were many of them around the world and some places where true Rock and Metal never really went away.
I was in the early stages of my webzine and radio show and a distributor from Canada sent me a batch of CD’s. One of them was the band SINNER from Germany. I heard OF them, but never really gave them a solid listen. Little did I know that “Judgement Day” was at the height of their career. It’s their 10th album and fifth in a row with the guitar tandem of Alex Beyrodt and Tom Naumann. Fritz Randow was on drums and Frank Rössler on bass rounded out the same lineup as they had on “Bottom Line” from 1995.
Mat Sinner had moved to a more Metal sound on “Bottom Line” and continued that with “Judgement Day”. I instantly loved the first cut “Used To Truth” (2nd track after the instrumental open). It’s a hard a heavy track that dances between Metal and Hard Rock, depending on your classifications for each genre.
“Troublemaker” was more straightforward right in the pocket and chorus that’ll stuck in your brain. It’s darker with a thick backbone of base and Fritz Randow’s punishing drums. “White Lightning” was faster again with some nice melodic guitar work from Beyrodt and Naumann. It might be one of my least favorites, but it would be one of the best songs on any other album.
The title track brought back some of the melancholy keyboard used on previous album, but mostly to establish an atmosphere. “Judgement Day” was an epic mid-tempo and powerful song with a runtime of almost 9 minutes. It really showed how far the band had come along over the years and their maturity.
“Jump The Gun” was one of the more modern songs SINNER has constructed, at least from the standpoint of production. They used some interesting effects on Mat’s voice, but at the end of the day it’s just a killer Metal tune.
“Streets Of Sin” was almost like “Judgement Day” part two. The band has seemed to replace sappy ballads with epic longer mid-tempo songs with a darker edge. Maybe there’s a slight Metallica influence here but they seem to be developing a new type of song that would continue on upcoming albums.
“Pray For Mercy” is another track that sounds like the guitars are tuned down for a deeper and darker effect. It might be one of the “heaviest” songs they have ever done. No, not the fastest or even loudest, but the heaviest. The production and the writing give the track a massive feel.
“Blue Tattoo” and “School Of Hard Knocks” are more throwback tracks to early SINNER material. “Blue Tattoo” really has a THIN LIZZY vibe with the tandem guitars and the “mean” badass storytelling by Mat Sinner. “School Of Hard Knocks” towards AC/DC perhaps, just a hard driving, in-the-pocket rock song. There’s a feel of “Streets Of Fire” in the track, but it’s more to the point.
“Deathwalker” should have been a single. It’s certainly more “radio-friendly” but it got a Judas Priest feel and a chorus that crushes. Mat Sinner mastered the craft of writing catchy choruses without sounding too cheesy. This is a fist-in-air great anthem.
The last track “The Fugitive” gets overlooked, mostly because it’s the last cut, but it’s a strong song and if on any other album it would be a more stand out track.
It’s ironic that this was the first SINNER album I heard because the bar was already set extremely high. This level was and had not been achieve on any other album. In all fairness to his future album, he did start PRIMAL fear after this album so he had a outlet for his taste for traditional Metal. This allowed Mat Sinner to keep the SINNER band more based in Hard Rock. In my opinion that’s the major reason SINNER would never reach the level of “Judgement Day”, but then again, most bands never have what they could call a “masterpiece”.
Mat Sinner – Vocals, Bass
Alex Beyrodt – Guitars
Tom Naumann – Guitars
Fritz Randow – Drums
Frank Rössler – Keyboards