Sister Shotgun – Fragments
Release Date: 19-04-2019
Running Time: 49:31
Review by Paul Monkhouse
They say the best things in life are worth waiting for and this is certainly true of “Fragments”, the full-length debut of these Midlands metallers. Having released a pair of EPs and a single since forming five years ago, their incendiary live shows and strong songwriting has brought them ever growing acclaim, leading to the band recently signing to American record label Pavement Entertainment. Having worked with famed record producer Romesh Dodangoda (Bullet For My Valentine, Bring Me The Horizon, Motörhead et al) previously on the ‘No Hope’ single he was the obvious choice by both band and record company and so it proves it be here, as the relationship works brilliantly with a bright, modern sound given to great material.
Lead single ‘Sacred Heart’ kicks off the album with some brutal riffing and singer Chloe Ozwell’s compelling voice giving the track that mix of heaviness and commercial edge that many strive to have but seldom as successfully as this. The song dips and weaves as guitarist Niall Wills provides growling vocals leading to a soaring chorus where the band just seem to take flight. This upbeat feel fits perfectly with the songs theme of coming through the dark into a better place and nothing puts it better than the brilliant and striking lyric “The dirt under my fingernails, is the sign of someone who prevails, when I had to dig my way out of my grave”. The punch of the guitars is hefty as Wills and Benji Tatlock shred as if their lives depended on it and it all provides a breathless start to the release.
The following tracks ‘She Lives’ and ‘From the Ashes’ show once again that ability to write an instantly accessible tune, with the latter featuring some truly grinding guitar and both benefitting from Ozwell’s voice that is reminiscent of some of the best American rock singers whilst not falling into the trap of trying to sound Trans-Atlantic. Hers is a voice that is versatile and she can go from a “don’t mess with me” Amazonian warrior to the tenderest and most fragile of tone in a heartbeat. There is so much feeling and power in her voice and Dodangoda captures this perfectly. This is a whole band effort though and the dual guitars of Wills and Tatlock can similarly gently caress between the brutal riffing and the rhythm section of Tim Chambers on bass and Dave Harvey on drums are absolutely rock solid, adding their own flair and groove to the material.
All this is perfectly illustrated in title track ‘Fragments’, one of the many highlights of the album. Gentle, rippling guitar accompany sweet vocals in the verses which transforms into a gutsy and emotive chorus, double bass drums underpinning everything. The songwriting and production are second to none and this demands to be played loud. It’s also certainly recommended to listen to the tracks in headphones so you can pick up every little nuance and fully appreciate the work that has gone into it all. There are many fine moments, such as Ozwell’s scream in ‘Miss Fortune’, that really need to be heard up close and personal for the full effect.
Next track ‘For the Love of Hate’ has long been a fan favourite, partly due to the brilliant promo video that features a previous line-up and is without one of the very best things the band has written so far. In this new, re-recorded version it is stripped of the delicate piano but lacks none of the passion and the production really brings out layers only touched on by the original. Following that the band switch to a different form of drama with the old school thrash of ‘Kill The Lights’ which is a maelstrom of frenetic bass and drums that propels this driving track. Again, the production on this brings a modern, visceral sheen to this song that threatens to tear the listener limb from limb. It does have its own sense of melody too though with another anthemic chorus and the huge sense of dynamics in the track add to the heaviness. At times you feel that Ozwell could have ripped into the vocals a little more but then the danger is that this may have seemed somewhat contrived and forced.
Another previous single makes it onto the album in the shape of ‘Silhouettes’ and it’s obvious why it was highlighted as it shows the knack the band has of writing beautifully structured songs. With the great chorus it adds to the canon of instantly memorable tunes on an album that is all killer, no filler. ‘Mourning Iris’ and ‘Scorn’ bring a heady brew together with their blend of passion and yearning on the former and the defiance of the latter. Both burst out of the speakers and highlight how this album should immediately elevate Sister Shotgun into the same league as their old friends Stone Broken, a band they played with many times in both bands’ early years.
Album closer ‘No Hope’ rampages along over a fiery riff and is the perfect way to end the thrill ride of this debut, making you want to play it all again from the start. Debut albums are notoriously hard to follow, packed as they usually are with songs that have been honed over the previous few years so it will be interesting to see what Sister Shotgun do next. That’s all in the future though, so in the meantime just plug in, sit back and let ‘Fragments’ blow you away.
01. Sacred Heart
02. She Lives
03. From Ashes
05. Miss Fortune
06. For The Love Of Hate
07. Kill The Lights
09. Mourning Iris
11. No Hope (Bonus Track)
Tweets by SisterShotgunUK
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