Dee Snider – Leave a Scar (Album Review)

Dee Snider – Leave A Scar
Released: July 30, 2021

Line Up:

Dee Snider // vocals
Nick Bellmore // drums
Charlie Bellmore // guitar
Russell Pzutto // bass
Nick Petrino // guitar 

Online:

Facebook
Twitter
Instagram
Official Website

After 40 years fronting one of the great American hard rock bands, Twisted Sister, it had appeared Dee Snider’s career might take a different turn. His 2012 solo album consisted of Broadway covers, while 2016’s We Are the Ones was highlighted by an acoustic version of ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It’ and a rock version of Nine Inch Nails‘Head Like A Hole. Neither made a huge impact so Hatebreed’s Jamey Jasta reached out to Dee asking him to put out a HARD record that metalheads would dig. The result was the Jasta written and produced For the Love of Metal (2018) – a barnstorming collection of tracks that capitalised on Dee’s vocals with HARD riffs and anthemic choruses that was well received by metalheads (including our own Gareth who had it among his top albums of 2018). Personally I loved it, hearing Snider belt out ‘Become the Storm’ or singing alongside  Howard Jones and Alissa White-Gluz reinvigorated my love for Dee and the Twisted Sister back catalogue. So his new album, Leave a Scar, comes with a bit of pressure – can the Jasta/Snider combination deliver again? 

The first single ‘I Gotta Rock (Again)’ starts things off with a fire cracking anthem, evoking Twisted Sister’s ‘I Wanna Rock’. Through the difference in title, Snider announces his intent and very reason for being – post-lockdown he has a lot to say and he’s going to say it. He has said about the album that he  “knew [he]  not only had to get back into the studio, but for the first time since the ’90s, … [he] needed – to be a part of the writing process. Leave a Scar is filled with messages to and for the silent voices in the world who need someone to speak out on their behalf.” That sentiment is captured from the opening with the lyrics revealing music is his outlet: “while my mind is still screaming, I can’t stop” The song itself is a great rocker with a fast tempo and classic metal riff and a couple of fun solos that lead to a his proclamation that “you will never ever feel the same, until we rock again.” It is the exact sentiment that we need right now as more gigs and festivals are postponed and is delivered with Snider’s trademark gusto. 

‘All or Nothing More’ is a stand out – it’s a serious thrash song with more inspirational lyrics. One of the musical similarities between Snider and Jasta’s more famous bands is the use of gang vocals, and this song delivers it in spades. It’s a tough song with roaring backing vocals contrasting with Dee’s soaring clean delivery. ‘Down but Never Out’ continues in a similar vein, emphasising that he’s picked up on Hatebreed’s inspiration-focused lyricism and as the originator of the ‘We’ve Not Gonna Take It’ attitude, he still has a lot of fight left in him, even at 66 years old he’s not ready to go quietly into retirement when he sees injustice or people feeling down. ‘Before I Go’ sees him grapple with this mortality and reflect on his struggles and triumphs to share what he’s learned: “your fate depends on those you save.” Great to hear a metal singer preaching positivity, not only for the individual but to help others. The chorus is seriously catchy too and saves the song from getting morbid. 

Whilst there is a sameness to many of the tracks, he’s clearly found a comfortable lane to spread his word, there are a few that rate repeat listens. ‘Silent Battles’ almost goes to a power metal level that would be awesome for Snider to explore further in the future. It’s a tad slower with a less intricate riff. It is a really empathetic song though, trying to explore how people have to fight for their lot in life when born into disadvantage. It speaks to the person that Snider is, even with his own success he’s conscious of the fact others haven’t been so fortunate and he’s there for them. As the pandemic rages on, Snider is trying to find the truth and help others to find their own authenticity. ‘Crying for your Life’ is different too, with a slower intro that really gives the vocals room to soar. When the band kicks in, it sounds a lot like the classic metal of our youth with a series of cracking riffs.  

Then there’s ‘Time to Choose’. Snider had teased a unique guest vocalist and delivered one in Cannibal Corpse frontman George ‘Corpsegrinder Fisher. The song is so heavy that the addition of Fisher’s trademark growl doesn’t sink the song, and actually ensures Snider’s clean vocals are prominent. It’s another thrasher, almost melodic death metal, as Snider’s gives it some grunt too and Charlie Bellmore lets rip on the solos. It’s going to be a killer song live too, you feel it in your bones. It appears to be a reflection on the 2020 American election and the verse lyrics have some great metaphors that would be cheesy if not delivered with such conviction. That ‘Time to Choose’ is surrounded by the punch ‘In for the Kill’ and the headbanging tribute to his wife ‘S.H.E.’, gives it some gravitas late in the album. ‘S.H.E’ is probably the most 80s moment here, so Twisted fans might want to start with that one, it is actually a pretty romantic song. 

Snider closes the album with ‘The Reckoning’ and the ballad ‘Stand’, two contrasting sounds. ‘The Reckoning’ is ultimately the fastest track here, a rager that could easily open or close gigs. The chorus is immense, I’ve been humming it since I heard it, and Nick Bellmore just hammers the drums for the whole time. It’s epic with a couple of different solo passages for the guitarists to get their skills in, and Dee has some menace in his voice that is a great demonstration of his metal prowess. It is actually a bit chilling, he makes it clear he isn’t one to mess with. ‘Stand’ on the other hand is a power ballad, but I’m talking more like Metallica than Bon Jovi. His vocals sound great as he encourages listeners to “stand for something… don’t leave your mark, leave a scar.” He’s got plenty of fight in him and wants you to know you do too. It really hits the spot, a culmination of the attitude he has cultivated on prior tracks and his steely determination to make the world a better place.   

If Leave a Scar doesn’t leave you wanting to improve yourself, your situation and the world we live in then I fear nothing will. Backed by an awesome band and Jasta handling production, Dee Snider delivers an album of anthems (again) that reflect the pandemic we are living through. He doesn’t want us to just survive but hopes to inspire us to thrive again. Whilst a lot of the album has similar sounding songs, it is a high quality offering of serious heavy metal. It rises to the mark set by For the Love of Metal and surpasses it at times. Can’t wait to see Dee on tour and hopefully even a third Snider/Jasta collaboration. 

Dee Snider – Leave a Scar tracklisting:

1. I Gotta Rock (Again)
2. All Or Nothing More
3. Down But Never Out
4. Before I Go
5. Open Season
6. Silent Battles
7. Crying For Your Life
8. In For The Kill
9. Time To Choose
10. S.H.E.
11. The Reckoning
12. Stand

Rating: 8/10
Leave a Scar is out now on Napalm Records. Purchase here
Review By – KJ Draven. Instagram: @kjdraven

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