Review by: Todd Naevestad
Even outside of music, Dee Snider is a man I have a lot of respect for. Not even counting his years of history in metal, his educated, and rather scathing, testament before the Parent’s Music Resource Center senate hearing helped shape the music landscape in the 70s and 80s. He’s a kind of renaissance man in metal, starting in the Glam of Twisted Sister and carrying on to today by keeping that old school metal sound alive, while also acting, directing, writing, and more. And the fact that he’s the voice of Gol the sage in Jak & Daxter doesn’t hurt either. His newest album, For the Love of Metal, is the most recent entry in a decades long career. Does it still hold the magic that Snider has been known for?
At this point in his life, I don’t think Snider has to make music anymore. He can probably sit pretty on his reputation and what has come before. That’s what makes projects like this feel like a passion project. And as such, the whole album feels like Snider could do what he wanted with it. Songs are structured as they are because that’s what felt right, not because that was the most marketable or because a producer wanted it that way. It feels like a piece of Dee Snider coming through the speakers. The album as a whole has that 80’s feel to it. No matter the song that starts, it feels like a work out of time. While his goal may have been to create a contemporary metal album, the classic rock roots still hold firm.
Unsurprisingly, Snider’s voice is the center of this album. His displays a more grity stle here might come as a shock to those who still only think of “We’re Not Gonna Take It” when they think of Dee Snider. While it’s not knock-you-out-your-boots powerful, his voice is still crisp, with an edge to it. Supporting him is that classic guitar song that defined hair metal. Every song has some bit that invites you to air guitar along. The guitars are heavy and loud and fantastic. In addition, there are a number of cameos from other well-known metal names that add their own flair to the music. If you’re looking for an injection of unabashed Metal, the kind of music most people think of when they say metal, then you can’t go wrong here.
The reality of a project like this, however, is that it really is just what you expect. While there are some songs I really enjoy, there’s nothing that surprised me. If you handed me this album blind and said it’s from the hair metal days, I would have known exactly what to expect and I would have been right. Snider’s gruff voice is great, but it doesn’t change much. Even on the few slower songs he doesn’t go into the clean vocals. “Dead Hearts” is probably the biggest example of this, with Alissa White-Gluz from Arch Enemy leading the clean vocals, which she does amazingly by the way. It’s all technically sound, but safe. With the freedom allotted to him, I would have loved to see Snider go wild and try new things with the album. As a contemporary metal album it’s really good, but I think it lacks that fantastic creative spark that could have made it more.
At the end of the day, I love to see someone doing what they love. That is what this album is, a challenge and a work of passion. Snider has a career most of us would kill for, but it doesn’t seem like he’s satisfied resting on his couch. A blending of the new and the old, For the Love of Metal is a headbanging good time and one that I can appreciate on so many different levels. Take some time and enjoy it for what it is, and pray to the metal gods that Snider will be around for a little while longer to make more great music.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Recommendations: Fozzy, Grave Digger, Serenity