Sweden and heavy metal are not always synonymous with each other. If you ask the average person what’s the first thing that comes to mind when they hear Sweden, they probably won’t mention metal. Sister Sin set out back in 2002 to change all of that. They were determined to rule the world with their old school style of 80s influenced metal and nothing would stop them, especially preconceived notions and stereotypes.
The band’s first album Switchblade Serenades created a minor buzz here in the states, but it caught on in a major way in their homeland of Sweden. Their second album True Sound of the Underground saw the buzz grow here in the US as the band ventured out on the Hell Hath No Fury tour sponsored by Revolver that included other female fronted metal bands including In This Moment and Straight Line Stitch. The band later jumped onboard a tour with OTEP and One Eyed Doll that brought in many new fans.
I got to sit down with lead guitarist Jimmy Hiltula on the eve of the release of their anticipated third album with Victory Records Now and Forever to discuss their latest creation. “We’re very happy with how the album turned out. I think it’s kind of a different album in a way for us. I think it’s heavier and has a darker feeling to it than the others we have done. The songs are more diverse and more dynamic. We added different elements to them such as keyboard parts and even a piano. We wanted to create a different atmosphere on it and try to step out of our comfort zone.”
The album does have the feel that Jimmy mentioned, but it’s definitely plenty of what you would expect from the band. Such is the case with the first video released from the album entitled “End of Line”. “We chose that one because it had all the main ingredients of Sister Sin. The verses were pure Sister Sin, all the way. Then we threw in the thrashing guitar parts and the pounding drums. The tempo is fast and the chorus is melodic and dynamic, so the song was just a given for the first release.”
The album does have some surprises on it with a huge one being the band’s first ballad entitled “Morning After”. It’s a powerful song that will catch fans off guard as it begins with the delicate sound of a piano and Liv’s voice, with a string section also joining in. “We really wanted to do a ballad on this album, but we weren’t sure what to do. It’s not only our first ballad, but it’s actually a cover song too. We just kind of stumbled across the song on You Tube one day. It was originally done by Randy Piper’s Animal. We thought the melodies were really good and we felt that we could do something really special with it. I think Liv’s voice is very powerful in it and it really showcases her.”
The band has won fans over with their dynamic, high energy live show here in the US. Their first dates here in the states to support the new album will come in February of 2013 as they open for the iconic German rocker Doro. “We’re really excited to be hitting the road with her. We’ve done some previous things with her such as the cover of Motorhead’s “Rock N’ Roll”. We’ve also played a few times with her before, but this will be our first tour with her. She’s definitely one of our idols. The timing was perfect and it all just came together to be able to do the tour, so we can’t wait to hit the road with her.”
The touring cycle is a beast that’s tough to tame. The band travels from city to city in their home on wheels as they adapt to sleeping on a moving bed and being up all night and sleeping all day. Is touring the US any different than touring Sweden? “Well, the US packages that we have toured on seem to be really big. There are usually four or five national bands and maybe two local bands opening up. I would say that’s the biggest difference, unless it’s a big one day festival. The audiences are very similar, but the drives in the US from city to city can be very long. We sometimes have to travel thirty hours to the next show. The food is also a little different. When we first get to the US, we tend to eat a lot of burgers (laughs), but then we get tired of them. We love eating at Panera Bread and at Subway because we don’t have those in Sweden.”
It has to be a surreal kind of feeling to be a musician and go out on the road opening up for an artist who you have idolized or been influenced by such as Doro. It’s no secret that lead singer is a big fan of Doro as is the rest of the band, but Jimmy’s a guitar slinger. What influenced him to pick up that loaded six string years ago? “Metallica actually got me into playing the guitar. I didn’t necessarily think that Kirk (Hammett) and James (Hetfield) were guitar gods, but they did inspire me to learn to play. As far as my heroes go, first and foremost is Yngwie Malmsteen. I’d also have to say that Judas Priest is a big favorite of mine. Painkiller is one of my all-time favorite albums. You can’t get more metal than that! There are so many albums that influenced me too. The first WASP album, Motley Crue’s Shout at the Devil, the first Van Halen album, there are just too many to list here. The 80s was such a great period for metal.”
If you are a fan of 80s metal and haven’t checked out Sister Sin, then you don’t know what you are missing. The band’s influences run deep in the music of that era. The capture the feel and sound of the era and update it to make it sound current and not dated. Even if you are not a fan of 80s metal, Sister Sin has a lot to offer to rock any metal lovers speakers. Their new album is entitled Now and Forever and it is worthy of being cranked at least to 11, if not louder.