BITCHES SIN – ‘The Rapture’ (Independent)
The one sure thing about Bitches Sin is the band’s uncanny ability of bouncing back whenever misfortune raises its head. Their first album of new material since 1986, 2008’s ‘UDUVUDU’, was a great collection of songs in its own right but to much bewilderment it performed disappointingly commercially. As it was wholly self-financed the easy options would have been to either walk away and work the nine-to-five forever, or at least go back and try to recreate the NWOBHM sound from which the band emerged as a nostalgia act and pretend the last thirty years never happened. Instead, they’ve come out fighting and topped ‘…VUDU’ with ‘The Rapture’, a stunning album forged in twenty-first century metal but which still pays homage to its traditional British roots.
What’s different this time around is the recruitment of singer/guitarist David Mills and bassist Dan Mcnamee. Mills, who almost joined back in 2006 but decided it would clash with other commitments at that time, comes from a rock more than metal background, and has brought with him a depth to the songs which the band might previously have missed. On bass, Macca, being a little younger than his bandmates, sees things more in terms of the bands like Metallica that influenced him and so nudges things down the heavier side of things. Add these two players to the long-time core of founder member and lead guitarist extraordinaire Ian Toomey and powerhouse drummer Steve ‘Stixslayer’ Turton, let “the best producer in the universe” Chris Tsangarides weave his magic and add some guitar here and there, and the result is one hell of a cocktail. Arrogant, aggressive and atmospheric, ‘The Rapture’ is more than an album: it’s a statement of intent.
Highlights come thick and fast on what is probably the band’s most easily accessible album to date. From the spirited opener ‘Don’t Let Go’ to the plaintive laid-back acoustics of closer ‘No Regrets’ the album showcases the respective talents of the musicians – Toomey’s vastly under-rated guitar heroics, the strength and sublimity of Mills’ voice and the rock-solid rhythm section of Macca and Stixslayer (not to mention Turton’s adroitness as an acoustic guitarist). My personal favourite would have to be ‘Never Forget’, an evocative ‘Kashmir’-ish composition which tells its story over a glorious and exciting six minutes (whether it’ll go into the band’s live set I don’t know, but it would be staggering to hear it live), closely followed by the frenetic work-outs ‘You Want Paradise’ and ‘Old School’: both of which allow Toomey to flex his plex and Turton to thrash his kit, and both of which will have you leaping around the room like a loon. Trust me on this.
The other difference this time around is that the album truly goes up to eleven; Bitches Sin normally say all they want to say in ten tracks, but this time around an additional song appears in the form of a re-recording of ‘Sounds Of Silence’. Originally sung by previous vocalist Tony Tomkinson when it was issued as a single in 2009, the Paul Simon classic has been re-worked once more and Mills rightly makes it his own with a superb vocal performance.
Tsangarides’ production is on the nail as ever, and the artwork (an unkindness of ravens – are they predicting or precipitating The Rapture?) incidentally comes courtesy of one Jon Hoare from Bristol goth metallers Mercury Rain. To misquote Shakespeare, some bands are born great, some become great, and some have greatness thrust upon them. All three apply to Bitches Sin, and ‘The Rapture’ is the proof.
© John Tucker September 2011