Snider wants to rock as much as he did in 1983.
No matter that his career spans more than 40 years, there’s a paucity of recordings featuring Dee Snider’s inimitable vocal style. Pity too, given that he resides in the pantheon of great metal voices beside Rob Halford and Bruce Dickinson. Snider, now in his early 60s, has said that his days fronting Twisted Sister are over. The demands of that gig, he’s acknowledged, are especially taxing; the death of TS drum A.J. Pero in 2015 drove home the point that no one in the quintet’s camp was immune to the cruelty of time. Similarly, Snider admits that it ain’t all over. He wants to rock as much as he did in 1983.
Enter Hatebreed frontman and tireless hustler Jamey Jasta. Jasta pitched Snider a simple idea: make a contemporary metal album, one that moved the veteran metal god outside the glitter rock stylings for which he was primarily known. The result? For the Love of Metal, a full-tilt, all-killer, no-filler affair that acknowledges Snider’s singing prowess and sustained hunger. It also spotlight’s Jasta’s gifts as a writer. (Snider, the main tunesmith in Twisted authored not one note on this effort.) Remember: Twisted Sister was infinitely heavier on stage and on its earliest recordings than given credit for by the mainstream. (Lemmy an early champion for the TS cause.) Snider is stretching himself in some ways here but he’s not entirely out of his element. Since he’s always been a fan of metal, he’s remained aware of the changes rather than becoming a victim of them.
Jasta, for his part, has done his homework and doesn’t given Snider anything to sing that strays from the elder singer’s wheelhouse. Joined by an all-star cast that includes Lamb of God’s Mark Morton, Arch Enemy’s Alissa White-Gluz plus Nick (Toxic Holocaust) and Charlie (Kingdom of Sorrow) Bellmore as well as Killswitch Engage’s Howard Jones, Snider’s intensity never flags across these 12 tunes. The opening “Lies Are a Business” gallops with an intensity normally reserved for vintage Bay Area thrash. It sounds like something that could have appeared on Exodus’ Bonded by Blood or even Metallica’s Ride the Lightning. Moreover, they remind us how omnipresent those equestrian inspired San Fran riffs of yesteryear have become.
Snider isn’t a one-trick frontman though and by the second track, “Tomorrow’s No Concern,” traces of metal’s post-grunge years begin to creep in. One can imagine fans of both classic metal and the likes of Godsmack going back for second helpings of this stuff. Muted riffs, blasting drum beats and the wild maned man’s unmistakable growl make each moment crackle with excitement. Lyrically, Jasta draws from the genre’s secret Power of Positive Thinking manual, filling the songs with references to belief in one’s self and our ability to make our dreams become flesh if only we believe hard enough.
It could seem trite in the hand of a less convincing performer but Snider, like most of the great metal front men, knows that he’s not just singing lyrics, he’s delivering words that his listeners have to believe he believes as well. He’s vocalist, actor and salesman and he carries out each duty with aplomb. He attacks “Roll Over You” and “Running Mazes” as though he’s proving himself for the first time. It’s as though none of those previous records or accolades matter, as though this is some sweaty Long Island club on a hot night in the summer of ’78 and Dee Snider is just another kid from Queens with a loud mouth and big dreams.
There’ more at work than blunt force, though. Jasta knows that his muse’s greatest talent rests in his ability to deliver a meaty hook. Thus, “Before the Storm” is created with lines meant to be howled on festival and arena stages. It’s the kind of song perfect for pitting stage left against stage right against each other in a call-and-response that ends with the vocalist turning over the mic to the full room. (Or field as the case may be.) Moreover, this isn’t just your dad’s (or, let’s face it, grandad’s) metal. The kids buying Iron Maiden and KISS patches will get as much out of this as those who never knew a world before thrash, black or death metal. This is a feat for both Jasta and Snider for sure. That the Hatebreed leader had the guts to pitch the idea is admirable. That he had the ability to see it through is as well. That Snider bought in and performs as though his life depends on it isn’t just a testament to his talents. It’s a testament to indefatigable spirit and commitment to the cause of heavy rock.