You know how Kurt Cobain killed Hair Metal? Apparently he didn’t manage to finish the job. It’s taken a couple of decades, but the recent surge of sleaze shows that the blow delivered by Kurt’s Fender Jaguar wasn’t, in fact, fatal. It’s weird that in the twenty-teens we have acts like Reckless Love and Crashdïet touring internationally and charting highly in their home countries. Weird in a good way that is, because they rock. And so we come to Italian hair hopefuls Midnight Sin and their debut album Sex First. Judging by the name and the band photo they’ve certainly got the moves. But we must remember the teachings of Saint Shania and ask a further question: do they also got the touch?
The record starts out well, “Midnight Revolution” kicking you into the mood with its high energy and simple, catchy riffs. This is ably followed by “Feed Me With Lies”, which sounds vaguely like Bon Jovi dabbling with Empire-era Queensrÿche. “No Matter” drops the energy a bit but is still entertaining with its Mötley Crüe-esque verse riff. There’s zero originality but it’s fun nonetheless, especially if you’ve had a few and you’re in the mood to partay.
The overall musicianship is decent but occasionally lets the band down. It’s clear from the outset that vocalist Albert Fish doesn’t possess the best set of pipes to have graced a rock record, but they do the job and he’s certainly enthusiastic. Guitarist LeStar provides some flashy leads, but during a couple of moments the rhythm guitar and drums are just a bit off, which sucks all the momentum out of the music. For example, the drums lag a bit during the solo-vocal-over-drums-part towards the end of “’Till It’s All Gone Away” (they also lack reverb for what should be a rousing sing-along section), which completely destroys the groove.
The main problem with the album though, is its irritating inconsistency. Solid sleaze such as “Feed Me with Lies” and “Rise and Yell” are offset by sub-Poison dross like “’Till It’s All Gone Away” and third-rate ballads “You Piss Me Off”, “Code: 69” and “Sweet Pain”. That’s right – three shitty ballads in a 39-minute record. Hair metal has never been a good genre to explore one’s more sensitive side – unless you’re Def Leppard obviously – so why Midnight Sin felt the need to do so even once, let alone several times, is baffling. “You Piss Me Off” would be passable for drunken karaoke tomfoolery if it didn’t drag on for five minutes, but “Code: 69” is just embarrassing, presumably written while they were still at school. Finally “Sweet Pain” aims for the epic by exchanging guitars and drums for piano and strings. This was a horrible mistake.
Sex First was never going to set the world on fire, but it’s disappointing that after the solid opening the band couldn’t keep up the quality for the whole album. This might have flown in the 80s when most of the hair posse were too coked up to write more than a few good tunes a year (and no one was really paying attention to the music anyway), but when your contemporaries are creating cracking albums like Spirit and Generation Wild, you can’t expect to get away with writing things like “Code: 69.” Seriously guys. That don’t impress me much.