01.13 On CD: Saul Conrad and Sister Sin

Saul Conrad’s Poison Packets: On Being Human

By Benjamin McNeil

A track-by-track knitting of folk Americana and country, a vibrant marriage of lyrical prowess and soothing melodies; Saul Conrad’s Poison Packets encourages a fresh appreciation of down-to-earth music.

Poison Packets, the 24-year-old Bostonian’s first album, was co-released by Cavity Search Records and Mountain of Leopards Records, two labels that aren’t oblivious to the singer-songwriter’s intense passion for music as art.

“Saul has a very natural ability to connect to his audience emotionally. His lyrics are relatable while still being inventive,” said Rachel Lament, Conrad’s publicist.

Conrad, throughout the album, centralizes the heart ~ love and love lost, lust, yearning. He employs rich imagery and naked honesty. “Bonfire Blues,” the first of Poison Packet’s 10 tracks, opens: “Me and my baby / We had a bonfire / We were just lying down / Belching smoke and blowing fire / Her legs are closed to me / Guarding something I admire.”
Conrad draws comparisons to Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan; his acoustic guitar soulful, his lyrics crafted with precision, dancing from track to track, telling the truths that bond all listeners.

But Conrad never forces his songs’ meanings, saying, “I hope I made something that is in a sense halfway finished … an order, a system of structured but empty capsules that the listener can creatively fill in and interpret and make whole with the stuff of their lives and feelings….” Surely, a multitude of meanings can be derived from tracks like “Whiskey Eggs” and “The Engines,” each track open to philosophical dissection, as Conrad intended.

“I was hoping to write a psychologically personal and honest, open account of situations in my life and feelings ~ some beautiful and really wonderful, some more along the lines of things that have been haunting me and plaguing me for much of my life,” Conrad explains. Poison Packets truly captures the essence of life, of emotion, of being human.

Sister Sin’s Now and Forever: Bring on the Apocalypse

By Benjamin McNeil

Since 2002, Sister Sin has asserted itself as the modern-day master of “old-school” metal; Now and Forever, the female-fronted band’s fourth album, continues its reign of head-banging dominance. Sister Sin, founded in Gothenburg, Sweden, features Jimmy Hiltula on guitar, Dave Sunderberg on drums, Strandh as bassist, and Liv Jagrell, the vocalist of whom Sunderberg remarked, “It turned out she could sing better and had more balls than any of the other guys who tried out for the gig.”

Sister Sin, signed by the independent label Victory Records, released Now and Forever worldwide Oct. 23 and, barring an apocalypse, will tour throughout North America from January to March. But these Swedes are no strangers to bright lights; they’ve played with Motorhead, OTEP and Alice Cooper, among others.

Now and Forever reasserts Sister Sin’s jagged edge, the marriage between hard and heavy guitar riffs and Jagrell’s no-nonsense deliverance of lyrics, along with an onslaught of head-banging drums. “MMXII,” track one, is a 1-minute instrumental, pregnant with suspense, which builds to the intense battle waged throughout the album. “End of the Line” encapsulates the raw emotion fostered by this immensely talented group, as Jagrell yells: “I am the plague incoming / End of the line, I see the world uncoming / Vanished in the blink of an eye….” This track belongs in Terminator, or another action film.

Society might crumble, starring death, danger and destruction, but Jagrel welcomes it. Sister Sin’s Now and Forever beckons all challengers; you can’t resist this well-oiled, heavy metal machine.