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Fast and full of quality from beginning to end, Fast Decision is a magical trip – no mushrooms needed – through melody, speed and good ol' heavy metal. I think Germany is one of the best countries for metal. If you want aggressive music, you have the excellent Teutonic trio formed by Kreator, Destruction and Sodom, plus some other great bands like Exumer. If you want speed and melody, you have Accept, Running Wild and Helloween. If you want great, old-styled traditional metal, you have Stormwitch, Scorpions, Warlock and early Accept. If technical stuff is what you are looking for, then you have Vendetta, Paradox and Deathrow – to name some of the many, many other excellent bands I could take the trouble naming, but it would be far too long.
Although Sinner may not be the name that pops up most often in the casual metal conversation – in fact, I do not think I have ever discussed this band with anybody -, it definitely has some kickass albums the traditional metal fan should know about. Fast Decision is one of them, and it is highly recommended for those who look for very melodic guitar work, great solos and classy traditional metal. If you are familiar with their later material like Danger Zone or Touch of Sin, you might be surprised with the lack of heaviness in Fast Decision. It is still way heavier than the début album, but it does not have such a harsh singing, or powerful drumming as their following works. However, what it lacks in heaviness, it makes up for with colourful, catchy melodies in the best Demon fashion.
Melody is, indeed, what defines this release; flashy solos everywhere, and a shower of leads and kickass choruses that will get you hooked from the first listening. This time Sinner comes with a new, fresh sound – it may sound odd to say this about an album released in 1983 – that can be best compared to Demon's Night of the Demon regarding style. Regarding sound, the guitar tone is very similar to Judas Priest's Point of Entry - just a bit fuzzier and thinner. However, the album overall reminds me more of the great Sin After Sin for some reason; maybe it is because of some remains of the 70s influence, or because some of the great rocking songs resemble it, but I cannot find a specific reason for this resemblance. Now, if you remember my review of the first album, you may remember me bashing Sinner because they sounded like bands A, B and C, so why is this something good now? Why the lack of criticism about this? The answer is that even though they still resemble some Saxon and Priest, this time they do not sound like a cheap recycling work of those bands; they sound like a German band that obviously took some elements from their NWOBHM heroes and made a third, original product that resembles them at times, but there is definitely a more personal style in their sound this time. Does it ring a bell? Stormwitch anyone?
And that is why this album sounds very different from the previous one, and it is musically speaking a huge step forward for the band.
For instance, the singing shows great improvement over the previous record; a very simple and serene style that fits the music to perfection, and most important of all, it doesn't sound like a Whitesnake imitation attempt or a Thin Lizzy tribute. In spite of the overall serenity in the singing, Matt still conveys some melody with his mid/high pitched tone, so it does not get dull, at all. In addition, lead guitars shine brighter than they ever dreamt of when they first released an album; with plenty of great leads and outstanding, colourful solos – if you have read some of my other reviews, you will have noticed this is something I appreciate a lot in traditional metal. The pace is also generally faster and that is something the listener will appreciate and notice. The first album transmitted this “when will it end” feeling more often than desired, while this one goes quite fast and has a single low point (“One last look”). The production, although not top-notch – the overall sound is a bit too fuzzy -, is definitely competent; a loud bass, quite present drums and a fantastic lead guitar tone. Rhythm guitars are the element that is hidden the most. Although this is a good thing in this case, because they do not have a leading role in the music.
Highlights are “Running wild”, “Fast decision” and “Prelude#7” + “Magic”. There are some other good tracks like “Chains” and “Crazy”, but these four definitely stand out among the others. “Running wild” starts the album with a fast paced, Priest-ish riff, and a very catchy chorus (“I'm running wild through lies to the light”); this song was obviously designed for fast driving with the windows down at full speed. In addition to all this rocking, we have some excellent solos that Judas Priest fans need to check (the first starts around 1:30 and the other one around 3:00). Regardless of the title, “Fast decision” is an excellent mid-paced track, with a rocking beat and very solid bass lines as support. I also like the chorus lines – they do not stand out for any special reason, they just get me – and the demonic shriek in the end “a fast decisioooooooooon” - that was definitely unexpected. Finally, “Magic” starts with a short intro called “Prelude #7”. The latter is not interesting on its own, but “Magic” has one of the catchiest main leads in existence; the kind of lead that gets stuck in your mind and sounds over and over, in the best 80s Scorpions fashion. Some may find this kind of song cheesy – I guess if you do not like the most commercial Scorpions, you will not like this either – but I think lead guitars and the vocal lines work great in contrast with some of the bass lines; for example, the instrumental section from 1:30 to 1:50 is simply exquisite. Moreover, although it may get a bit repetitive, the song is not that long (3:00) so it does not get very slushy or tiresome.
After all the praise, it is turn for the criticism. Not everything is sunshine, lollipops and rainbows after all. “One last look” is completely worthless; utterly boring, this one is an excruciatingly painful song to listen to; it cuts the rhythm of the album, and it is like an unexpected nightmare that comes to embitter an otherwise entertaining, enjoyable musical session. Not only is it slow, long (4:20) and pointless – it adds nothing to this album -, but it is rather uninteresting, both instrumentally and vocally. The chorus, for instance, is repeated so often that each time you will beg for it to really be the “one last cigarette”. Magic was a bit repetitive as well, but, at least, it had an entertaining chorus, great lead guitars and the pace was great.
On the whole Fast Decision is a formidable album, and one of the 80s traditional metal classics. Those who enjoy this one should also like Stormwitch's Walpurgis Night, Judas Priest's Sin After Sin and Demon's Night of the Demon.