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United State

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Album Review

Now five albums in, Syracuse, New York-based hard rock band Brand New Sin may not be brand-new anymore, but the group has matured and consolidated the stylistic innovations introduced on earlier discs with United State. The musicians quickly demonstrate an ability to come close to heavy metal on the raging opener, "The Lord Came Down," and in subsequent songs they bring out mammoth riffs built on lockstep drumming, the better to please headbangers everywhere. But even at the beginning, there's more going on here. Singer Kris Wiechmann has a gruff voice that cuts through the instruments to express anger ("I know you better than you know yourself," he claims in "Know Yourself"), sometimes self-directed ("I wallow in self-disdain," he confesses in "Infamous"). Meanwhile, the music becomes more varied and ambitious, with a country blues arrangement of acoustic guitar and slide given to "Rotten as Hell." It gradually becomes clear that these are musicians who know their way around the classic rock repertoire, especially including the Rolling Stones and the Who, and are able to suggest developments from such ancestors. By the time they conclude with a cover of the AC/DC Back in Black track "What Do You Do for Money Honey," their sense of rock history has been established. The obvious question is why a band this good that's on its fifth album isn't better known by now. There may be no figuring such a conundrum, but Brand New Sin's musical progress continues apace on United State, and it's past time that more people knew about it.


Formed: Syracuse, NY

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s

When rock fans think of Syracuse -- one of the cities in upstate New York -- they often think of hardcore punk and the straight-edge movement, which has used punk to promote clean living, vegetarianism, and spirituality. Many straight-edge bands have been avid supporters of the Hare Krishna sect; arguably, straight-edge has often functioned as a Hindu-minded equivalent of Christian rock, although many straight-edge bands have leaned to the left politically and have, in some cases, vehemently lambasted...
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United State, Brand New Sin
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