Release Date: 29th June 2018
Label: Rosary Lane
Genre: Hard Rock
What is there to say about Italian hard/shock rock outfit Sick N’ Beautiful? Billing themselves as “ultimate rock n’ roll circus from outer space”, the five-piece act have certainly carved out a particular image for themselves, one that sticks in your head. With a gallery of colourful cyber-characters in the band, fronted by the unabashedly sexual Herma, it’s hard, upon first glance, to dispute this claim. It seems this group have taken major influence by the imagery conjured up by the acid-riddled mind of metal’s favourite carnie Rob Zombie, something that proves a major pulling point for their music.
As their semi-decent 2015 debut Hell Over Hell proved, this neon-drenched aesthetic made its way quite snugly into the music, with a nice bluesy twist to go over the top of it all. However, as their popularity grown, so too has their ambition. With Element Of Sex, the band feed their image through an anime-inspired filter, and introduce a wealth of electronic *elements* to their sound – to its detriment, unfortunately.
On a positive note (just before I get to slatin’ this bastid), it’s clear that, on this album, we have a band that is in the process of developing their sound, working out the niggles, and forging a proper identity, which is always great to see. Regardless of my preference, this is something that a certain crowd get right down with, and I can definitely appreciate the factor of kitsch and camp that Sick N’ Beautiful are obviously portraying. Even musically, their songwriting isn’t particularly nothing — they, especially Herma, know how to drill a hook into your psyche, whether you like it or not.
ALL OF THAT BEING SAID, however, in my subjective opinion, as someone who ISN’T in that catchment, Sick N’ Beautiful‘s Element Of Sex is overly trashy, pop-metal – akin to the “alternative” entry in Eurovision. The electronic influences, while admittedly adding spice to the overall character of the record, mix horribly with the chunky guitar riffs (the album’s strongest facet), like adding turmeric to your ice cream sundae. Not helping is Herma’s vocal style, which, like a disappointing amount of band’s in the genre, doesn’t fit the heaviness in the instrumental. She’s got a good voice, for sure, but one so impeded by forced swagger and try-hard machismo, it loses all genuineness, and you just can’t connect to her as a vocalist, character or person.
Moreover, the so-called “Element of Sex” is kind of inconsistent. Outside of a couple of skimpy outfits, the album’s title track and a couple of “come/cum” puns — there’s not that much sex. Sure, this is going to sound mightily suspect from a 16 y/o boy, but if you’re gonna promote sex like these guys do, make sure you deliver.
Overall, with Element of Sex, Sick N’ Beautiful show the level of progression that any fan would hope to see in a sophomore release, as they further experiment with their sound and look. However, with this, they lose any kind of character in the music, unreflective of their cosmic get-ups, leaving us with an album teetering on the edge of stale.
Gooduns’: Fire True
For fans of: Rob Zombie, KISS