Album review: Sideburn – Evil or Divine

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Sideburn are a four-piece hard rock band from Sweden who have been around since 1997 in various incarnations, which I guess makes them qualify in some circles for the dreaded term ‘veterans’. Regardless, their latest release certainly doesn’t sound like a bunch of old guys going through the motions; it sounds pretty bloody incredible and makes me wish I’d heard of these guys sooner.


1. Masters and Slaves
2. Sea of Sins
3. When Darkness Calls
4. The Seer (Angel of Death)
5. The Day The Sun Died
6. Evil Ways
7. Presence

Being a drummer I was immediately won over by that killer album-opening drum fill, before I even got to the devastating riff from “Master and slaves” that followed it, but after initially rushing to write a review consisting of the words ‘THIS IS AWESOME’ I decided to sit with the album for a couple of days, take some notes, and, at least, remember to pretend I was professional.

Evil Or Divine was produced by Jonas Elder along with the band at B.A.S. Studio and mastered by Mats ‘Limpan’ Lindfors at Stockholm’s Cutting Room Studios. Overall, the seven tracks wear their various influences proudly without ever becoming generic, predictable or tiresome; this is a definite nod to the past whilst the band forges its own way ahead. Amidst the gloriously organic treatment Dimitri Keiski‘s vocals and range are killer throughout, constantly elevating and pushing each track in more interesting directions. The guitar playing is excellent with Keiski and Morgan Zocek sharing axe-duties…both working together to create intense slabs of sound and left-turn breakdowns mixed with some incredible soloing (melodic, intricate and creative), whilst the impeccable rhythm section of Martin Karlsson and Fredrik Haake provides truly mind-blowing support throughout.

The musicianship is never in question, but what really strikes me is the restraint and subtle inventiveness. So many times during the course of the album the band allows sections to breathe without unnecessary showiness or takes chances with an abrupt tempo-change and the music is far better for it. Throughout all this IS an awesome album. With song titles and lyrics that are gloriously Dio-esque in their apocalyptic probing and posturing, whilst sonically and musically it’s full of guts, attitude and, above all, a groove that most bands would kill for. Wrap that all up in a wicked cover showing The Statue of the Fallen Angel by Ricardo Bellver and you surely have one of the best albums of the last year.

Repeat listens at high volume are recommended.


Morgan Zocek – Guitar, Background vocals
Dimitri Keiski – Lead vocals, Guitar
Martin Karlsson – Bass, Organ, Background vocals
Fredrik Haake – Drums, Percussion


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