Shock to the System

This is hardly any kind of hot take, but I’m a friggin’ sucker for heavy metal with big, booming, powerful voices. The kind of voices that can slam you to the floor, take your lunch money and probably smear some dog poop or something in your face. A real dick move, but that voice owns you now. It’s over.

Thing is, true generational vocal talent is always gonna be a rarer find than a guitar virtuoso or drum wizard or master bassist. Sure, you can absolutely train and practice to become a better vocalist, but at some point you reach a certain physical limit, right? I guess that’s part of why the Dio’s and Bruce Dickinson’s and Brittany Hayes’ of the world will always stick with me more than the Tosin Abasi’s or Tomas Haake’s of the world. No disrespect at all to those amazing musicians, but FUCK, there’s just something about a world-crushing voice.

To that end, we need to talk about NYC’s Tower, and the gigantic voice of singer Sarabeth Linden. The woman is a juggernaut.   A raspy, booming Mack truck of a vocalist holding nothing back on her way to taking over your ear drums. I’m not 100% sure the album title Shock to the System isn’t in reference to her performance.

Now, I will say this isn’t necessarily the technical vocal masterclass found from the likes of the previously mentioned Brittney Hayes (Unleash the Archers) or Hansi Kürsch (Blind Guardian) – Linden’s performance relies much more on sheer, raw power – think Janis Joplin or Tina Turner backed by Black Sabbath or early Iron Maiden. If that sounds friggin’ killer to you – I assure you it is, my friends.

I mention those two bands specifically, as I think they pretty well represent the general range of influences you find from the rest of the band, though there’s definitely a healthy mix of classic sounds to be found here. Maiden definitely takes center stage on tracks like “Lay Down the Law” and “On The Line,” the latter featuring that trademark Dave Murray-inspired galloping every self-respecting metalhead knows and loves.  And while that NWOBHM vibe permeates a majority of the tracks, I mentioned Black Sabbath because the band can definitely get down into that old school doom vibe as well. Look no further than second track “Prince of Darkness” for a prime example of excellent Tony Iommi worship from guitarists Zak Penley and James Danzo.

The band certainly doesn’t shy away from some of it’s more glam/hard rock influences. It’s not an overwhelming part of the band’s flavor but definitely adds to that old overall old school, badass New Yorker vibe. A little bit of Kiss, a smattering of Guns ‘n’ Roses, a dabble of Twisted Sister for good measure. It all adds up to a genuinely good time.  “Hired Gun” just seethes with that shit-grinning Rock and Roll attitude that makes you wanna put a toothpick in your mouth and mean mug at passers-by. But at the end of the day, it’s Sarabeth Linden at center stage commanding your attention, and she’s certainly up to the task of keeping your focus over the album’s 10 tracks. Between her hypnotic use of vibrato, and the more forceful vocal fry laced with piss and attitude, she’s an absolute tour de force that deserves your time.

There’s a whole lot to love here for a lot of different kinds of rockers and metalheads. Of course, it should come as no surprise that Cruz del Sur has knocked it out of the park, once again proving no one has their thumb on the pulse of a thriving New Wave of Traditional Heavy Metal scene more than them. Shock to the System is a spirited, superb performance led by a voice that should take the metal world by storm. Don’t miss out on this.



[Visit the band's website]
Written by Steve K
November 19th, 2021


  1. Commented by: dearoldblighty

    Wow! I have to say, I was giving the Tina Turner/Janis Joplin comp a bit of side-eye, but that really is a gloriously raspy hurricane of a voice.

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