We Are the Ones
Red River Records
One of the most recognizable poster boys of the 1980s metal scene, Dee Snider wrote and recorded some of the era’s best-known anthems. But from his platinum-selling tenure with the New York based rock act, Twisted Sister, to his array of subsequent side projects, he’s proven to be an artist who paints with a very broad brush. And in 2016, Snider has teamed up with award-winning producer, Damon Ranger, to create We Are the Ones – his first solo rock record in more than a decade. And in the process, he’s unleashed one of the year’s strongest AOR contenders.
Contrary to impassioned press release promises, Snider has not reinvented himself with his latest effort. In fact, the 61-year-old rock vet plays it pretty safe (which is probably a good thing) – offering just enough fresh-factor to sound reasonably current and not embarrass himself, while oozing the signature-style, fist-pumping, guitar-driven energy that his faithful flock still craves.
Boasting appealing production sheen, “We Are the Ones,” “Over Again,” and “Crazy for Nothing” all are straight-up, mid ’00s-sounding, radio-worthy tracks and represent a few of the record’s many highlights. Conversely, “Rule the World” serves as the record’s square peg. With its over-calculated “modern” electronic effects pasted to a backdrop of trite “us against them” verses and a stiff “Whoa-whoa” hook, this one might (musically) be a more comfortable stylistic fit on a contemporary Praise and Worship record. And while the stripped-down piano / vocal re-make of the 1984 Twisted Sister hit, “We’re Not Gonna Take It” is momentarily engaging, Snider’s remake of the 1990 Nine Inch Nails classic, “Head Like a Hole,” packs arguably more punch and personality than the original. But for my money, the record’s most precious gemstone is the moody, predominately slower tempo, and slightly out-of-the-box, “Close to You.”
Despite being a longtime admirer of Snider’s work, based on pre-release over-hype, I expected this record actually to be dreadful. However, I was surprised – pleasantly surprised. In short, with We Are the Ones, Dee Snider has delivered – in spades!