Italian Rockers Midnight Sin came together as a five-piece back in December of 2010. As far as what to expect, well, the band name sums it up accurately. This act stems from the gritty streets of the eighties, when Hair Metal, Glam, and sleazy Hard Rock ruled the roost, a presence that can be felt in their 2014 debut full-length album Sex First. With the band signed to Bakerteam Records, the sister label of Scarlet Records with a very strong reputation of solid releases, is this a refreshing dip in the roots of the style, or is it an absolute wreck from start to finish?

The introductory "Snake Eyes" sets up this thick slab of Rock debauchery fairly well by playing up that old time gambling and prostitution days before giving way to war effects and distorted alien vocals that are completely out of place and immediately push you way. Thankfully the edgier Heavy Metal influenced "Midnight Revolution" pulls the listener right back in with tight hooks, restrained clean singing, and solid drum patterns that perfectly accentuate the harder main verses, tribal sounding bridges, and fill up the melodic chorus driven by a dominant bass presence that is as addicting as it is memorable. Sadly, this is the only song to really have that heavier sound, which is a shame as the rest of the album starts to point out the audio's many flaws the lighter it gets.

"Feed Me With Lies" is a catchy track stolen straight from the days of back alley Glam Rock and Hair Metal. Slightly edgy hooks that have a good deal of emotion that is amplified by the chorus with tighter melodies and layered clean singing that gains a lot more enthusiasm, not to mention a well done guitar solo. The problem is that the crashes from the drum kit either don't sound right or have some wash out on them, though the rest of the kit sounds fairly solid, and the vocals show off some studio effects in the weaker spots including poor layering and a terrible effect that makes them come off a bit like being recorded within a rusty metal bucket. Thankfully this track has a fair amount of activity that masks most of these faults much of the time, as does "Rise & Yell." The vocal effect does come through from time to time, like before the guitar solo about three minutes in, but there's a good deal of energy here as well that helps to distract, not to mention a high pitch singing approach that can remind listeners of AC/DC or U.D.O..

The power ballad "You Piss Me Off" highlights that issue with the vocals precisely in the Poison-heavy approach that weaves an interesting cowboy attitude to the misogynistic lyrics. The same goes for "Code: 69" in practically every possible way. The only differences are the times the music can sound more like Modern Rock, and the layering is suiting when utilized. The echoes also help accentuate the already enthusiastic presence, especially when the electric guitars come into play around a minute and a half in. "Sweet Pain" is the better of the ballads though, showing off the actual vocal skills of Albert Fish a lot better thanks to the lack of effects and intimate setting the piano perfectly plays up. And then there's "No Matter", which is your standard Rock anthem with simple chords and hushed vocals to the main verses that later rely on additional synths to fill the hollow background outside of the much louder chorus that seems to have a bit of a Punk Rock vibe to it. While a by the book example, it's still pretty catchy all around. Even at its weakest you'll find your head bobbing along.

While the final audio quality of Sex First does suffer from the typical modern day output of eighties Rock performances captured in a digital studio, this is a fairly enjoyable release all around. Midnight Sin establish the evolution of edgier, grittier music from that time period quite well, though the most memorable of all the cuts definitely ends up "Midnight Revolution". There's no denying the band has the ability to pull together that early Hard Rock meets Heavy Metal vibe flawlessly, and it's a downright shame this is the only track to really go that far. With the rest really banking on easy going infectious riffs and power ballads that remind you every rose has its thorn as you put on your cowboy hat and boots, Sex First still ends up good choice for fans of this particular brand of Rock who crave infectious hooks, enthusiastic performances, and just the right amount of sleaze.

Review originally composed for Apoch's Metal Review.