What can you say about Mat Sinner? One of the great institutions of German hard rock and heavy metal, he’s been the force between two of that country’s most enduring metal/hard rock exports, Sinner and Primal Fear, not to mention his work with the juggernaut that is Rock Meets Classic; essentially, he can do what he likes, but here, for Santa Muerte, his eponymous band’s nineteenth studio album, he’s taken one of the biggest risks of his storied career.

That risk is handing over half the lead vocal duties to the glorious Georgia Colleluori, lately of Eternal Idol and also associated as a backing vocalist with Rock MeetsClassic. One of Sinner (the band’s) keystones is the easy-on-the-ear, lived in vocal style of Sinner (the man). On the face of it to rid fifty per cent of the album of this inherent charm is a massive gamble – how can changing the vocal style of a band nineteen albums into it’s career possibly work?

Somehow, Matt and his band of sinners pull it off. Opening up with the thunderous Shine On – wisely featuring Colleluori on vocals first up – all doubts are swept away on the back of the first in a series of bravura performances from the lady. Big names like Ronnie Romero and Ricky Warwick might make cameo appearances on the record, sure – but they are forced to live in the shade of Georgia’s triumphant pipes.

Sinner and Colleluori duet on the stinging heavy metal of Last Exit Hell – the one song on the album you might imagine Primal Fear taking a stab at – their voices meshing well before the storming duel lead guitars of Tom Naumann and Alex Scholpp take over come solo time. But even within the context of this team effort, it’s Colleluori who stands out the most.

Consequently, with such powerful new blood on board, the rest of the band are forced to look to themselves to drag out their A game at all times. Which means this is the most consistently exciting Sinner album in a long, long time. Even the obligatory Thin Lizzy tribute, What Went Wrong (you guessed it – this is where Ricky Warwick comes in) sounds energised and sparky rather than lumpen and forced, as has been the case in the past.

So, the gamble pays off, in spades… purists will doubtless bemoan this change in artistic tack, but there’s no doubt that the presence of Georgia Colleluori within Sinner’s ranks makes the band a more compelling prospect both live and on record. Let’s hope this is a collaboration that goes from strength to strength!

Santa Muerte is released on September 13th.