Pandora's Box

Original Sin

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This gothic rock epic was the brainchild of Jim Steinman, the writer/producer behind Meat Loaf and the 1980s resurgence of Bonnie Tyler. This time, Steinman ups the musical ante by utilizing a quartet of powerful female vocalists (including former Meat Loaf backup singer Ellen Foley). Fittingly, Original Sin bears all the hallmarks of the Jim Steinman style: epic-length songs, over-the-top and romance-obsessed lyrics, and plenty of rock & roll bombast. A great example of this approach is the opening track, "Original Sin"; this moody rumination on romantic obsession starts as a piano ballad but soon transforms into a rock song and continues to build until it becomes a rock-operatic aria. Another highlight in the same vein is "It's All Coming Back to Me Now," a tormented ballad about romantic loss and regret built on a spooky yet heart-wrenching piano melody. The latter song is also notable because it would later become a massive hit when covered by Celine Dion. Other songs explore a danceable style enhanced by electronic touches: the most notable example is a cover of the Doors' "Twentieth Century Fox," which tarts up this classic with several layers of synthesizer effects, a Jimi Hendrix sample, and musical quotes from "In the Midnight Hour" and "Light My Fire." These songs are vividly brought to life by the album's four vocalists, who lend gospel-fueled firepower to the uptempo songs and a surprising emotional vulnerability to the quieter ballads. The resulting album is an odd but fascinating combination of dark humor, heartfelt emotion, and ornate instrumentation. It is not for all tastes, but is well-crafted throughout and will appeal to anyone who enjoyed Jim Steinman's hits with Meat Loaf and Bonnie Tyler.

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