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Sinister - Cross the Styx
Review: During the early days of death metal, Sinister resolved the seemingly infinite gap between fast melodic bands and those who used more explosive, choppy rhythms, creating a unique sound in which percussive rage and distant but precise melodies complement each other in a trading of aggressive incursions toward a central theme. In doing so, the band created a varied texture with dynamics and the structural benefits of melody, crafting mazes of riffs that expanded in context and so made each successive riff explain the previous ones in a new light.
While many of these structures are rotational, they avoid riff/chorus for a sense of letting vocals guide each song between motifs, using a complex series of tempo changes to create discursive and introductory riffs which lead through a series of similar riffs back to the riff most clearly associated with verse or chorus. Adept changes of direction, and brief appearances by riffs commenting on their parents, allow this band to demonstrate their versatility in making a multitude of technical riffs fit together into song.
The smooth fusion of the chaotic elements of death metal into a new style defines this album. From the Americas, it borrows the bursting riffs of Sepultura and the thunderous recursion of Deicide, while showing influences from Slayer as well, but into this it mixes the rich European tradition of neoclassical melody and Gothic theatricism as found in Destruction and Massacra, and Sinister merge these into a technical, musical and muscular form of death metal which flows together smoothly, making this album a landmark for the genre.