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Sinister - Bastard Saints
Review: Capitalizing on the success of their previous album Hate, Sinister approach it with an EP comprised of two re-recorded songs from their exalted first album Cross the Styx and two new songs plus introduction in the now-trademark style of Hate, which represented an apex of popularity for this longstanding underground act.
Previously, Sinister's sophomore effort Diabolical Summoning showed a band caught in the grip of artistic potential but slipping dangerously close to irrelevance through indecision regarding style, and thus the voice they would use to make their works; in some ways this EP is reminiscent of that time, when lack of unifying direction reduced songs to a few cool bits of riffs wandering in seas of ashen, contextless chords collapsing on top of one another like shingles of an incompetent roof.
Each of the new songs bears similarities to heavy rotation tracks on Hate if mixed with radio heavy metal, using the abrupt strumming riffs of a death metal band to potentiate rhythm closer to the eternally popular style of Exodus or Exhorder than death metal; by putting the expectation in a riff on a off-time double strum, Sinister achieve a catchy bounciness similar to material in more of a commercial metal vein, like rock and funk which are entirely expectation-driven. Both pieces fashion characteristically abusive mutations of chord progressions into elemental boomerang riffs, and hold together rhythmically where composition falters.
The previously-composed songs from the first album of this Dutch band, "Cross the Styx" and "Epoch of Denial," reveal Sinister trying to adapt their new sonic voice to a previous style of death metal, breaking it down where necessary to keep the rigidity and vocal-dominance of newer stylings to the band -- and on the whole, slowing each track down for comprehensibility. While this CD demonstrates the simple power of this seductive sub-style to the aggressive front of death metal, it becomes fixated on the style and having made that the goal, allows the content to drift closer to boring mainstream rock/metal.