Sinister – Syncretism (2017)

Some bands gained prominence because of their influence on other musicians but were given less credit by fans years later because they no longer had current releases. The Dutch death metal assault Sinister crafted three albums of great influence but then faded away in the mid-1990s, leading to fewer people mentioning their place in the death metal canon.

Sinister broke into the scene with Cross the Styx, a somewhat messy onslaught of intense rhythm that broke into striking old world melodies at crucial times despite some disorganization. The band refined that style and brought greater technicality to their second release, Diabolical Summoning, then combined the percussive strand of death metal with their technical yet melodic assault on the epic Hate before fading away with a series of less focused releases through the late 1990s and 2000s.

With Syncretism, Sinister returns with a release that ties together their many influences in a form that is both streamlined and abundant in its use of nuance and variation. On the surface, Syncretism fits into the world of percussive death metal innovated by bands like Suffocation, but the band have invented a musical vocabulary that borrows and adapts elements of other sub-genres, such as the rushing chromatic riffs of war metal, the melodic lead rhythm guitar that modern metal overuses, phrases ending in melodic fills from early black metal, and compositional tendencies from progressive death metal and flowing black metal that are now integrated into an entirely different dialect.

Songs begin with primitive and elemental over-the-top rhythm riffing which serves, in echoes of Diabolical Summoning, to set a kind of meta-theme against which all other riffs play off; as opposed to a straightforward syncopation, for example, all rhythms on drums and guitars tend to play with the rhythmic figure of the initial theme. The rest of the song serves to make sense of that founding idea and then expand upon it, causing the later third of each song to begin with a changed atmosphere, and then repeat the original theme in the new context. This creates a union between the power of repetition and the need for death metal to advance a narrative by changing context as riffs comment on one another; if anything, this could be used more.

Unlike all modern metal bands and many of the more simplistic percussive death metal acts, Sinister knows how to shape moods like putty, using adroitly bizarre solos bent among the riffs and building intensity in layers of repetition interrupted by contrary dialogue. If anything, this album sounds like early 2000s era Gorguts or Immolation with more variation in riff form and melody, capturing both the intense power of death metal and the nuances that make it great. Syncretism shows us a genre that not only has no need of dying, but continues evolving in its older form, picking up newer influences in a naturalized vocabulary upon which the album can build new passageways in the ancient labyrinth of death metal.

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19 thoughts on “Sinister – Syncretism (2017)”

  1. Autism, the website says:

    I sense another editorial purge has taken place….

    1. Brock Dorsey says:

      Wrong, bitch! There is no escape

      1. cornrose says:

        Hahahahahaha, that’s right!! Shut your motherfucking mouth… bitch!! Deus Vult!!

  2. Aggressive Measures is Deicide covering Cowboys From Hell.

  3. Timothyhot says:

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  4. Dirk says:

    Thanks for bringing this cd to our attention. Now we just need to hire a troll-hunter for the message boards.

  5. afgdfg says:

    Dubious Nightside Eclipse Artwork lol

  6. Corn lord says:

    In the last paragraph you refer to the album as “skepticism”, surely you meant “syncretism”?

  7. thewaters says:

    In the last sentence you refer to the album as “Skepticism” instead of “Syncretism”.

  8. Check these out:

    Brutality – When The Sky Turns Black
    Disgrace – Grey Misery
    Napalm Death – Fear Emptiness Despair
    Abhorrence – Completely Vulgar
    Human Remains – Using Sickness As A Hero

    1. >Brutality – When The Sky Turns Black


      >Disgrace – Grey Misery


      >Napalm Death – Fear Emptiness Despair


      >Abhorrence – Completely Vulgar

      Probably not. Title sounds r u talkin to me related.

      >Human Remains – Using Sickness As A Hero

      Interesting for a rotation and a half. Boils down to noisy hardcore.

      I’d also like to say that this Sinister album only really shines when the horns and shit come through(but theres ALOT of that here :)). Everything else is really fucking mundane. They should just be an updated Celtic Frost instead of pretending they want to play percussive riffs anymore. I kind of feel the same way about Hate too though. Its just not quite the Deicide or Suffocation level of ferocious intricacy to make much of an impact on me. Cross the Styx and Diabolical Summoning are better.

      1. Marc Defranco says:

        Abhorrence are classic Finnish DM no tough guy posering there

      2. Abhorrence – Completely Vulgar compiles demos from an early 90’s Finnish death metal legend often seen as the pre-Amorphis band, even though it only had 1 member of that band. These demos are well written and recorded. Check it out.

      3. chad says:

        Hate > anything that Suffocation or Deicide ever did bar Legion. And Fear, Emptiness, Despair is good unlike Brutallity’s mall death metal.

        1. This track has more to it than just being headbanging music, check it out:

          Brutality has a lot of cool tracks on the first couple albums.

        2. Glad we’re on the same page about Legion at least I guess. That Napalm Death is a steaming pile of grooving horseshit though.

  9. What’s with the gay power metal ripoff of Necrolord’s In the Nightside Eclipse cover? Where’s Mike van Mastrigt?

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