Friday, February 28, 2014

Sinister - The Carnage Ending

Almost every band that has been around for more than 20 years has put out at least one bad album. Sinister, despite having a quite massive “former members” list, have managed to pull through with each release. In light of the Dutch death metal pioneers’ new album that is set to be released sometime this summer via Massacre Records, I thought it’d be nice to look back to 2012 and peel back the layers of their most recent release, The Carnage Ending. A few years back, I reviewed The Silent Howling, and because I live under a fucking rock, a lot happened between The Silent Howling and The Carnage Ending and I didn’t learn about it until recently. Despite that, I have had this album in my library since its release because of the dependability of this band. Even though I didn’t really have the time to listen to it because of being busy with other things, I knew that it didn’t matter when I listened to it; Sinister has yet to disappoint me.

The crazy thing that happened between 2008 and 2012 was 3 of the 4 members parting ways with the band. So now, the vocalist isn’t just the only remaining original member, but he’s also the only member that has been in the band longer than 5 years…great. And although he is an original member of Sinister, some take the technicality that he was their drummer when Sinister first formed in 1988 and didn’t become the vocalist until he and another member decided to resurrect the band after a 2 year hiatus (which obviously didn’t include their original vocalist). So because he’s not their original VOCALIST, people take that and say that there’s no original members left in the band. And yes, there are plenty of bands out there that only have one original member still standing, but I can’t think of a case where EVERYONE except for one member just left the band at once. If you can name other bands that have endured this type of loss without breaking up, please leave a comment on this post!

Due to the completely different lineup, I’m not going to compare this one with their extensive discography quite as much as I would with any of its predecessors. On top of that, what does it fucking matter? Have Sinister ever gone to shit before? No! And I can reassure you that The Carnage Ending isn’t any better or worse (by a whole lot) than any of their other albums! If you know these guys well, you know exactly what to expect; pure, uncut, straight-up death metal. No excess technicality, minimal melody, little emphasis on breakdowns, and a record that is better sounding as a whole than the individual songs by themselves.

On that note, there are some progressions that have been made. Although not completely necessary, it’s best to have a good variety of different tempos in each track. Sinister have proved to not be the best at this. They’ve made multiple attempts at putting in breakdowns, extreme tempo changes, and oddball breaks in their music, and every album in which they do that, it ends up sounding very choppy. Every time they produce an album like this, they always go back to just sticking to a few similar speeds. Thankfully, the guitar and vocal work have kept the music interesting enough to avoid getting the “monotony” sticker. In my review of The Silent Howling, I did mention that, in order for these guys to keep up on their game, they needed to have some hidden surprises in the next album to keep the predictability level from getting any higher than it needed to be.

I’m not saying that this is because of the lineup being COMPLETELY different aside from their vocalist, but Sinister have finally figured out how to use a magical tool known as a “transition”. Ever wondered why your music sounded so goddamn choppy on Savage or Grace? Because the album is completely void of any attempt at transitions. Something must have clicked this time because this album has everything that they’ve tried to do, only they’re actually succeeding! There are breakdowns in almost every song that are laid out PERFECTLY and aren’t over exaggerated like the breakdowns on a deathcore album would be. Sinister is way too Dutch to turn into a deathcore band; as well as being too old. Anyways, there’s a lot more variety WITHIN each song than anything they’ve ever done before. Yet interestingly enough, when you look at the album as a whole, the songs all generally sound the same (with some give or take of course).

The guitar solos haven’t changed since the band’s return from hiatus in 2005, which is good considering the unique shredding style of the solos are an important part of Sinister’s sound. In exchange for an increase in groove, Sinister have given up some brutality, which is a loss for me because of the PERFECT brutality level The Silent Howling had.

I’m not a fan of the overly processed sound of the vocals. I know this isn’t the raw sound of the vocals because of how much less polished the vocals from The Silent Howling sound. Although it’s a minor alteration, it’s enough to be noticeable by me. Then again, I wouldn’t have noticed that if I wasn’t reviewing this album. A lot of the things that make us reviewers seem nit-picky and snotty are things that we wouldn’t have noticed without analyzing the music closely and paying attention to every individual little thing. It’s something I consider to be somewhat of a curse that comes with the album reviewing process; you start noticing negative things that you wouldn’t normally hear through leisurely playing the album.

There’s one last thing I want to point out: the drummer. This album has the best drum work out of Sinister’s entire discography. Yes, even the drumming off of Aggressive Measures doesn’t amount to the drumming on this record. Maybe the drumming on The Carnage Ending is not quite as tight and solid as Aggressive Measures, but definitely far more creative and intricate. The blast beats are very crisp and a pleasure to the ears. Overall, this is more than any casual death metal fan could ask for! It’s quality! Personally, the interest factor doesn’t match that of The Silent Howling or Hate, but this is a big step in the right direction. Death metal fans need to give this one a listen. The Carnage Ending gets my score of 15/20.