REVIEW: SINISTER – “Deformation Of The Holy Realm”
There’s an undeniable charm in the Dutch death metal scene. Namely, star acts like Asphyx, Thanatos, Ceremony, Soulburn, Pestilence and, of course, Sinister blasted their unique take on the genre in the ’90s and carved their name in metal history by allying heaviness, somberness and some original dutch flavor to one of metal’s most prominent and beloved subgenre. Veterans in the verses of occultism and death, Aad Kloosterwaard and company are forcing their way once again with ‘Deformation of the Holy Realm’, the band’s 14th full length.
Following the footsteps of the awesome ‘Sincretism’ (2017) by showcasing a brand of mid-era Behemoth-like aura mixed with some sheer brutality that bands like Malevolent Creation or Morbid Angel are masters of doing, this album actually goes one step further than some of its predecessors: it adds more macabre atmosphere with semi-Gregorian passages and unholy ambience.
“The Funeral March” sets the tone and “Suffering from Immortal Death” rips his way with powerful riffs, and masterful growls by Kloosterwaard, which almost makes for a brutal death track, as Kloosterwaard’s vocal lines flirt with pig-squeals sometimes, and the bass-drum combo hits nonstop.
Toep Duin is also one of the high-points here: his no-frills, non-stop drumming is as organic as it gets when using this much speed, and his blast beats are also worthy of praise, especially in songs with several breaks on the tempo, like “Scourged by Demons”.
There is no room to breathe here; every note, every scream, and every beat was surgically created to pulverize your speakers and make you want to bang your brains out. Songs like “Apostles of the Weak”, “Unbounded Sacrilege” and “The Ominous Truth” are the most visceral here and have been smartly spaced to keep the energy to a maximum, always.
The tremolos, the aura, the blasphemous riffing…it all reeks of classic Sinister and there are even some odes to early-Dismember, Cryptopsy and Benediction here – all vastly welcomed, if you ask me. You can sense and feel every passage of the record, every instrument can be heard clearly and every performance has been executed to damn-near perfection.
The mixing and mastering works are also stellar, provided by the experienced Kristian “Kohle” Kohlmannslehner (Another Perfect Day), best known for his engineering works with Powerwolf, Aborted, Benighted and Crematory. This is clearly a step above ‘Sincretism’ in terms of dynamic range and overall instrumental brutality, but without losing that organic feel so sought in old-school death metal.
‘Deformation of the Holy Realm’ is old-school death metal at its core. Sinister have stepped up their game once again and delivered a profane, vicious throwback to the genre’s roots, and showed why experience is always key in metal. Buy this, download it, borrow from someone, I don’t care; this is a must-listen experience and one of the best death metal albums of 2020 so far.