Sinister: The Carnage Ending

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Sinister: The Carnage Ending
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Sinister: The Carnage Ending
Death Metal
Massacre Records
September 28th, 2012 / November 27th, 2012 (US)
Release length: 48:13
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Back in 2011, founding member Aad Kloosterwaard became the only surviving member of the reunited Sinister for a short period of time before bringing in an entire new cast of musicians. The Carnage Ending is the first effort to show off this new collection’s talent when it comes to new material. Involved on this album are bassist Mathijs Brussaard, additional bassist and guitarist Dennis Hartog, drummer Toep Duin, and guitariast Bas Brusszaard, all of which are members of Absurd Universe. But, does this new line-up make for a fantastic tenth album, or does The Carnage Ending simply fail to live up to any of the past formations had to offer?

The audio quality to The Carnage Ending isn’t too bad. The album has a nice rich sound that accentuates a little extra bass, but not too much that it causes the entire album to have a deep, punishing output. The guitars have a deeper tuning with a strong distortion that’s common for the style, and the bass is pretty loud in the mix with a nice lower tone coming through as well. The snares of the drum kit go from a mid-ranged emptiness to a subtle deeper booming, while the crisp cymbals are much louder, sometimes having the potential to drown out those snares a bit. The bass kicks have a very loud, thunderous click that just tears right through the music to be the dominant element of the band next to the solid guttural vocal performance that is just a little lower than most of the drum kit itself.

While the production quality still sounds good, there’s no denying The Carnage Ending has a bit of a rocky start. “Gates of Bloodshed (Intro)” is a simple gothic-era keyboard performance, but the sound itself just comes off a bit bland and even out of place, better suiting a Folk Metal offering than a Sinister album. It also doesn’t quite reach the epic scale clearly trying to be achieved. “Unheavenly Domain” starts off immediately with a simpler groove to the music that ends up a bit open due to the audio, but quickly grows richer the further you get into the song. The material also switches to a more chaotic pace, but with extremely catchy blastbeats and faster riffs. This acts as a good representation of what’s to come, especially with some of the later tracks like the title song “The Carnage Ending.” This one doesn’t quite carry the same groovey Death Metal approach, but the intensity that the blast beats introduce on “Unheavenly Domain” is at its strongest. The fury and energy is captured superbly in the main verses with plenty of chugging sections, namely bridges, to keep the aggression and intimidating alive. There’s some additional keyboards towards the end, but they aren’t even needed to accentuate a brief haunting atmosphere, especially given the slow, dismal second guitar solo that is as memorable as the faster paced one that hits around the half way point. This is easily one of the more memorable offerings this album has to offer, but far from only one that adds to its atmosphere.

Many of these songs are heavy, and almost all will have you banging your head along instinctively, but there are some that focus on the environment a bit more. “Transylvania (City of the Damned)” brings that thicker groove back into play again, but also has some infectious haunting keyboards in the background in some areas that just adds to the already intimidating atmosphere. It’s also surprising some of the shorter blasts that leave some empty space here and there aren’t met with the same open sound that “Unheavenly Domain” started off with. But, between the chaotic passages and those shorter bursts, as well as an excellent guitar solo, this one offers a good deal of aggression and madness to keep the listener intent from start to finish. It doesn’t quite compete with the intensity of “Crown of Thorns” though. The slower, creeping pace of the guitars from time to time, such as at the very start, establish a burdening sensation laced with Doom Metal influence. When the performance picks up, it’s like a pulse pounding attempt at escape after being brutalized by an unstoppable force, never letting up until you reach the rather abrupt conclusion. Aside that, this intimidating atmosphere comes back with a vengeance on “Oath of Rebirth.” Again, slower passages with creepy leads usher in a dismal Doom Metal approach that can chill the listener to the core. Outside those sections, the pace trudges on to make you want to headbang along, but sadly not every passage remains that addictive, making this a memorable song more for the atmosphere than the music itself.

While The Carnage Ending is far from an album that is going to change the rules for Death Metal in general, it definitely is one of the stronger albums Sinister has released lately. Not including the introduction, this release packs ten tracks of groove filled Death Metal that is often laced with intimidation and varied atmospheres, all of which offers a rich, infectious, headbang worthy experience for just about all of the forty five plus minutes of its existence. If you’ve been a fan of Sinister in the past, there’s no reason to bypass The Carnage Ending, even if you’re concerned about the new band members. One spin through will have you immediately realize that Aad made the right choice when it came to bringing these guys into the fold, creating as solid a force as ever before.

01. Gates of Bloodshed (Intro) – 1:23
02. Unheavenly Domain – 3:27
03. Transylvania (City of the Damned) – 5:13
04. Thy Casual Enemy – 5:01
05. Crown of Thorns – 5:17
06. The Carnage Ending – 5:26
07. Oath of Rebirth – 4:06
08. Regarding the Imagery – 3:42
09. Blood Ecstasy – 4:42
10. Defamatory Content – 4:33
11. Final Destroyer – 5:23
Initial Pressing Score: 9/10

Sinister (band)
Sinister

Digital review copy of this release provided by Massacre Records via Earsplit PR.