If you thought ‘LOTR’ was as angry as New Zealand got, think again. From the North Islands come hard n’ heavily bearded metal bastards Sinate.
It’s not a name that you may be aware of but you should and recently released ‘To the Death’ is the bands third release to date and their second with renowned engineer/producer Pelle Saether (Carnal Forge and Corporation 187) at the helm.
Building on the tour de force they created with their two previous albums ‘Beyond Human’ and ‘Violent Ambitions’, Sinate have created an incredibly versatile yet loyal thrash sound all of their own and ‘To the Death’ is a the sound of a band that are dedicated to making their mark. And make it they do.
Acoustic intros to songs are a trademark of metal music and whenever you hear one you know that you’re just a musical corner away from a cracking good and heavy riff. One of the joys of this is the false sense of security you let the song give you before the fury is released.
Album opener ‘Curse of the Blood Eagle’ does just this as it launches into a riff fresh the bands 80’s classical speed metal collection. A ripping mini-solo later and the ears are being pounded by the crushing heavy riff you just knew was coming. The now former Vocalist/Guitarist Matt Sheppard declares war and vocally adds another shit-ton of weight to the whole pounding process that is being backed solidly and impressively by drummer Sam Sheppard.
By the time you’ve dislocated your shoulder from punching the air and scooped up the melted remains of your face from the second solo, you realise that you’re only 2 minutes into the first of 10 songs. This is an incredibly strong track to open the album with and I had to wonder if the rest of the album would stand up to the standard ‘Curse…’ had set.
Whatever concerns I had were instantly lost when ‘Premonition of the Wicked’ burst through my speakers and throttled me for having ever doubted them. A scale run/drum fill starts things off and quickly shifts to a chuggy groove that you can’t help but nod heavily along to. Focussed more on the groove side of things, the song comes complete with a mammoth lead section holding everything you need to make a great solo.
‘Submit Your Blood’ has a much more old school thrash feel about it than the previous tracks. The groove is still there of course but the song is chock full with one classic sounding riff after another. By the end of the song, I remembered why I liked thrash metal so much in the first place.
‘The Black Death’ doesn’t start as a song. It initially starts as a ton of blackened metal that lands on you before it explodes into an erotic thrash-out riff. Matts leather vocals are consistently shifting tones and happily keeping the dynamic fresh whilst he and fellow guitarist Matt Fawcett (bet that doesn’t get confusing at all) belt out riff after riff after riff.
‘Order of the dragon’ more groove/struts than groove/rocks. Not in a disco, John Travolta way of course. There’s a different kind of attitude that comes across as the song progresses. The main riff is catchy as hell but something in the overall song is lacking. Even during yet another great solo there just seems to be something missing. Despite the cracking thrash out going on under the solo. I think it would be fair to say that somehow ‘Order…’ strays uncomfortably from what the rest of the album has produced so far and the result is a track that, as good as it still is, fails to carry to same conviction.
‘Return to Scars’ brings us back considerably closer to what we have grown accustomed to here with twin harmonies, crunchy grooves and destructive vocals. Again there is still a certain feel about the song that is a little inconsistent with the rest of the album.
‘Seizure’ touches unexpectedly on a more discordant, melodic sound before tearing into one of the best riffs on the album so far. It’s almost as if they knew the previous two songs were a little different and this is the aptly titled “return to album form” by seizing your ear drums and roaring at them until the explode.
Where ‘Seizure’ dragged you back into the flow of things then ‘Godless World’ shuts the door behind you with a deadly thunk. From the moment the song kicks you find yourself fully under their control again. The whole song just reeks of an old school metal childhood and provides at good sense of nostalgia with it.
Realising that I had reached the penultimate track I stopped for a moment to take stock of what I had heard so far. This was a seriously good album, which is why I was caught completely off guard by what I heard next. ‘The Pain’ kicks in and I am almost instantly drawing a much-stronger-than-I-would-like comparison to Metallica. Even the solo sounds a little too reminiscent to Kirk’s legendary tapping solo in Metallica’s classic track ‘One’. As if to further the Metallica allusion the song breaks down into a mellow middle section complete with lead break (Master of Puppets?.) But bear in mind, I said REMENISCENT of, not exactly like Metallica. ‘The Pain´ is still very much a distinctively Sinate song and nothing has been “ripped off” here as such. The song is chock of great thrash riffs and lead breaks. It just bears some similarities to a classic band that they have no doubt grown up listening to and playing along to. Maybe it was a nod of respect and meant to be that way. In which case lads, job done.
Hitting the final track of the album always excites me because often the closer is as strong as the opener. In some cases I’ve found the last track to be my outright favourite. Though maybe not becoming an instant favourite, ‘Seperatist’ is definitely high up on the list. Again we’re treated to a more melodic sounding discordance before the engines fire and once again Matt’s vocals are there like a devil in your ear making you love the ‘evil, shouty music’. This song literally has everything in it. Everything you’ve heard on the album already compressed into just 3:23 and with just enough extra to send you out on a massively metal high.
Overall the album is a mix of 80’s thrash/speed and death metal that has been processed through a modern thrash blender and formed into a giant slab of modern metal to club you round the face with. But to put it simply, it is modern metal at its finest. This album has so many great moments with every song having hook after hook after hook. The lead work is flawless throughout and brilliantly played. I challenge any metalhead worth their salt to not be headbanging before ‘Premonitions…’ has even finished.
It doesn’t matter that Sinate aren’t already a bigger band. Why? Because they soon will be, that’s why. Considering they’re from one of the southern-most inhabitable parts of the planet (Middle Earth), they had already achieved a huge amount for a band in such a remote location and now they are based in Europe for the foreseeable future. I think it’s only a matter of time and one more album before Sinate are heading straight up the metalstream ladder to every festival stage there is. Everywhere!