SInistro Semente 2016Whenever I’m given a new band to check out for review, I do as much thorough investigating as humanly possible. So when a band is labeled as “doom rock,” which is the case with today’s subject of scrutiny, Portugal’s Sinistro, I get a bit antsy, as it’s usually just a cover-up for gothic silliness. Add to the fact that the band members only go by one letter each (save for frontwoman Patricia Andrade), and it doesn’t bode very well from the start. With warning flags in mind, how does their second album, Semente, fare in the face of all these preconceived notions courtesy of their promo sheet?

Surprisingly, pretty good. Opener “Partida” lurches forth with a lumbering riff by guitarists Y and R (this is going to get annoying very quick), but it’s when Andrade starts to sing that your attention is pulled towards the sonic vortex. Her voice is sultry, seductive, and enchanting, reminding me a bit of Shirley Manson (Garbage) and Beth Gibbons (Portishead). At 1:50, it turns dreamy with Andrade cooing gently over the throbbing basslines of F (annoyed yet?) and F’s lush keyboard melodies before returning from this dream-like state to bring the heavy back. We are then treated to some drum fills by P (why, god, why?!) before going back to the main riff. Not mind-blowing, but still rather enjoyable throughout the song’s six minute duration.

While Semente attempts to come across as a team effort, it’s clear as daylight that Andrade’s vocal performance is the clear stand-out. Her voice comes across as reassuring throughout the entirety of “Corpo Presente,” seductive-yet-yearning on the title track, and even mournful on “A Visita.” Her versatility is admirable, and this is all done in the band’s native Portuguese tongue. As for the music, it’s takes a bit of a back seat, and would very rarely classify as “metal,” with some exceptions. The transition of the trip-hop dreaminess found on the title-track into the mammoth-heavy lumber of “Reliquia” is astounding, as are the last 5 minutes of closing track “Fragmento.” But for the most part, it acts as a bed for Andrade’s voice to lay upon.

Sinistro Band 2016
The production is thick and unforgiving. The guitars have some incredible heft, as does F’s bass and P’s bass drum. The cymbals sound a little too shiny for my liking, but overall it’s appropriately monolithic. My big concern is some of the songwriting choices. The last five minutes of “Fragmento,” albeit heavy and unrelenting, is quite literally one riff played ad nauseam. And with the exception of the aforementioned tracks, there’s little to remember, and what is memorable is often because of Andrade’s beautiful voice. What makes bands like My Dying Bride heralded is not only their talent as musicians, but how they construct and vary their songs. Sinistro has the talent, but they need to craft better tunes to hold one’s attention.

I was half-expecting another horrible album brought forth by people who only use initials as names (and that trend needs to die, like, yesterday), and thankfully I was pleasantly surprised by how good Semente is. If they can work on their songwriting a bit, I can see these guys and girl rubbing shoulder-to-shoulder with the likes of My Dying Bride in the coming years. One to keep an eye on.


Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Season of Mist
Websites: sinistroband.com | facebook.com/sinistroband
Releases Worldwide: April 8th, 2016

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  • André Snyde Lopes

    Ah, Portugal… Where metal is almost never better than “decent” and truly excellent albums only come once in a blue moon(spell).

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      Sadly I have to agree, Portugal greatest export has never been Metal. Apparently there is only enough iron for one sword.

      • AlteredState

        Unfortunately I have to agree as well. While there are some exceptions, in general, the produced material could be better.
        Sadly there is still some stigma against metal in general from most people and even from the metal community there is some strange ideas regarding the concept of “true metal”. Basically, metal must be underground. If it’s not underground is automatically “comercial” and therefore bad. It’s common to see on certain occasions some band members attacking other bands on Facebook and other nonsense like that.
        Concluding, with this general panorama, it’s hard to have a good environment in order for artists to produce good material.

        • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

          The saddest part is that Portuguese people have proven themselves capable of producing music that is beautiful, sad and deeply moving. Portuguese people has over and over again proved themselves capable of producing music with haunting, harrowing, beautiful female vocals.
          Just check Fado music as proof of all that.

          Those are qualities that are fully compatible with Metal. Somehow they haven’t yet imbued that Fado spirit into Portuguese Metal.

          • AlteredState

            I know. The haunting voice of Teresa Salgueiro from Madredeus comes automatically to mind. And indeed we have some cases where the sadness and deep has merged in some way into the metal realm, but it’s a rare phenomenon i think.
            Right away I can only remember of Aenima (Dark Wave), Ava Inferi (Doom) and NEVOA (Doom/Black)…

      • “Apparently there is only enough iron for one sword.”

        That’s a pretty damned good metaphor.

  • Feytalist

    Had a quick listen through their backlog. You’re right; the music takes a definite backseat to the vocals, but what a voice that is! I’m hooked, I admit.

    I wouldn’t mind a bit of variation in the music, and some heavier melodies, but yeah, good stuff.

    • RuySan

      The singer kind of reminds me of the one from Lycia, as also kinda does the softer parts.

      Speaking of which, i should listen to Lycia more often.

    • AlteredState

      Try to listen to their EP called Cidade. The sound sound is heavier and Andrade has a killer performance there as well.

      • Feytalist

        Yeah, I listened to it right after I posted that comment! It’s really really good. I want more of that.

  • Dethjesta

    Andrade really does make, what could otherwise be rather dull music, something rather compelling. Love the embedded track, it certainly encourages me to check this band out more.

    Although, the video is a bit scary.

  • Whiskeyjack

    Wow, this is totally better than I was expecting! between this lot and Oceans of Slumber, lady Doom gone boom this month!

  • AlteredState

    I’ve been a follower of their sound for a while now, and while “Semente” is a great album, it really lacks a bit of the ambient and great lyrics created in the first appearance of Patricia Andrade on the band in the EP “Cidade” (Portuguese for city). This EP has as it’s theme the city of Lisbon (where I live) and for me, it gives an awesome representation of it. Patricia Andrade really shines there, showing a lot of versatility. The band itself look like it had more space to show their skills and soul.

    For me “Cidade (Parte I)” is still my favorite music from them.

    Can’t wait to hear these guys playing next friday here on Lisbon :)

    • Feytalist

      Yeah, I just listened to Cidade. It’s amazing. I really hope they continue to grow along those lines. Will be keeping an eye out for more.

      • AlteredState

        yeah, me too. I’m very curious to see how they are live. I hope that they’ll have a slightly heavier versions of some of the songs from Semente and i’m really praying that they’l play some or all of the EP “Cidade”

  • [not a Dr]

    This looks like a job for Blueberry Balls

    • Blueberry Balls

      You rang..?

  • Diego Molero

    You lost me at “one letter each”, but quickly recoverd with “frontwoman”. This sounds very nice.

  • manimal

    2:40: Angry Metal Knitting

  • Pimpolho

    This is bloody beautiful, wow, i have no words actually, i’m mesmerized. Maybe it’s the initial impact, but i really really love this.

  • Tom Hardy

    The opening riff in the embedded track reminds me of Shape of Despair in it’s tone and the way it’s very atmospheric doom~esque. The middle felt weak but the review’s got me curious to try this over the weekend Grymmy, danke schön.

  • Blueberry Balls

    This is giddy-up good. In a downer kind of way. Does that make sense?

  • Yes, loving this album! I’m very happy to be able to see ‘m next week at Roadburn. Curious how they are live.

    • AlteredState

      Just saw them yesterday here in Lisbon. Awesome performance. Patricia’s voice is exactly the same live as in the album :)

  • junkyhead

    Mesmerizing stuff. Listened to it yesterday, such a great sound.