At what point do we call something a comeback? L.L. Cool J seems to think that if someone’s “been here for years” then we are not to refer to whatever they may do as a comeback. Mightiest, a German black metal band, have technically been here for years in the form of releasing scattered demos and EP’s since 1994 and what their promo material tells me was a legendary German gig back in 1997. Even though SinisTerra1 comes hot on the heels of an EP in 2004 it seems wrong to call it a comeback because they didn’t technically leave or break up. However, Mightiest were for all intents and purposes inactive for twelve years before 2016, so Mr. Cool J’s sole standard for not calling this a comeback has technically not been met, which means that we have good reason to call SinisTerra a comeback. So call it a comeback or don’t, but you’d be hard pressed to call SinisTerra anything less than good.
Mightiest play an intriguing form of black metal that leans heavily on the long-winded and hugely melodic structures of Dawn’s Slaughtersun but instead of primarily merging Dark Tranquility and other Gothenburg luminaries with the more melodic strains of the Second Wave, SinisTerra also brings some NWOBHM/hard rock via what Dissection was doing on Reinkao, although this is decidedly more trve than that record. There’s a metric ton more blasting than Reinkaos‘ plethora of simplistic rock and thrash beats though, and this ends up contributing to the trver natvre ov SinisTerra. I’m also reminded of Atlantean Kodex here and there in some song structures, riffing, and melodies. Mightiest is heavier overall, but the heroic sounds of The White Goddess poke their head out here and there in a compelling way. This is a far cry from the sad sounding “I can’t read Nietzsche correctly”-core nihilism that populates so much mediocre black metal, and it’s all the better for it.
There’s something that sounds very right about SinisTerra. The melodic work is excellent, and as an added bonus it avoids weepy post-black histrionics entirely. “Devour the Sun” has a repeating melody that could be mistaken for Dark Tranquility that’s memorable, effective, and uses just the right amount to exploit its best qualities. Apart from hilariously making me think of a nihilistic Bonnie Tyler, “Soular Eclipse”2 goes full NWOBHM in its main lead and absolutely nails it. Hell, the majority of the song is a righteous melodic black metal and Angel Witch merger that sits quite well with me due to Mightiest’s deft songwriting and knack for writing hooks. In what will after certain recent developments make AMG Himself really want to hear this, “Oceanic Empires” somehow manages to successfully evoke Alestorm in its verse and other scattered parts, the black metal influenced “Death Throes of the Terrorsquid” in particular. It makes for a surprisingly good song with an effective and triumphant folk-ish flair to it in spots.
Much like when you’re incredibly hungry, order a massive burger, and realize that it’s too much, Mightiest bite off a bit more than they can chew sometimes in the song length department while trying to give us their all on their full-length debut. The title track has the tendency to repeat its good ideas too often and ends up somewhere near the danger zone, while the similar tempos of each song could make SinisTerra sound monotonous if you’re not paying attention. Closing masterstroke “The Purifire”3 makes up for these perceived defects by offering hugely melodic black metal of a high quality that I think people were hoping for in Reinkaos albeit with growling vocals instead of shrieking. It closes on SinisTerra’s finest melodic achievement and this particular section remains as wildly exhilarating after repeat listens as it did when I first heard it.
Although our own Terra isn’t flat SinisTerra certainly is, clocking in at an unimpressive DR5. “Animalevolence”4 gets hit the hardest, with guitars, bass, drums, and keyboards doing different things all at once, forcing me to strain to hear each individual part through a loud cluster of music. It also seems to be perpetually this close to redlining, which makes for a less than ideal sound. Nevertheless, it’s not detrimental enough to harm my enjoyment of SinisTerra, but a better production would have without a doubt made the record more enjoyable. Mightiest have given us an entertaining take on melodic black metal that manages to bring on plenty of Swedish style goodness without sounding like a mediocre Storm of the Light’s Bane or Slaughtersun clone in the process. Whatever’s left of their future should be plenty good, and thanks to SinisTerra I’ll be listening.