Siniestro – Vortexx Review

Thrash was my first true introduction to all things metal. Like many of the morally derelict denizens who write for this site or haunt the comment section, I dipped my toe in the swamp with Sabbath, but it wasn’t until I took a deep dive into the likes of Testament, Kreator, Slayer and Anthrax that I knew I was more than willing to drown in this sea of riffs n’ roars. Though now I now prefer my metal far more fetid, thrash still holds a special place in my heart. This led me to pluck the latest from blackened thrash outfit Siniestro from the oft-mentioned but rarely-survived primordial promo sump. Separated by a little over 8,000 miles, this duo are more than eager to bridge that geographic divide on Vortexx, their second full-length. But do this sinister pair pull it off? Tighten your trusty bullet belt and let’s find out.

The promo material emphasizes the distance between bandmates as integral to Siniestro’s sound. Vocalist, guitarist and bassist Commander hails from “the cold, dark and harsh conditions above the arctic circle in Sweden.” Meanwhile, drummer The Machine (his moniker, not an on-the-nose reference to any pre-programed thumping) calls “the exotic fire, passion and pulse of Santiago, Chile” home. Perhaps crazier than any adjective-laced promotional text though is the fact that this melding is indeed clearly present on Vortexx, from the Cavaleran barks interspersed with Black metal shrieks to the interplay between frigid tremolos and fiery, crunchy riffs. You may not have signed up for a lesson on cultural exchanges, but here, it’s hard to ignore. And unlike the U.N. Security Council, Siniestro isn’t kind enough to give your neck veto power. 

“They’re from different countries,” I can hear you writing in the comments. “Who cares? Did you actually like it?” First of all, don’t start rage-posting until you’ve read the entire review. And secondly, yes, I did. While Siniestro aren’t breaking any new ground, Vortexx churns out solid blackened thrash and does it well, with a few added flourishes. Opening track “One Last Bullet, One Last Ride” and follow up “Vortex” pack a wallop, with enough thrashy riffs, BM edge and catchy choruses to get your head banging and your Doc Marten-adorned toe tapping. there’s a surprising melodicism to Commander’s throat-shredding bellows that keep the vocals from the kind of monotony that can plague otherwise solid albums. And just when you think you know what to expect, here comes “Blod eld död” (all proceeds go to the Bathory Appreciated Society) and “Den svartaste flamman och renaste hat.” Unlike more straightforward tracks, these two are far more melodic, unexpectedly epic and sung in Swedish. These additions, coupled with the flamenco-inspired instrumental “Hiisi” and touches of memorable, squealing guitar work throughout make for a truly fun, engaging listen.

That being said, I hope Siniestro rethink how they bring their next opus to a close. While I enjoy the penultimate, nearly ten-minutes of “Anti-Human Commando” more than I should thanks to solid riffs, enjoyable guitar work and heaps of well-earned melody, placing this hefty track right before a lengthy, closing instrumental seems at odds with the preceding 9 tracks. It doesn’t help matters that the tune seems to come out of left field; think less dynamic and more dirge. “My Innermost Sun” is a slow, plodding church organ solo, clocking in at almost 5 minutes. Do I listen to it every time I spin Vortexx? I do. Do I think both the instrument and the placement could have been used to better effect? Most definitely.

I wasn’t expecting to enjoy Vortexx as much as I did. Having a soft spot for well-crafted thrash has made me picky when it comes to embracing another 80s worshiping slab o’ shred. Luckily, Siniestro throw a few well-timed curveballs while keeping their proverbial nose to the blackened thrash grindstone, dishing out plenty of tasty riffs, mighty vocals, and engaging songs, all in under 45 minutes. In a world overrun with thrashtastic clones, this Chilean/Swedish duo have proven their ability to keep the listener engaged and eager to come back for more. I’ve fallen through the vortex, my 2.0/2.5 rating record be damned.


 

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 10 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Black Lodge
Websites: siniestro.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/siniestrosweden
Releases Worldwide: May 14th, 2021

« »