Sinister Realm // World of Evil
Rating: 3.5/5.0 — Manilla Ungol ain’t just a flavor at Baskins Robbins!
Label: Shadow Kingdom Records
Websites: sinisterrealm.net | myspace.com/enterthesinisterrealm
Release Dates: Out worldwide on 08.06.2013
If there’s one type of retro metal I never tire of, it’s the kind that goes for the old school, traditional, “trve metal” sound from the early 80s like Cirith Ungol and Manilla Road. Of the few bands out there using this style as a main influence, my favorite is Sinister Realm (though Argus comes really close). I really enjoyed their debut, but they raised their game bigtime for 2011s The Crystal Eye opus and it ended up one of my favorite albums of the year. Utilizing a stripped down, zero-bullshit approach with a slight epic feel and incorporating doom, NWoBHM and early America metal influences, they found a winning formula and crafted some really memorable tunes (check out “With Swords Held High” and “The Tower is Burning”). World of Evil keeps the same formula in place and they play to their strengths, giving you more muscular, testosterone-drenched metal that would have fit right in during 1982. There are some slick, engaging songs here and they wisely keep things short at forty-three minutes and though it’s not quite as polished and powerful as The Crystal Eye, it’s sure to satisfy fans of the style.
Opener “Dark Angel of Fate” is exactly the type song I want from these guys. It screams true metal and it’s simplicity is surpassed only by it’s brainless badassery. It’s the type song you have to listen to with a clenched fist and scowl as they ply you with mid-tempo, Manowar-esque tales of revenge, heroics and interstellar ass whoopings. Alex Kristof’s vocals are great and he manages to channel the macho charm of Thor (yes, THOR!), but with a much bigger range capable of Dio-like power when needed. Equally good is “Bell Strikes Fear” which borrows hugely from Mercyful Fate for the riff-patterns and basic song structure as Kristof steals the show with big singing and a big chorus.
The title track works well due to a simple, chugging, quasi-doom style, big vocals and another powerful chorus (it also has one of the all time worst videos ever…by a wide margin), while “Ghosts of Nevermore” adroitly channels old timey Crimson Glory mixed with Candlemass and Omen.
The lengthy closing track “Four Black Witches” drags on too long, but I love the Cirith Ungol guitar tones sprinkled throughout alongside Maiden-ish bass thumping and loads of interesting guitar harmonies and riff choices. The rest of World of Evil is solid and battle-ready and they never deviate from their old school focus in the slightest.
Sinister Realm is so engaging because of Alex Kristof’s vocals. He sounds like a mix or Thor, Dio and Twisted Tower Dire‘s Tony Taylor (R.I.P.). He nails the machismo needed to pull off this kind of material and though he only varies his approach slightly from song to song, he can convey different moods rather well. Also playing a huge role in the album’s success are guitarists John Risko and John Kantner. They throw around big, bruising riffs that perfectly compliment Kristof’s powerhouse vocals and they craft some brilliantly dark, moody soloing on tracks like “Prophets of War” and “Four Black Witches.” The solos are all old school and they rock the dual guitar harmonies every chance they get. The very present bass of John Gaffney rounds out the sound well with some Steve Harris gallops and ominous plucking.
I eat this kind of stuff up and I wish more bands would offer this type of “trve” metal. Sinister Realm knows how to bring the style to life again like a metal Frankenstein and they keep delivering the old school goods. If you miss the days when metal was simple, clichéd-as-hell (see album cover) and tough-as-nails, this is your Rikki Tikki Tavi. Now, put on that Manilla Road half shirt and get cvlt!