• Revival of blackened death metal of the nineties - A review of Sinsaenum's ''Echoes of the Tortured''

    Sinsaenum - Echoes of the Tortured (2016)

    If you haven't been living under a rock over the past few months, you have already heard about Sinsaenum. This international all-star band consists of current and former members of quite different bands like DragonForce, Mayhem and Slipknot among others. Despite these diversified backgrounds, Sinsaenum plays twelve traditional death metal songs garnished with eleven short instrumentals building up a bleak atmosphere that would fit to an old horror movie. This approach has a good and a bad side. The good thing about this band is that it might surprise death metal fans with a quite solid debut record in the key of early Morbid Angel with a shot of Dark Funeral that doesn't try to include high-speed melodic guitar solos in the key of DragonForce, underground black metal stereotypes inspired by Mayhem or modern jump-core popularized by Slipknot. On the other side, ''Echoes of the Tortured'' clearly doesn't reinvent the genre or adds anything fresh to it and if it wasn't for the famous band members, this group wouldn't get a lot of attention outside of underground genre circles.

    The songs with lyrics mix menacing mid-tempo parts with throaty vocals and numerous up-tempo passages with harsh vocals. A track like ''Dead Souls'' definitely takes no prisoners and sounds like a maelstrom dragging you inside the depths of Tartarus with its fast pace, discordant guitar sounds and pitiless vocals performed on a technically stunning level. The calmer interludes like ''Lullaby'' give the occasion to enhance the record's bleak atmosphere and give the listeners welcome breaks from the madness of the main tracks. Over the course of the album, the pairing of one extreme metal track around four minutes followed by a sinister instrumental interlude around one minute gets constantly repeated and ends up getting both predictable and repetitive. Genre fans will appreciate the fact that they get value for money with twenty-three tracks and a running time of sixty-seven minutes while most listeners might rightfully criticize that the album is losing momentum and simply about fifteen to twenty minutes too long.

    Among the more remarkable tunes, one must cite ''Condemned to Suffer'' that starts like a melancholic instrumental based upon a dreamy progression of guitar melodies but slowly develops into one of the most gripping tracks on this release. Pitiless up-tempo passages and unchained vocals are mixed with short and melodic guitar solos that could come from a classic heavy metal band or gloomier upper mid-tempo parts reminding of atmospheric and progressive black and doom metal bands. This song consists of a series of excellent ideas that harmonize surprisingly well and fusions the boundless creativity of everyone involved. If you are looking for some bleak atmosphere outside the instrumental tracks, the diversified ''Anfang des Alptraums'' convinces with a bleak spoken-word middle part followed by a truly emotional black metal finish that makes you feel like assisting a black mess. This song isn't only the longest on the record but also one of the most creative, diversified and intense. The intense title song ''Echoes of the Tortured'' has a similarly efficient approach and mixes discordant up-tempo passages with sinister mid-tempo parts. If you are looking for something a little bit easier to digest, the atmospheric sound samples in its middle part, the fist-pumping chorus and the excellent extended guitar solo make the sinister ''Sacrifice'' a true hit and maybe the most accessible song on this release.

    In the end, Sinsaenum's debut release ''Echoes of the Tortured'' brings back technically stunning death metal with a touch of black metal in the key of the mid-nineties and might be one of the best genre releases of the year. Aside of the constantly bleak atmosphere, this record convinces with a creative collaborative song writing and a technically appealing performance leading to a enjoyably balanced production that suits this album very well even if underground fans might criticize this. Especially the middle section of this release from track eight to nineteen is absolutely stunning. Despite a few lengths in the beginning and towards the end and the fact that the band basically worships extreme metal of the nineties without adding fresh ideas, Sinsaenum's ''Echoes of the Tortured'' is one of the best extreme metal releases I've come across so far this year.

    Final rating: 75%

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