Sencirow - The nightmare within 4.5/5

Reviewed: 3-14-08


1. The phenomenon of frugality
2. Demon inside
3. Palace of bones
4. Curse of lying
5. The beggar's estate
6. World collapse
7. Feeding the rage
8. Deliver me from pain
9. Bullet to the head
10. Gods creation failed
11. The nightmare within

Germany's Sencirow have ranked (along with Sabaton, Stormwarrior, Tyr, and a few others) among my favorite new musical discoveries of the last several years. I originally rated their 2005 debut CD, 'Perception of fear', a strong 4/5, but numerous listens in the intervening period have convinced me that it's even better than that. If I were rating that CD anew today, it'd get a 4.5/5 and perhaps even flirt with the mythical 5/5 score (as only CDs that stand the test of time can). So enraptured by 'Perception of fear' was I that I contacted band leader Kensington last year to order some band merchandise from across the Atlantic Ocean. Kensington was very kind and accommodating, actually sending the goodies twice after the first set was misplaced for several weeks by DHL (so much for German efficiency) in international transit. All of which is to say that I regard Sencirow as a truly special band, and have been sitting on pins and needles waiting for their all-important sophomore CD. Now here it is, in the form of the 'The nightmare within' opus released on Pure Steel Records, who wisely stepped in after Sencirow parted ways with AFM.

Those expecting 'Perception of fear' redux may be in for a bit of a surprise. To be sure, Sencirow still play a brand of heavy-duty thrashy German power metal sounding like recent Rage at their absolute heaviest, Mystic Prophecy, Brainstorm, thrashy Iron Savior, Paragon and the like. Kensington still sings like a pissed-off Peavy Wagner with a head cold. And the band continue with their quest to find the perfect balance of brute-force heaviness and killer melodies. But here's what's different: Everything is a notch darker, heavier, and more aggressive this time around. The menacing, almost completely black cover art sets the tone, depicting the silhouette of the grim reaper throttling some poor slob in a darkened misty cemetery. That image spills over into the music as well, as the riffs are harder, thrashier and more unrelenting than before. Don't get me wrong: It's not a drastic sonic departure, but it is a noticeable tweak, like 'Perception of fear' in a state of 'roid rage.

The result is that 'The nightmare within' is a less immediate CD than the debut. The fantastic Sencirow hooks and melodies are still there in abundance, but the listener has to work just a little harder to unlock them this time around. Although I received this CD very recently, I have spent the last few days immersing myself in it. After giving the tunes some time to sink in, I am convinced that 'The nightmare within' has fully met my lofty expectations. My favorite songs are still fluctuating with each listen (always a sign of a consistently strong CD), but I count at least 6 bona fide hammers: the speed feast of "Bullet to the head", the unbelievably catchy "Curse of lying", the decidedly Rageous (to quote Peavy) "Feeding the rage", the slightly subdued title track, the battering ram "Palace of bones", and the shape-shifting ballad-to-frenzied "Deliver me from pain". There are no weak tracks, though, with only the somewhat awkward bass-line verses of "The beggar's estate" seeming a bit forced.

With 'The nightmare within,' Sencirow have cemented their status as a rising star from Deutschland and have vaulted to the forefront of the talented Pure Steel Records roster. They have remained true to their sound and style, while displaying just enough progression and innovation to silence any cries of repetition. Fans of well-written, well-executed thrashy German power metal with a knack for superb melodies will swoon over this CD. 'The nightmare within' obliterates any vestiges of doubt that Sencirow are ready for the big leagues, right now.




MAIN - A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L - M - N - O - P - Q - R - S - T - U - V - W - X - Y - Z - MISC