Sinister Realm - The crystal eye 3/5

Reviewed: 9-1-11


1. Winds of vengeance
2. Tormentor (Deliver us)
3. With swords held high
4. The crystal eye
5. Signal the earth
6. Shroud of misery
7. Battle for the Sinister Realm
8. The tower is burning

Allentown's own shroud of turgid, yet torpid misery and ruination - Sinister Realm - brought down the final nylon curtain with their beleaguered, orotund anthems of impending doom, when they corniced us with copious amounts of gloomy ambience on their debut, nigh 2 year ago.

Their profane omens troubled even the most feral of those seeking penance, and eternal solitude. Their haunting, black mass hysterical chords descried vain hope for those lost souls holding a waning candle in the void of darkness. Now with swords held high, as we gaze into 'The crystal eye', these souls seekers rent the veil of disguise and aim for a more traditional path down the sheltered, brick road; seeking the dark cloud's vanilla lining.

For this, their sophomore release for Shadow Kingdom Records, bands like Warlord, Manilla Road, Omen, Jag Panzer, Liege Lord, and their ilk of inhuman binding influence have seeped into the pores of the pallid.

New guitarist John Risko and drummer Chris Metzger have been added to the fold creating a more solid songwriting companionship with accomplished musicians John Kantner and John Shamus Gaffney still providing the backdrop of tears and torment. Viscid vocalist Alex Kristof chooses to not resonate with his capable falsetto, but maintains his somber articulations and acrid tone; similar to Mark "The Shark" Shelton or John Falzone of Steel Assassin.

"Winds of vengeance" is a great opener and a solid rocker in the classic Mercyful fate meets Oz zeal. Fans of In Solitude, Noctum, Portrait, (now all signed to Metal Blade), or other acts like A Tortured Soul, Argus, and November's Doom will appreciate this heavy vibe, with upbeat potential, yet ultimate pending despair. The grandiose closer "The tower is burning" builds with a mammoth wall of frustration, that following another piquant, melodious instrumental is an befitting way to end this sojourn of slaying delight held by the helm of the sinister.

One picayune point, is that 8 songs in just not enough for this CD. Sure you have the majestic battle roar of "With swords held high", and the bewitching fright night sting of "Shroud of misery"; which offset the title track and stellar mastered malice rush of "Signal the earth"; however, on their debut their were 9 lethal cuts, and all of them showed promise.

Songs like "Machine god" and "Mongol horde" delved more into the beast that is Priest. A vicious cut like "March of the damned" balanced perfect on the sling blade of terror and defiance. Why would these overlords of torture want to obfuscate their fan base, when they can macerate us with more meaty, juicy, and esculent affirmations?

Altogether, with 2 CDs, minus 2 well-written instrumentals, we have a total of only 15 songs, which is not too bad for a band only in existence less than half a decade. By comparison, this CD is on even keel with the debut, and is still a worthy follow-up of bare bones, no nonsense, traditional metal.

Here is hoping that on the next journey into imagination, these dream weavers mold more memorable songs, return replete with more of those impressive solos, and endeavour to create more thrumming salmagundi in an age of mawkish and merciless ersatz and an indecorous lack of spontaneity.




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