Released: 2009, Shadow Kingdom Records
Reviewer: Luxi Lahtinen
Sinister Realm, from Allentown, Pennsylvania, USA, is a new acquaintance to me. The band was formed just last year by bassist John Gaffney and drummer Darin McCloskey, and the band line-up was soon completed by the 3 other fellows.
After circulating their 4-track demo to various labels via the internet, Sinister Realm finally ended up signing a deal with Shadow Kingdom Records, and the first fruit of this cooperation is the band´s self-titled, 9-track album, that came out almost just recently.
The band claim to draw their influences from some of the 80s heavy metal giants, like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, Dio and such. After spinning their disc actively in my CD-player, I feel like I have no problem subscribing to the list of Sinister Realm´s main influences musically, not at all. The band can truly reflect musically the times when some killer yet classic heavy metal were churned out, naturally bands like Sabbath, Maiden, Priest, etc. being in the front line. There´s Sabbath´s heaviness and gloominess, Maiden´s catchy melodies, Priest´s straightforwardness, etc. – all mirrored through this very pleasingly sounding opus, and you just cannot help liking it if you are a fan of the mightiness of 80s pure heavy metal. Also, bands like both Solitude Aeturnus and Candlemass have obviously played an important role when the guys in Sinister Realm have been open for different inspirations, band-wise at least. Do I hear some fair Candlemass worshipping in “Message from Beyond”? I guess I do.
The band´s concept to go back to the roots of 80s metal, has turned out in a really nice way on this record. It would make no difference if someone told me this album was already recorded some 20 years ago as Sinister Realm can truly sound deceptively like an old school heavy metal band, with all those 80s metal icons sticking through their songs. I do not know if the guys in Sinister Realm have done it on purpose, but the opening song, “(The Oracle) into the Depths of Hell”, imitates clearly the opening riffs and rhythms of a Diamond Head song “Am I Evil?”. Whether it was done on purpose or not, I think it is a clever call from the Sinister Realm camp to show right away what they are all about.
Vocalist Alex Kristof undoubtedly gets lots of attention from people by having a really strong and charismatic heavy metal voice. He´s definitely one of the most impressive and powerful heavy metal vocalists that I have had the pleasure to become familiar with lately; being without question a true carrying force of the band. And when the back-up support is provided as a fine and professional way as his band mates do – offering a good backbone of piercing riffages, smoothly running, mid-paced tempo and rhythm changes, mind-sticking and tastefully done solos – and just all this, the whole CD starts reeking of greatness of heavy metal real soon.
Now do a favor to yourself and just grab a copy of this release in order to support this fine heavy metal band Sinister Realm. Maybe you can still be considered my friend when doing so…