I thought it would be a fun way to start my 2016 year in reviews with some musings about the apocalypse. And what better soundtrack to that than doom metal? Well, post-doom metal of course! When thinking about doom metal we must think of end times. Erupting lava pits, bursting nuclear power plants, collapsing economies, wars, famine, diseases, death. So when thinking about post-doom metal, one should envision the aftermath of such a disaster: absolute scorched earth, a post nuclear graveyard where few things are born…except perhaps Cormac McCarthy novels. And the finest in slowburning avant-garde metal of course!
For in this desolate landscape two exciting entities have just released their new albums: Lisbon, Portugal’s female-fronted surprise Sinistro, and Chicago’s all-star collective Bloodiest. The two bands are unique and self-minded but they do have three things in common: they make slow and creepy post-apocalyptic music, they both use strictly clean vocals, and they will both absolutely blow your mind.
Let’s start closest to home with a band you might already have heard about: Chicago’s Bloodiest. The band’s debut album Descent was one of the most rewarding heavy listening experiences when it came out five years ago in 2011. Its brooding tribal sound, and Bruce Lamont’s (Yakuza) shamanistic chants made it a quite singular affair that was impossible to pigeonhole and even harder to get away from. Needless to say this self-titled follow-up was quit high up the most anticipated records list this year, and it does not disappoint.
Bloodiest is heavier, and a bit less contemplative than Descent, and the name Tool pops up quite a few times during the initial listening encounter. Bloodiest however is quirkier, quite a lot more angular, and unfathomably harder to get into than Maynard James’s superhero cult. It does make it twice as rewarding once you “get it” though, and the landscapes of ashes and desolation start filing by while Lamont’s lamentations tighten their grip around your throat and drag you deeper into the maelstrom of this dark, dark, music.
Sinistro’s weird mixture of styles is in fact quite a lot easier to digest, even though the facts speak against that. One of the things Portugal is known for is Fado: a classical style of singing that usually expresses a lot of melancholy and sadness. It was even added to the UNESCO list of cultural heritage. Sinistro take their Portuguese Fado roots and melt them seemingly effortlessly with heavy doom guitars. Perhaps even the most striking thing they did is transcending the pitfall of overstatement, which would have turned them into just another Euro-goth female-fronted metal atrocity. In stead in all their heaviness and doom metal theatricality Sinistro sound believable and human. Patricia Andrade’s voice is one of a kind and it really drives the otherwise not that spectacular music up to a completely different level. I mean, how often can you catch yourself thinking about Portishead when listening to metal? Do you still often yearningly spin that one-off Battle Of Mice record? Sinistro is here to fix all of that, and more, and at the very least until that freshly announced Julie Christmas/Cult Of Luna collaboration comes through.
The end of days is coming folks, we better get used to that little factoid. It is better to look beyond our timely demise and see the silver linings of the mushroom cloud: for the desolate times after the end Bloodiest and Sinistro are two prophets of post-doom that have already created one HELL of a soundtrack…enjoy it while you still can!