Sinister Afterburner

Often counted with Asphyx and Pestilence as one of the great death bands from the Netherlands, Sinister were also one of the very few to feature a female vocalist — Rachel Heyzer — on their last two albums. After 2003’s Savage or Grace, the band called it quits after 15 years, but last year, the band reformed with a new line-up: founding member Aad Kloosterwaard comes out from behind the traps to offer lead vocals, long-time bassist Alex Paul switches to guitar, and a newbie rhythm section of bassist Bas van der Gogaard and drummer Paul Beltman round out the group. Despite Sinister’s releasing totally solid yet critically underappreciated albums, the new Afterburner fully delivers the growling goods. They flirt with several different sub-genres throughout the album, which works to the band’s advantage: "The Grey Massacre” is mid-paced death; "Presage of the Mindless” has a doomier, Six Feet Under-esque swing; "Flesh of the Servant” recalls the Egyptian slant of Nile; and "Men Down” features voice samples from the war movie Patton. A few songs bleed into each other — "Altruistic Suicide,” "The Riot Crossfire” and the title track — and thus lose their individualities. Even though they’ve overhauled the entire band, Sinister emerge on top with an updated sound that doesn’t deviate too far from their classic death rumble. Instead, Afterburner shows a revitalised band that’s doing what they do best. (Candlelight)