SINISTER REALM, Sinister Realm (2008 demo)

The skull:
A tasteful pen and ink skull with wings. Actually, on closer inspection, are those wings or an imperially windswept skullet of the most literal kind? Either way, what are all the scribbly doodles in the background? This is a nice but incredibly generic image, better suited to a motorcycle club logo/backpatch than an album cover, even if it’s only a demo. Then again, who has money for proper and meaningful art before landing a lucrative deal with a deep-pocketed heavy metal record label?

The music:
Sinister Realm are from around my neck of the woods, and I’ve seen them live a number of times. I haven’t been able to locate a copy of the demo to review, but I believe I streamed it when it was new, and I’ve heard all of these songs live and on the band’s self-titled debut (which also features a wicked skull, even if it’s not quite big enough). Their traditional metal with flashes of ploddy doom can get old rather quickly on stage, but on disc, it works, more or less. Like an Americanized Candlemass, Sinister Realm trade in Sabbathy riffs and full-throated operatic vocals, with the added touch of some Maidenesque guitar harmonies. At times, not much distinguishes one song from the next, especially in the vocal melodies (an endemic problem of doom, in this Friar’s opinion), but Sinister Realm are just good enough on their instruments, at the mic, and in the studio that the occasionally lackluster songwriting is hidden under a sheen of professionalism. For a band that’s often tacked onto the bill of touring acts I want to see, this is about as good as I could possibly hope for.
— Friar Johnsen

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