Portgual’s Sinistro certainly know how to cultivate atmosphere. This is the operant word for the project, although various terms and descriptors came to mind as I listened and re-listened to their new record “Sangue Cassia”. To that end, a few terms kept asserting themselves time and time again in my notes. I want to use these as the crux of this review, as the prospective listener’s enjoyment of this work will hinge upon a certain familiarity with certain genre characteristics.
First and foremost, the record bristles with a thick and soupy density of sound. The production quality herein and the separation of the instruments lends an overall sense of gloom and shadow to the proceedings that hang like heavy fog. This coupled with the emotion in singer Patricia Andrade’s vocal performances really sell this dark vibe well, and the sense of gravity overcomes any language barrier that may otherwise exist. The vocals are a highlight, and serve the palate of the music well, and vice versa.
With that said, music that aims to be as cinematic and emotive as this, and also seeks to keep the pace glacial and contemplative, runs the risk of wearing out its welcome rather quickly if the listener isn’t interested in textural change over time. I struggle with this, although I appreciate and respect the intent of the band’s post rock/metal leanings and gothic, doom metal core. Doom on the whole is a hard sub-genre for me to really get into, especially in album format, as I find personally that compositions such as “Sangue Cassia”‘s are best digested in small doses, although I am sure Doom purists will revel in the sludge which is amply and deftly on display here.
The pace is deliberate and measured, which is at once the record’s greatest strength and also, in my opinion, a weakness. Although attempts are made to add different elements and instrumentation to the mix, certain sections began to blend together at times, and I found myself craving a bit more rhythmic variation (again, not the point of this particular style, and this was taken in to consideration).
Conversely, I found, during my repeated listens, more and more understated elements coming to the fore which weren’t immediately recognizable upon first listen, and I appreciated these nuances and attention to detail overall. The record is quite layered, and can be dynamic, although the focus if distinctly on compositional development over time. This, coupled with the pace will be the prospective listener’s largest obstacle in getting into the band, and I still struggle with it. Those who choose to meet the music on its own terms will be greeted by an effort that exudes confidence and skill, albeit one that takes its time in reaching the peaks and valleys it chases.
Overall, a solid effort from a very talented Portugese band, which itself is largely an underrepresented entity in the metal world. “Sangue Cassia” is not a record for everyone, and I still crave a bit more diversity in the songwriting and tempo department but Doom and Atmospheric metal fans in search of heaviness and soaring vocals will find a lot to like.
- Cosmos Control
- Vento Sul
- Cravo Carne
- Nothing Sacred (Paradise Lost Cover)
Label: Season of Mist
Release Date: 5 January 2018