Sinister Realm - Sinister Realm
Shadow Kingdom Records
Traditional Epic Doom
9 songs (46'04")
Release year: 2009
Shadow Kingdom Records
Reviewed by Adam
Album of the month
If you call yourself a doom fan, I sincerely hope you have been indulging yourself with the recent releases of Shadow Kingdom Records. With stellar albums by all-timers such as Iron Man and Revelation to stand alongside promising newcomers like Argus, this is a label that has embedded itself permanently on my radar. Because of this, I pretty much have high hopes for any doom release from them. However, even with that added expectation, I have to say I have been floored yet again, this time by the debut self-titled from Sinister Realm.

Sinister Realm does have a nice pedigree, as the band was founded by ex-Pale Divine guitarist John Gaffney and current Pale Divine drummer Darin McCloskey. Pale Divine is, ahem, divine in their own right, but listening to Gaffney and McCloskey’s prior work would not give you any indication of the sound to be found on this epic doom gem. This album serves as an introduction to newcomer Alex Kristof, who handles the vocals. My first question upon hearing him unleash his pipes in the opening track (The Oracle) Into the Depths of Hell was, “Where did they find this guy”? His soaring and smooth vocals put him right up there with the best the genre has to offer if you ask me. I honestly don’t say this lightly; I can count on one hand the guys in his class right now. I haven’t even touched on the guitar work yet, which is also excellent and exudes a real 80's heavy metal atmosphere. The dueling and sometimes harmonized attack on the opener is just outstanding, with well-placed leads and charging riffs throughout. This momentum carries on, and is actually enhanced, by the next track Machine God. Kristof’s vocals are even more grandiose, and, coupled with a pounding main riff attack, this song is the very definition of epic doom. Really, I don’t want to touch on many of the other tracks because that would take away valuable time that you should be using to click on the link below to buy this album and experience Sinister Realm for yourself. Seriously, the only tracks that I would rate less than excellent are March of the Damned and The Nihilist, and even then it is only a matter of personal taste since I did not find myself enjoying the riffs as much as the other songs. On the positive side, I do want to give mention to Message from Beyond and the instrumental Enter the Sinister Realm, which are both stunningly awesome. The former is the highlight of the album for me, with heavy and dark riffs that fit perfectly with the powerful vocal performance. The cherry on top is a razor sharp solo that any old school metal fan will applaud. The instrumental is just a further testament to how musically talented these guys are. You may find yourself focusing on Kristof’s vocals on most tracks, but this instrumental is prime evidence that the rhythm section is certainly no slouch, as it overflowing with engaging riffs and searing leads.

I would tag this album “Surprise of the Month” if I wasn’t busy tagging it as “Album of the Month” instead. It is rare that the first album of a band sounds this polished. Sinister Realm sound like they have been around for years and have a chemistry you can really hear. It is even more rare that a debut album vaults a band straight to the upper echelon of their genre, but this album does precisely that. For fans of traditional epic doom, ala Candlemass, this is an absolute must buy, though I would recommend it to fans of traditional heavy metal as well. Another home run for Shadow Kingdom Records.
Killing Songs :
(The Oracle) Into the Depths of Hell, Machine God, Message from Beyond
Adam quoted 91 / 100
Other albums by Sinister Realm that we have reviewed:
Sinister Realm - World of Evil reviewed by Andy and quoted 85 / 100
Sinister Realm - The Crystal Eye reviewed by Alex and quoted 85 / 100
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