Too many people overlook Sinister. The death metal veterans been around long enough to become a household name, and the first three albums are undeniable classics, but a lot of folks stop there. That’s a real shame because the band — revolving around founding member and last man standing, Aad Kloosterwaard — has quietly, steadfastly churned out one of the largest, densest, and most consistent catalogs in all of death metal. And what’s most surprising is how much of that catalog is recent, with seven of their 13 albums coming post-reformation, and five of those in the last 10 years.
Sinister, Era I — Late ’80s to 2003
This is the stuff most of us know, with three bonafide classics right out the gate. We’re skipping that to focus on what came after…
Hiatus — 2003 to 2005
By the time the original band ended in 2003, it was hardly “original” as drummer Aad Kloosterwaard was the only founding member left. Long-time guitarist Bart van Wallenberg had just left, soon replaced by Sinister’s original guitarist Ron van de Polder. The revamped lineup — Aad, Ron, bassist Alex Paul and vocalist Rachel van Herzel— lasted only a few months before officially hanging it up. Thanks to an ancient post on Apeshit.org, we have Aad’s announcement of the split:
After 16 years of serving, SINISTER is no more……………
It was a hard decision for me, SINISTER was a way of life for me. But sitting behind the drumkit for almost 20 years and having a fulltime job is hard for me to combine. Of course I would love to give up my job, because I hate going to work everyday, but that’s impossible…you’ll probably know why.
First I was thinking doing vocals together with Rachel (vocals) but that wasn’t an option…thinking of someone else behind the drums, no way! Also Ron (guitars) is too busy. It was or SINISTER or INFINITED HATE… It was a hard decision to quit SINISTER and drumming believe me.
I had a great time to record Revel in Bloodshed. The upcoming album of my new band INFINITED HATE together with Rachel and Ron. If you listen to INFINITED HATE, you’ll hear SINISTER.
Thanks to all the die hard SINISTER fans all over the World!!!!!!
We hope that INFINITED HATE will bring you as much as brutality as SINISTER!!!
Aad and SinisterTaken from Apeshit.org
So from the ashes of the final Sinister lineup — Rachel, Ron, Alex & Aad — Infinited Hate emerges.
Rachel, Ron and Aad regrouped here. Aad vacated the kit and took up vocals next to Rachel for the band’s debut, Revel In Bloodshed (2004) and followup Heaven Termination (2005), both on Displeased Records. The latter featured a young Dirk Verbueren on drums. Rachel left sometime after, and drummer Paul Beltman replaced Verbueren for the band’s last album, 2007’s Orchestra of Sickness (Goregiastic Records).
After the third album, the band changed its name to Weapons to Hunt and released Blessed In Sin in 2012 on Vic Records. It’s been crickets since, but Metal Archives lists the band as active with both Paul and Aad in the lineup, so maybe they’ll pop up again.
No Face Slave
The Vic Records connection is interesting, because that label released a 4-song Sinister EP in 2017 (Gods of the Abyss) containing 4 songs that also appeared on 2006’s Afterburner. The fine print is revealing…
When Sinister split up in 2003, drummer (now vocalist) Aad Kloosterwaard and bass player (now guitarist) Alex Paul wanted to continue playing death metal somehow. They started the new band No Face Slave. The songs they wrote were so close to Sinister that they restarted Sinister together with new drummer Paul Beltman (Infinited Hate). During 2004 and 2005 they recorded four demo tracks. These tracks formed the Sinister demo 2005. That demo led to a renewed record deal with Nuclear Blast.”Taken from Metal-Archives.com
So first, the Gods of the Abyss EP is actually an unreleased 2005 demo recorded pre-Afterburner. That’s interesting enough on its own. But we also learn that when Sinister split, Aad went one direction with Rachel & Ron (Infinited Hate), and another with Alex Paul (No Face Slave), and it was No Face Slave that led to the reformation of Sinister with Alex, Aad and Paul.
Sinister, Era 2 — 2006 to present
Sinister’s reformation era kicked off with Prophecies Denied, a terrific sounding live album and beautifully pro shot DVD that showed Alex Paul was no slouch on guitar. It was quickly followed by Afterburner (2006), a sleeper gem that concluded the band’s lengthy tenure with Nuclear Blast. Sinister landed a new deal Massacre Records and delivered six more full-length albums to date.
Production on the first few records is a bit wooly, but it grows increasingly polished and modern as the years tick by. 2020’s Deformation of the Holy Realm takes a noticeable leap, landing not far removed from countrymen Severe Torture‘s last few albums. They’ve also released an album of covers (Dark Memorials), an anthology of demos (The Blood Past), a box set (Altered Since Birth), and more.
The lineup has changed every few years, but somehow the style is always identifiably Sinister. Sinister has always walked a very fine line and somehow the vast bulk of all this new material from all these new contributors manages to stay true to it. It’s interesting that after over 20 years as a single guitar band, they decided to add another guitarist in 2011. Apparently it’s working for them, because they haven’t gone back since the change.
If there’s a point to this post, it’s this: Don’t just listen to Cross the Styx, Diabolical Summoning, and Hate. There’s a wealth of post-1994 Sinister goodness.
Cosmic Key Creations reissues
Worth mentioning that many of the band’s Nuclear Blast have received beautiful vinyl reissues (multiple repressings), as well CD and cassette editions, courtesy of Europe’s Cosmic Key Creations.
I couldn’t fit this neatly in the article, but it’s too cool to leave out: Sinister’s first official recording was on Nuclear Blast’s debut release: a 4-band 7″ comp with Hypocrisy, Resurrection, and Afflicted. A little piece of death metal history.