Sinister’s lost year and under-appreciated second coming

Too many people take Sinister for granted. The death metal veterans have been around long enough to become a household name, and the first three albums are undeniable classics, but many stop there. That’s a real shame because the band — revolving around founding member and last man standing, Aad Kloosterwaard — has quietly, steadfastly built one of the largest, densest, and most consistent catalogs in all of death metal. And what’s most surprising is how much of it is recent, with seven of their 13 albums arriving 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 — 2004 to 2005

By the time the original band ended in 2004, 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 — vocalist Rachel van Heyzer, Ron, bassist Alex Paul, and Aad — lasted only a few months before officially hanging it up in April ’04. 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 Sinister

Taken from Apeshit.org

So from the ashes of Sinister would grow Infinited Hate.

Infinited Hate

Rachel, Ron and Aad regrouped under this new name with the idea of having a fresh drummer for each album. Aad vacated the kit and took up “Effect Vokills” beside Rachel for the band’s debut, Revel In Bloodshed (2004, Displeased Records), and its followup, Heaven Termination (2005, Displeased Records) — the latter of which featured Dirk Verbueren on drums.

Rachel left sometime after Heaven Termination, leaving Aad to handle vocals alone, and drummer Paul Beltman took the throne for the band’s third and final 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

Sinister, “Gods of the Abyss” (2017, Vic Records)

The Vic Records connection is interesting, because that label released a Sinister EP called Gods of the Abyss in 2017. It contained four songs that had appeared a decade earlier on 2006’s Afterburner. Why release these songs again? 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 Gods of the Abyss 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 second 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 has delivered six full-length albums with them. They’ve also released an album of covers (Dark Memorials), an anthology of demos (The Blood Past), a box set (Altered Since Birth) with other partners.

Since reforming, the lineup has changed every few years:

“Altered Since Birth,” indeed. Courtesy of Wikipedia

Somehow, in spite of all the different people contributing to the band’s records, the music is almost always identifiably Sinister. It’s a bit more epic here, a bit melodic there, but at its heart, this is still knotty, complex death metal that’s brutal without being “brootal” and technical without being “technical death metal.”

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-1995 Sinister goodness to be had. Their most recent release — 2020’s Deformation of the Holy Realm — is a great place to start.

Sinister, Deformation of the Holy Realm (2020 Massacre Records)

Addendums

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.

Fun Fact

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.