SINISTER began their career in 1988, but their first record wasn't released before 1992. Four years of practicing sure helped "Cross The Styx", their debut, sound professional. SINISTER released "Diabolical Summoning" the year after and I remember walking 6 kilometres to get it (That's both ways summed). While "Diabolical Summoning" isn't an awesome Death Metal album, I still hold a special place for it. The reason for that is because it was one of the first CDs I bought with my own money. SINISTER peaked with "Hate", as this is, in my opinion, the ultimate SINISTER line-up. Bart playing the guitar his own special way, Mike screaming like bloody hell and Aad beating the hell out of the skins. "Aggressive Measure", released in 1998, stands for me as SINISTER's swansong, although a mighty good one. At this time Mike had left the band and after "Aggressive Measures" Bart left as well. These departures left wounds SINISTER would never heal from and it's a shame that the late era SINISTER somewhat taunted the bands discography. It seemed that the only thing special about SINISTER at the end of their career, was their vocalist. Having a woman doing the growled vocals sure raised some brows. It would be an exaggeration to say that growling females are common these days, but at least it's not that rare anymore.
Let's forget the mediocre SINISTER albums and concentrate on "Hate". The title is short, somewhat powerful. The album art is quite classy, promising indeed. Even the intro on this one is good, setting the atmosphere just right. It's starts with the creaking of a door, the door into Hell most likely. Mike chants some words that sound just right, in fact it reminds me of David Vincent on MORBID ANGEL's "Altars Of Madness". The intro is followed by the excellent "Awaiting The Absu", a rather lenghty track considering the type of music being played. Just listen to the guitar of Bart, there's always something happening and even better, it's always aggressive. "Hate" and especially "Awaiting The Absu", contains some atmospheric passages that helps creating sonic evilness, injecting a certain Black Metal feel into the album. The brother of a friend of mine, a Black Metaller hating Death Metal, got himself a surprise when hearing "Hate", he liked it. I'm writing this because I want to state that SINISTER have successfully created atmospheres with a minimal use of keyboards and such. The unexampled Bart rips through every song with a passion almost unequalled, creating nearly all the atmosphere through his strings. Mike has a really meaty voice that, even though it's really gruff, makes sure every word is easy hearable, quite a task. Aad has this peculiar drum sound, it almost sounds sloppy sometimes, but it never sounds bad, it's just another part of this albums unique sound. The lyrics, of course, deals with death and destruction, what other words could ever fit to music this savage? SINISTER may deal with familiar themes, but at least they do it well.
I'll end this review by naming my favourite songs of the album. The ones are the aforementioned "Awaiting The Absu" and in addition I want to add "To Mega Therion". What's important to remember though, is that each Death head will find their own favourite on this one, because all of the songs belongs to the Death Metal elite. Everyone that holds Death Metal high and haven't heard "Hate", have certainly missed something, this ones mandatory. (Online May 15, 2005)