This Dutch sextet’s promo blurb describes their debut as a “72-minute long musical narration through darkness and light, hope and despair”. Within they pummel the listener with a combination of sludge-packed crush, barren post-hardcore and black metal affectations before soothing them with post-rock atmospherics. Through the use and abuse of multi-part songs, rammed with attack-and-release theatrics, gentle ebb and flow, recycling arpeggios and an array of harmonies and tones they paint a sinister picture of a world gone awry.
“Indefinite Instinct” opens to a battering gale-force wind, before ticking over into hollowed-out, reverb-loaded, gargling roars. As the bass finally kicks in the space floods with colour and the track comes alive. There are the first rumblings of emotional discord as taped newsreels are freed to paint the canvass with real anguish and torment. We get a man protesting his innocence (“I don’t know what crime I’m supposed to have committed”) as the Cult Of Luna-esque progressions build layers in the background. “Demise, demise” roars the vocalist Sierk Entius as a series of effects and radio signal scrawl bring the piece to a close.
Considering his past experience, it seems reasonable to assume that producer Jochem Jacobs (ex-Textures) may have had something to do with the repeating themes that feature and he certainly handles the eclectic and complex layering with aplomb. There are shocks in store like the sudden, aggressive attack that mark out “Duality” and “Finite Horizon”. The former, themed around the horrorshow that was the Unabomber, utilises industrial drumbeats and Cavalera-esque groove that acquiesces to reveal a sinister background thrum. It is all so reminiscent of the dark progressions that feeds the music of No Made Sense and Kongh. “Finite Horizon”s groove rapidly decays into a screwy pattern of ISIS-esque clean vocal harmonies and tones, panicked riffs and tribal rhythms. Finding something for your senses to acclimatise to does become a chore when the ground beneath your feet moves so often. It seems a shame when each constituent part alone, would be so effective.
Thankfully, the 30-minute title-track properly hunkers down to fully dissect a singular concept. Here the story of a sobbing couple torn from each other’s arms yanks at your heart – “We belong together!”. There are strong black metal overtones with continuous double-kick and Dalek-like, atonal shrieks before the body of the track moves into elegant slow motion. At 20 minutes there are trumpets and a gentle deconstruction into radio scrawl, feedback, roaring amps and whale sound. It is the equivalent of the band leaving the stage only to return to play out a warm wash until “lights out”.
Sistere is a fearless debut that strides along exuding an elegant majesty. The band’s ability to combine sounds and feed each one into their melancholic concept is impressive. All the while they dig into their disturbing box of tricks improving the flow and engendering a sense of purpose. All this proves just how in control of their own destiny they truly are. Nordvis have bagged another winner here.
(7.5 John Skibeat)