SinistroSinistro by name, sinistro by nature. “Semente” (Seed) is the Portuguese band’s third album, and it is as if an artist were painting black canvases. Leaden-heavy in a post metal way, disturbing yet with soft background patterns and a female vocalist sounding as if she’s from another planet”: this is an intriguing affair. The lady, whose voice and control has shades of Anneke van Giesbergen, heightens the already atmospheric scene.

The opener “Partida” (Match) starts doomily and when you think it’s not going to get darker, it expands into a creepy spoken passage. What becomes quickly noticeable is the developing patterns of these gothic slabs, which find themselves intensified by the vocalist’s mystic tones. She whispers and sings angelically as the guitarist plays a darkly minimalist tune, yet there is a further layer of vibrant suggestiveness hiding in the background. From this gloomy but intriguing soundscape, “Estrada” (Road) now expands into epic, even post-metal territory, continuing this vibe into the patient “Corpo Presente” (This Body). The lady’s voice has an Eastern mysticism about it. Sinistro’s whole sound is so haunting. So haunting in fact that it sounds as if ghosts have come out of the woodwork. Meanwhile the guitarist plays on patiently. The shuffling drum beat of the title track recalls the spooky trip hop of Netra. Moody and dark, the lady takes us to breathtaking emotional heights. But moods and emotional heights are what this band. Instrumentals and vocals fuse on the electrifyingly sullen “Reliquia” (Relic). Electronic waves quiet throb through the echoes of the angel, but as ever the atmosphere is immense and crushing. Progress is patient. The clouds are dark. The shimmering and shadowy “A Visita” (The Visit) passes, leaving the equally mystical “Fragmento” (Fragment) to twist and turn its way through the heavy gloom-laden world, which Sinistro have made their business to present to us.

Each of these dark songs has character and magnetic force. It would be easy to write this album off as gothic, which it is, but “Semente” is an album of such immense power and emotional appeal that its impact is to touch the nerve ends.

(9/10 Andrew doherty)