I was hugely impressed with Sinsistro’s previous album “Semente” (2016), as was my fellow reviewer and friend Erik from The Netherlands and no doubt many others who heard it. Broadly gothic at its heart, it exuded sheer dark power. So I had great hopes for “Sangue Cássia”, the Portuguese quintets latest opus.

Boldly, the album opens with an eleven minute monster “Cosmos Controle”. This of course gives the band the time to explore and develop dark places. The mood is sullen as pitch-dark haunting tones fill the air. A post metal type guitar ring sounds as if it won’t go away. Woozy and bleak, the tempo slows down discreetly to the point where it is funereal. The female singer’s voice is distant as and as ever haunting, but also disturbing. “Lotus” takes a further depressive step and has the sound of a crumbling old building. The rich female voice reflects the bleak doominess. It’s spooky but I found myself hanging in there. Moody symphonic gloom characterise “Petalas” (Petals) but what brings this together are the painful drums and the cloud-high vocals.

The more I listened to this album, the more I felt dragged down. Sure, sombre and melancholy are matched by mood and suggestive beauty, but this is a depressing affair. This is the nature and I wouldn’t expect anything different, but it’s as if Sinistro have set out to fill the room with gloomy dark vibes only. They do this very well, but I don’t think they have surpassed “Semente”. Yet they continue to delight with subtle transformations and passages. From the soft and liquidic “Vento Sul” (South Wind), an altogether more doomy black tone emerges on “Abismo” (Abyss). The lady enters the scene and injects her dreamy magic in conjunction with the slow and weighty instrumentals. These instrumentals are pared down, allowing her to become more striking, before the heavy atmosphere bears down on us some more. “Hauntingly lush and beautifully dark” is how the band themselves describe this. I don’t know what the lyrics are about as they’re in Portuguese but I did pick up on (translated) “I don’t know if I exist between the river and the sea” on “Nuvem” (A Cloud). There is a spiritual quality about the gloom, now and then broken by heavy darkness but the dark and dreamy pattern rarely changes. “Cravo Carne” starts dangerously but it reverts to type and we find ourselves in the customary shadowy cavern with the occasional excursion into morbidly doom-like territory.

The dark clouds which Sinistro create are impressive. There’s no doubt about that. At times “Sangue Cássia” is music to fall to sleep to, and I didn’t find it had the level of creativity as its predecessor, yet at times it is powerful, dreamy and darkly spiritual. “Sangue Cássia” is like a collection of black gothic lullabies.

(7/10 Andrew Doherty)