Now there’s lazy and there’s lazy but regardless of (the very good I would expect) reasons behind the 16-year gap between Berlin based Sinners Bleed’s debut album and this their second offering ‘Absolution’, it means the stakes are relatively high and pious judgement from critics just waiting to swoop down and write hackneyed opening paragraphs referencing laziness must be expected……. you’re welcome. In all seriousness, 16 years is a long time to wait for a follow up album and you’d have to imagine that the fanbase of Sinners Bleed would have given up the ghost by now and moved onto slightly more productive and prolific musical endeavours. Well if they did, they’ve made a faux pau of gigantic proportions, because ‘Absolution’ is a good ne great collection of technical death metal tunes that splashes in the shallow waters of early to mid-90’s Bay Area thrash and has a sandy foot in Scott Burn’s era Floridian Death Metal. It’s a heady, brutal and high enjoyable concoction.
As with all good death metal albums of that era, things kick off with the obligatory eerie intro, conjuring images of all kinds of darkness, beasts and brutality which is a forbearer for things to come. Actually, opening track (the marvellously named ‘Age Of The Crow’) is possible one of the weaker tracks on offer here, coming off as a slightly tired and jaundiced Obituary lite parody that nails itself into musical corners without ever having the desire to rip itself free and flail around like a blooded handed maniac. From this point though, things take a turn for the better. It would be unkind to suggest that Sinners Bleed don’t have an original thought in their collective minds and simply, like a metal obsessed magpie, pilfer from the great and good in death and thrash (and some nu-metal it must be said) metal but that’s not the point. Yes, they have vocal stylings inspired by Obituary and Death, yes, the guitars are straight from the Nile shredding catalogue of guitar riffs BUT if you’re going to steal from the best then why the fuck not steal from the best. In taking the very best of their influences and grinding them into a sticky Germanic thrash paste, Sinners Bleed have created an album that is more than just a fan boys’ pastiche, but something that is monstrous and hugely enjoyable to listen to.
‘Devouring Hatred’ sprints out of the blocks like a 5 legged Usain Bolt and doesn’t stop after 100 meters, it twists and turns, varying the temp from slow crawling evil Deicide like blocks of satanic concrete riffs to blistering blast beats and pinballing double bass that shake the jelly in your eyes. ‘Jesus’ Delusion Army’ takes a cheap and well-practiced shot at organised religion all sledgehammer wall of guitars and guttural vocals before easing down the gears for a crunchy, bouncy riff that recalls early Sepultura before segueing into some guitar solo heroics that complement rather than jar.
I must admit, I was not expecting much going into my first listen and a cursory look on their social media profile and the accompanying record label bullshit seemed (on the face of it) to confirm my jaded suspicions, BUT fuck suspicions, fuck being jaded… this is a great album. Sinners Bleed may pilfer from the great and good of the metal world, but as said, they meld their influences into something that’s brutal, engaging, varied and intelligent. I can only hope that it’s not another 16 years before their next release.
(9/10 Nick Griffiths)