I've wanted to love Sinister Realm from the first moment I knew of their existence. Somewhere along my travels around the metal universe, I was put on to their debut album, which immediately put me in the middle of my love/hate relationship with the band. Sinister Realm, more than any other of the old-school metal bands who have popped up on the scene over the last few years, has the ability to write great songs. Over the course of their first two records, the band has written a handful of stunning examples of classic heavy metal, the kinds of tracks that would make a headbanger out of even the most hesitant.
Why love/hate, you ask? For all the good that Sinister Realm did on those records, and it is a lot, they also fell into the habit of writing half a great album, and leaving the rest to get in the way. Their inconsistency has kept me from fully embracing the band and their music, because each time one of the lesser tracks comes on, I can't stop myself from remembering how much better their great work is. Many bands fall into this category, but Sinister Realm in particular frustrates me, because I know if they could deliver an entire album that lives up to their potential, it would be one of the best traditional heavy metal albums in years. They can be that good.
All of which brings us to album number three, the one that will cement my opinion on them one way or the other. With two records under their belt, there's no excuse why “World Of Evil” shouldn't blow me away.
“Dark Angel Of Fate” does not do that right away. While fitting in the template set ages ago by “Neon Knights”, the song tries to get the blood pumping, but the chorus never takes off and soars above the song the way it needs to. It's very meat and potatoes metal, which while good, isn't the most exciting way to get a record off the ground.
“Bell Strikes Fear” is a better attempt, but again falling short of the mark. It's mid-tempo riff is perfect for headbanging, but when the chorus comes, the song falls short of the mark. It tries to be an anthem, but the layered gang vocals that shout the title are so weak and devoid of energy that the whole thing comes off sounding uninspired, rather than a call to arms. The title track is the first sign of life on the album, another mid-paced track that features some nifty guitar work, and opens up into a bigger chorus than either of the previous tracks. This is the kind of track I was looking for, and even if it doesn't quite live up to their earlier standards, it's still great to hear.
The run in the middle, with the title track, along with “Cyber Villain” and “The Ghosts Of Nevermore” is Sinister Realm doing what they do best. They're heavy, have groove, and utilize big sing-along choruses in the best way. These are what I came looking for, and Sinister Realm delivered.
Unfortunately, their third record is exactly like their first two. About half of “World Of Evil” is the kind of great old-school heavy metal I desperately want to love, while the other half is flat and does little to make me care. The over eight minute closer, loaded with doom touches, is exactly the kind of thing that derails this band. It's slow, long, and has nothing that could be considered a hook.
“World Of Evil” isn't a bad record, but it continues my frustration with the band, because it offers glimpses of what could be, if the band could deliver an entire album up to their own standards. They once again fail to, which makes it hard to give a hearty recommendation to the record, and makes me doubtful they're ever going to be anything more than this.