Sinistro aren’t power metal. Sinistro aren’t folk metal. And Sinistro aren’t whatever Solefald are. Rather, the Portugal-based quartet, fronted by the inimitable Patrícia Andrade, are like nothing we’ve heard before. There’s nods to Through Silver and Blood-era Neurosis, Gothic-era Paradise Lost, Oceanic-era ISIS, and Stream from the Heavens-era Therogothon, but the nods aren’t the sum of the group’s parts. Rather, they’re liminal references, opposing yet collaborative, with heavy doses of saudade imbued throughout. Clearly, Lisbon and its atmosphere have penetrated Sinistro’s spirit. If metal had its own Massive Attack, a la Mezzanine, it’d be Sinistro’s Sangue Cássia.
But that is to say, Sinistro’s new album, Sangue Cássia, continues where previous album, Semente, left off. This time, the Portuguese have refined their darkness, amplified their melancholy, and reconstituted their heaviness. For as much as “Cosmos Controle,” “Abismo,” and “Cravo Carne” writhe through time-worn alleys, there’s other energy afoot. “Pétalas,” “Vento Sul,” and “Nuvem” are mischievous, siren songs for smoke-filled rooms, where menacing faces are obscured and intents aren’t entirely understood. There’s danger here, but also belonging. Much of that has to do with the way guitarists Ricardo Matias and Rick Chain interact with Andrade’s gloomy gyrations.
There are good albums and then there are great albums. Sangue Cássia is of the latter category, a surprise gift in times of mediocrity and the spiritless. Fall into Sinistro’s Sangue Cássia with me.
For fans of heavy music, what’s your “elevator pitch,” as it were, to describe Sinistro?
Patrícia Andrade: If you’re looking for heavy guitars and cinematic landscapes, Sinistro has that ambiance. At least that’s what we search for when we compose.
Who would you describe as musical peers? I mean, there’s bits of My Dying Bride, ISIS, Cult of Luna, and, vocally, Massive Attack. Sinistro occupy an interesting corner.
Patrícia Andrade: We are five people and all of us with different influences. From classical to heavy music. Mainly those are influences that move us to create music. When we start composing, most of the time, we don’t think in a specific band or genre. We search for ambiance, colors…
Would you call Sinistro doom metal or something else?
Patrícia Andrade: Maybe doom metal with something else… I don’t know. Even for us it’s not easy to describe what land we are in. Of course, more connected with heavy/rock music, but still, with this genre there’s a world inside. And it’s a world so rich…
Sinistro’s lyrics are in Portuguese. Culturally, do feel that not singing in English isolates certain listeners? Personally, I think globalization, if it can be called that, has helped ease the linguistic burden most non-English speaking bands face. Native tongues aren’t as foreign as they used to be.
Patrícia Andrade: For us, what seems to be an obstacle became an advantage. Instead of an isolate, it makes people curious about us and our language. Many people say, when they see Sinistro live that don’t understand anything but feel. That’s the main purpose in music. And in art, generally, is to feel, communicate, and share. And we feel very proud and honored to have the chance to share our music in Portuguese. I agree with you Chris: native tongues are not so strange anymore. People are more open to listen to other languages, fortunately.
Where does Fado fit in? More in spirit or in practice?
Patrícia Andrade: Fado is not in Sinistro in a formal way. You don’t identify directly. There’s no Portuguese guitar or other Fado elements. But it is present as a feeling, a melancholy that exists in Fado, a Portuguese state of soul.
And are the lyrics focused on Portuguese topics or are they more general? I gather they’re not about happy days and living the good life.
Patrícia Andrade: Since our EP Cidade the lyrics were connected with the city of Lisbon, peoples’ movements, daily life. In Semente the approach is more subjective, describe peoples’ feelings, stories, existence, questions. Sangue Cássia has the same theme as Semente, but, in this case, each song has a real person behind it. Sangue Cássia portrays existence, fears, aging, solitude, themes connected with people in general living in Portugal. Or, not. We all look for answers during life, this is universal. The way you look at it or the way you feel it is different from person to person. I’m Portuguese, living in Lisbon, so, it’s connected with what I see, with my reality.
In your view, how is Sangue Cássia different from Semente?
Patrícia Andrade: Sangue Cássia is ‘the next story’ from Semente. It’s not so different. It’s ‘to be continued’ but in a more mature, maybe more reflexive way.
Did you have a specific direction you wanted to take Sangue Cássia? It feels the more it progresses the more filmic it becomes, starting with “Petalas”, or more specifically with “Vento Sul.”
Patrícia Andrade: We didn’t plan this process and composition to be the continuation of Semente. It just happened, and we realized that during the process, and that made sense for us. Maybe the chapter couldn’t be closed with Semente, so we feel the need to explore more.
Musically, you vocals against the heavy backdrop creates quite a picture. Did you have more time to think about how Patrícia’s vocals would inform (or vice versa) the music on Sangue Cássia?
Patrícia Andrade: There’s no specific formula. In this case, such as in Semente, we tried to compose both [the music and vocals] at the same time, or at least, concerning voice, make an improv try first and then develop the vocals as the music also develops.
Are there songs that speak to you more than others? Both are very dark, but “Nuvem” is pretty different from “Cosmos Controle.”
Patrícia Andrade: In my personal point of view, I cannot speak for the all band, but “Nuvem” and “Cosmos Controle” are one of my favorites, such as “Ferida” and “Cravo Carne.” They got different energies: but the songs complement each other because they have different textures. I like both because of that. You need to have shadows to see the light.
Sangue Cássia is your second record for Season of Mist. What are some of your goals for this record?
Patrícia Andrade: Our aim is to share our Sangue Cássia live. We love to play live.
How important are videos for Sinistro? You already have two videos: “Petalas” and “Abismo” on Youtube.
Patrícia Andrade: The videos in Sinistro are very important. Since the beginning we want to do videos as a complement to express our music. Live, they are very important, make our show complete and richer. We also have “Lotus” available on Youtube.
And finally what to you want first-time listeners to walk away with after hearing songs from Sangue Cássia?
Patrícia Andrade: A voyage among feelings and state of soul visiting landscapes of darkness and light. Where we all exist.
** Sinistro’s new full-length Sangue Cássia is out now on Season of Mist. Order it HERE or miss out on one of 2018’s best releases, doom metal or not. Truly.