Overall Score: 8/10 Songwriting: 9/10 Replay Value: 8/10 New Material: 6/10 Pros: Added complexity to new songs | Improved songwriting and cohesion Cons: Half the tracks have already been released
Sinsaenum is a project that piqued a lot of interest when it first emerged, when Frédéric Leclercq (of DragonForce fame) and Vimic’s Joey Jordison teamed up with extreme metal royalty in Attila Csihar (Sunn O))), Mayhem), Stéphan Buriez (Loudblast), Heimoth (Seth) and Sean Zatorsky (Dååth, Chimaira) to release an album of blackened death metal built around demos Leclercq had written in the late 1990s. Needless to say, the result, 2016’s Echoes of the Tortured, proved that Fred and Joey can cut it in this scene, and talk immediately shifted towards a sequel release. While that next album is still in the works, Sinsaenum have appeased fans with a new EP, entitled Ashes.
The title track is everything you want in Sinsaenum. With the songwriting much improved from the first album (where tracks such as “Army of Chaos” came off as somewhat by-the-numbers death metal), “Ashes” has a main riff that sticks with you and gets your head banging off your shoulders. The band immediately comes off as a much more cohesive unit, with Sean Z still dominating the vocals, but Attila’s contributions becoming much more apparent. Attila handles the lyrics on “Monarch of Death”, further developing his role within the band, as a much more versatile vocalist than the very guttural performance of Sean Z, switching between his eery monologues and his throat shredding screeching, perhaps best showed on “2099 (Heretics)”.
The next 3 tracks may already be known to those who heard certain editions of Echoes of the Tortured, with two of them being Japanese bonus tracks and the final track, “Dead Souls”, being given a remix by Mass Hysteria guitarist Frédéric Duquesne. The two previously Japan exclusive tracks, “Degeneration” and “King of the Desperate Lands”, would slot in comfortably with Echoes of the Tortured and carry a much more raw production than the newer tracks offer, which cam feel jarring upon first listen. The songs themselves are very decent, but if you’ve been aware of them before, you’ll likely have already heard them. The remix of Dead Souls is a far more interesting proposition, as Duquesne brings his industrial edged guitar tone to the song, making the track feel much fuller and more aggressive. The new solos by Buriez and Leclercq are much appreciated changes to give the track a fresher feel.
The main problem with this EP lies in the lack of truly “new” material, with only half of the tracks being written specially for it. For newer or more casual listeners, this may not be a problem but for those hungry for more new tracks, it can be quite irksome. The difference in production between the old tracks and the new tracks also has an impact on the overall consistency of the EP. However, for what it is, Ashes does well to whet the appetite for a second album, and displays the progress they have made as a band, rather than simply being a side project or supergroup for the members to indulge in.
Sinsaenum’s new EP Ashes is out now via Peccatum/earMUSIC. Follow the band on Facebook.