Sinistro’s gorgeous new record Semente has left me a bit perplexed. The Portuguese band make the sonic equivalent of “saudade,” a feeling of longing, melancholy, or nostalgia that is characteristic to Portugal and Brazil. Semente is incredibly beautiful, offering up a mix of styles that feels like Novembre mixed with Portishead or My Dying Bride fronted by Lana Del Rey. Patricia Andrade’s unique vocals are haunting and wonderful, projecting a sense of emotional despair. The crushing gothic-style doom/post-metal musical backdrop plays up the more theatrical aspects of Andrade’s voice.
The band designed the album to feel like a soundtrack, and they absolutely nail it. That’s where the problem is for me: it’s really easy to enjoy this music, with its perfect mix of the crushing and splendor; however, the feeling that it is meant as a soundtrack to something is inescapable. Much of the album, despite the loud noise, feels like it meant to be in the background. Note: To their credit, the band have released music videos to accompany the visions these songs conjure. However, even though it feels like it’s meant to be in the background, that doesn’t mean it’s not gorgeous and powerful. The transition from the title track to “Reliquia” is magnificent, and the latter track is one of the best on the album, with its more traditional post-metal feel.
That’s why I’m left torn with Semente. On one hand, this is absolutely gorgeous Gothic doom of the highest order, and Andrade’s vocals have a near-perfect mix of powerful and artsy. They are definitely on the right track with their own, unique take on the style, but it’s clear they should focus less on being the soundtrack to a slow-burn horror movie and more on accentuating their interesting sound. To be fair, this is the perfect music to accompany a nice evening with a scary novel; however, Sinistro are talented enough to be more than just fantastic background music.