Friday, January 6, 2012

Sincera - Cursed And Proud

Sincera
Cursed And Proud
Abyss Records

While this album from Norwegian act Sincera is considered a relatively new release, in truth ‘Cursed And Proud’ is actually a re-release of sorts, with the album comprising of tracks recorded some six years ago. Initiated as far back as 2002 by vocalist/bassist Thomas Andresen and guitarist Bjørn ‘Tiger’ Mathisen following the demise of cult black/death metal outfit Fester (Who have only just reunited), the pair soon teamed up with guitarist/keyboardist Thomas Aamodt and drummer Lars Erik Duserud, and the band went under the name of Evening. A couple of years later, and a few line-up changes along the way, and Sincera officially came into being.
Sincera was never intended to be a fulltime project for those involved, which has meant that in the nine years the band have loosely been playing together, they’ve only managed to record a single demo in 2005 under the title of ‘Tall And Proud’.
Fast forward several years, and Abyss Records have decided to remaster the band’s demo, along with the addition of some live tracks in order to make up ‘Cursed And Proud’ – the band’s official debut full-length effort.
As mentioned earlier, the first four tracks on ‘Cursed And Proud’ are the four tracks lifted from the band’s demo in remastered form, with the opening track ‘Tall And Proud’ leading the charge. ‘Tall And Proud’ is by far one of the album’s strongest and most interesting efforts, and one of the more misleading efforts. Atmospheric, groove based and somewhat melancholy, the track still retains a blackened death metal vibe for the most part (Especially in terms of the vocals), and brings to mind Satyricon crossed with touches of early Marduk.
The fast paced ‘A Grievers Soul’ is something completely different from the opener, with its suitably grim and traditional black metal sound dominating proceedings, while ‘Blinded’ slots alongside the opener with its strong atmospheric grooves and fairly straightforward riffs structures. But while the song does feature some great lead work throughout, the use of clean vocals in the background are nearly as successful as they could have been had they sounded less amateurish.
Finishing up the studio tracks is ‘Cursed (Could Have Been Such A Beautiful Word If Not Thrown Upon By Others)’, which can only be described as an experiment that doesn’t work. Musically, the song does have some strength (The greater use of keyboards and the slow tempos definitely work at giving the song a different sound), but the quirky clean vocals at the start just makes it hard to enjoy the song as a whole.
The second half of the album presents four live tracks from the band recorded back in 2006. It’s here that the band really show what they’re capable of, with the blasphemous ‘Die Like Jesus Christ’, the moody melodic groove of ‘Smell Of Fear’ and the intense blast of ‘Where Am I!?!’ showing just how far the band had evolved in their short time together. But regardless of how good the songs are, the sound is of bootleg quality, which is not all that surprising given it was lifted directly from a 9mm hand held video camera at the gig. It’s a shame they couldn’t have lifted something from the sound desk.
Finishing up the album is ‘Byron Lawless’, which was written specifically as the entrance song for Norwegian wrestler Byron Lawless. The song is credited as a bonus track, and for very good reason – it’s a fairly simple, repetitive and short song, and one that doesn’t really fit into the rest of the album’s overall sound. In other words, it’s a bit of a throw away track.
Given the history behind ‘Cursed And Proud’, it would be harsh of me to say that the album is a bit of a mess and patchy in places – even if it really is. What I can say however is that it’s an interesting release, and well worth checking out for those who are looking for something a little different sounding from within the blackened death genre, or fans of the cult act Fester.

For more information on Sincera, check out – http://www.reverbnation.com/sincera

© Justin Donnelly