SINISTHRA – The Broad And Beaten Way
Boy is he ever! Sinisthra, who according to Encyklopedia Metallum, started out as Nevergreen (2000) and persisted for 5 years before changing their name after the Italian word "sinistra", meaning "the left side" and representing the allegory of creativity, femininity, individuality and general free thinking pathways of the Left Hand, without the hollow "satanic" or any other religious connotations, and which have "Last Of The Stories Of Long Past Glories" (2005) LP (Arise Records) and "Sinisthra Promo 2008" EP on their belt before this new, just released album, are truly blessed by having Tomi Joutsen as their vocalist. One just needs to have a listen at the progressive masterpiece that is "Closely Guarded Distance", a whopping over 13 minute medley of Queensrÿche-ian, Anathema-ian (Alternative 4) and Marillion-ic (Seasons’ End) stylings to realize how amazing vocalist Tomi is. Or consider the favorite "Morning Frail" a doom masterpiece which would not be out of place on either My Dying Bride or Paradise Lost album. How about the Pink Floyd-ian "Halfway To Somewhere Else" partially reminiscent of Opeth’s "Damnation" or the proggy tour-de-force that is "Safe In The Arms Of The Everlasting Now" where Tomi’s soulful vocals recall Katatonia’s Jonas Petter Renkse? No doubt, not only is Tomi at the top of his game but so are guitarists Markku Mäkinen and Marko Välimäki, keyboardist Timo Vainio, bassist Janne Telen and drummer Erkki Virta, and it would seem we all should run in a pig stampede to the store and buy a copy of "The Broad And Beaten Way" for everyone we know whilst sorting the "iou’s" later.
But as excellent as it is, their 2nd album is not a flawless masterpiece. The opener "Eterne" (which does have a great chorus) and especially the closer "Ephemeral" are somewhat lacking in substance, the latter less so. I could use a few more songs, too, as the aforementioned standouts leave a taste for more in my mouth.
Overall, "The Broad And Beaten Way" is an excellent album. Tracks such as "Morning Frail" or "Closely Guarded Distance" whet the appetite for both more of the Tomi vocal and Marko/Markku guitar, but there are small insatiables which lower the score. However, you should still check out this album if only for those standout tracks, and you’ll be glad you did.