In the latter half of 2012, Northern Ireland heavyweights Sinocence emerged from what can be best described as a period of transition – one characterized by personal issues for certain members of the band, coupled with a (at the time relatively) recent line-up change – to produce the first volume of a planned triptych of EPs under the collective title of ‘No Gods. No Masters.’ – a “christening” (sic) which in itself echoed the group’s atheistic viewpoint and belief in shaping their own destiny.
At the time of its release, this particular reviewer hailed the first EP as a “work of genius” and, noting the trauma of its birth, added that it also encapsulated the nature of the entire metal scene this wee part of the world at that particular time… “pressurized, traumatized, but energized and always ready to come back and kick you in the balls” were the words used. It was a scene which itself was undergoing almost surgical transition, moving out of a period of, largely apathetic, darkness and into a period which has seen it establish itself as one of the most energetic, exciting and vibrant not only in the isles but anywhere on this unholy mess of a planet we nevertheless call ‘Mosh’.
Now, a little more than two and a bit years later, the Sins have once again emerged from albeit a much more protracted absence to present the second volume of their trilogy – and it is an opus which well and truly picks up almost exactly, to the very note, where its predecessor left off… The second track on the first volume – the huge, lugubrious ‘Long Way Down’ – features one of the most titanic (sic) riffs ever laid down; and it is a monstrosity which is evoked once more, in spirit at least, in the opening phrasing of ‘Ascension Code’. This time, it is Jim Seymour’s bass which rumbles forth, inspiring one of those “what-the-fuck-was-that?” reactions as it pummels and pounds its way out of the subwoofers, before the powerhouse of the main riff towards you and then over you with the fury of several legions of Wildlings against the North Wall. The lengthy opening instrumental passage constructs the overall picture of the song, before Moro fills in the details with a typically spiteful vocal delivery: but, right from the opening couplet of “The more the secrecy / The more the paranoia…” there is something immediately different. And that is something which has been extremely evident in the handful of shows which the Sins so far have played in support of this release – the less forced nature of the singer’s style: it is a change which is of huge benefit to the complex nature of the song structures, and to the lyrical subjects which the band address, as he eases back and into the songs, letting them speak for themselves and the lyrics in turn to breathe and speak for themselves through Moro’s clear enunciation.
This is no more better demonstrated than on ‘Valorous’ – a deeply personal song inspired (if that is the right word) by the death of one of the singer’s oldest friends: as a result, the song has an elegiac majesty about it, right from the mournful strings of the opening passage, over which Moro’s poignant, painful lament recalls “Remember we were free / Our wild at heart besotted teens / Our dreams as big as waves / Swept away one I’d have died to save”, before the song gently, slowly swells through its heartbreaking refrain into a crushing middle section, and then amalgamates all its constituent components into a hugely emotional tribute to times spent together and subsequently lost to the unstoppable flow of time.
One other massive development with ‘… Volume II’ is also a greater emphasis on Seymour’s bass work, which is much to the fore in both the song structures and their overall delivery and blends into and around the main guitar riffs while at same time establishing its own identity within the overall context of the songs. On the vicious ‘Slavery By Consent’, for example, the stabbing bass riff combines brilliantly with Davy Cassa’s snapping drum line, which in turns rolls and broils around the seering scream of the spitting guitar melody.
The overall feeling evoked by ‘… Volume II’ is one of an underlying intensity that is brutal, almost bestial, in its intention, its dark subject material coupled with a thoughtful vehemence which runs the emotional gamut from the morose to the confident – the latter epitomizing a band comfortable with where they find themselves and determined to ensure that their destiny lies firmly in their own hands, without any interference from faux gods or other outside forces telling them what they should or should not – or can or cannot – do by delivering an unbridled, furious statement of intent which both recaptures the power and aggression of their formative years but also will see them re-establish themselves (as if they really need to do so) at the top of Ireland’s heavy metal premier division.
Ascension Code / In Kymetica / Slavery By Consent / Valorous / Covert Messiah
Recommended listening: In Kymetica / Valorous