In the early 1990's Death Metal exploded and became a force to be reckoned with within the Heavy Metal scene. After a few years of being strong, it started to fade. It now seems to be coming back strong again. I made this statement to Bart, lead guitarist of the Dutch Death Metal quartet, Sinister, as part of my first question to him. And just as Death Metal is coming back to life, with their latest release, "Aggressive Measures", Sinister adds a healthy dose of good old-fashioned brutality. So, in the past year, along with new releases from Vader, Immolation, Crytopsy and newcomers Nile and The Haunted, Sinister leads the call: Death Metal is alive and well!

Interview by Anne "the American Metalgoddess"


What do you think were the factors that contributed to the first wave of Death Metal being so popular? Why do you think such an extreme and brutal music caught on with fans in the first place? Why do you think there was a "quiet" period for Death Metal? What do you think are the factors that are in place for a second wave of Death Metal popularity?
Whoa, that's four questions in one! I'll try to give you four answers in one. Originally, I think Death Metal started out like all other waves of music, as a trend. Any generation of young people have some individuals who need brutal music to live out their frustrations towards parents, school, siblings, the world, whatever. Extreme music is the ultimate way to release your anger. In the development of music, all kinds of music have already been played, so musicians try to get more extreme. So now people listen to more extreme music. As all trends fade after a while, Death Metal did as well. There hasn't become a new music style as brutal as Death Metal, so if you want to get out your aggression, Death Metal is still the best way!

Sinister was around for the initial Death Metal explosion and was part of the first wave. How did you keep the band, and your convictions together during the "quiet" years? What made you stick to your style and formula when so many other bands were changing?
Easy question; all the guys in Sinister have only one favorite thing going; Death Metal, extreme, fast and aggressive, so why play other music?

The last couple of years, at least in the American press, the word on SINISTER has been quiet. Explain what SINISTER has been up to in these years.
I don't have any idea what the situation for SINISTER was in the USA, if there was silence around SINISTER, this is similar to the European situation. After doing our mini-album "Bastard Saints", we didn't get as much concerts as we hoped for. So we'd been hanging around waiting for concerts to come. Then there was a long period of a lousy understanding between all the guys in SINISTER. This is not an ideal situation for writing fresh songs and it took a while before we realized that the only solution to this problem was to get rid of a certain member.

Sinister has had some member changes over the last couple of years. Describe these shifts in personnel, who, what, and when did they occur. Was this difficult for you? Was there ever a time that you wanted to call it quits? What made you keep it together?
The first one to go was our bass-player Michel. He left because he found a job, a girlfriend and a house, and had had his kicks in the band. I respect his choice, and we're still friends. Finding a new bass-player was not very hard; a good friend of ours, Alex, had been playing in Death Metal bands for many years. After we taught him how to play our songs and were about to write new songs (as a collective), the above-mentioned situation occurred. There was definitely no way we could continue with our singer Mike. Although some people were big fans of Mike, for us there were only two options; quit SINISTER, or quit Mike. Easy choice. Finding a new singer was harder than expected, we had set a high standard. After trying out 15 singers who were all very good, but somehow not right for SINISTER, we saw Eric perform with his band SEVERE TORTURE. Blown away by his brutal voice, we invited him to an audition. During the audition it was clear; he's the man! Somehow Eric's ultimate low voice fits better in the Sinister-style than Mike's, but of course this is personal taste. Looking back to the period before the line-up change, we should have done this much earlier. This period was very sad, and although we never really said it out loud, I think we've all thought about quitting. Death Metal rules, and playing in a band rules! And playing in a Death Metal band double-rules! With our new line-up, we have again the spirit of how a band should be, drink a lot of beer and have fun. Yes!

With the release of "Aggressive Measures", do you feel there is a second chance for SINISTER? What makes "Aggressive Measures" an important and viable release for 1998?
I think this question is irrelevant. For us, Sinister is a hobby, like other people do sports, movies, or collects stamps, we play music. Its not major important if people like our music, as long as we like it. About the value of our album, I can only give you our personal importance of it, which is not related to 1998. For us it's proof that after doing four albums, in a scene with as many bands as fans, it's still possible to make an album that sounds fresh. We had a good time writing the songs, and now we're having a good time playing them on stage and in the rehearsal room. I think I've set our motivations clear now...

"Aggressive Measures" is your first full-length studio recording since 1995's "Hate." There has been no compromise in Sinisters' style or sound. "Aggressive Measures" is a full on, all out, true brutal old-school Death Metal album. Over what period of time was the material for this release composed? What is it about this kind of music that makes you stick with it? Do you consider Sinister to be a "true" DM band?
I don't know who invented the expression "true", but this was probably some sorry ass who didn't know how to play an instrument and therefore thought of some other strategy to believe in his band. Anyway, we have better things to do than think about these matters. All right, the music for "Aggressive..." We had about 2-3 songs sort of finished in the 2 years before the line-up change. Having our current line-up, things fell in place at once. We wrote & recorded the album in less than four months; this proves how important it is to get along well with your band members...

Describe what you think is the state of the Death Metal scene now in Europe, and in America. Do you have any opinion on why the Metal scenes in America and Europe are so different? Do you think Europe's Metal scene is better or stronger? What do you think of the current state of American Metal?
My opinion of the American scene is based on two things, our American tour with Cannibal Corpse in 1994 and the Metal releases after that. On our tour, we played almost every day with between 3-7 bands, and all of them played brutal & fast Death Metal. After our tour, the releases from the states I heard (and very often bought) were the same. I love this music! In Europe, a band can only be popular if you have either paint on your face, or you have at least two female singers, a violin player, a keyboard player and 5 bass players and so on. A lot of European Metal fans like this, but let's face it, Metal was made to be brutal! If I want to listen to harmonious music, I'll listen to a band that's good at it! Not to a band who can't choose whether to play Metal or to make nice music! Of course since this music is very popular in Europe, I'm a single soul with this opinion but I don't give a fuck. Fortunately there are still people who like both types of music.

Do you think you have the proper support from your record label? How do you think they should market "Aggressive Measures" in the ever-changing extreme Metal scene?

Nuclear Blast is a good label! They give us the right support for our album, which is: Let people know there's a new album. Death Metal is not the kind of music to "market", either you like it or you don't. My advice; if you want to sell lots of albums & get rich; don't play Death Metal!

     Sinsiter band picture

What is your touring plans? Sinister was one of the original Death Metal bands from the early nineties who were fortunate enough to tour America. Would there be a possibility that this would ever happen again? What about touring Europe? What would be a tour package you would like to see SINISTER on?
Unfortunately, touring is not an option for Sinister anymore. We've all got jobs and responsibilities now. Hopefully we can do a small tour in the US on our summer vacation '99. I have nothing but good memories of our US tour. My ideal touring line-up? Crytopsy, Nile, Suffocation, Sinister. Brutal enough?

What is your current taste in music? What has come out that has excited you? What has come out that you totally despise? How do you keep Sinister from being influenced by current trends in extreme Metal music? What does influence you?
Cryptopsy-"None so Vile", Nile-"Amongst the Catacombs", the first Infernal Torment, Bloodduster-"2x", Vader-"De Profundis", Krabathor-"Lies", Sinister-"Aggressive Measures", At Teh gates-"Slaughter of the Soul", and more. Totally despise? Don't remember the names and don't care.

What would you like the future to hold for Sinister?
Concerts, Albums and all that comes with it... ...