Death metal was a genre dominated by males some time ago but in the last few years, more and more females can be found in these bands. One of them is the Dutch band Sinister who have never stopped playing brutal death metal. They completed work on their sixth album `Savage and Grace` earlier this year and now they are preparing to hit Europe in the upcoming days. I talked to their bass player Alex, who gave concise answers. - What comes first into your mind when you hear the title `Savage and Grace`? - It`s a typical Sinister album but I think it`s definitely one of the most mature albums we have ever made. It`s one of the most technical, guitarwise. It's got some great guitar solos as well and that was really the first time for us to do that. And I think we made a very aggressive album this time. I could compare it to our first album `Cross the Styx` and to our third one `Hate`. - Is it kinda `back to the roots`? - Some ppl say that. I think it`s yes and no because our old guitar player Ron wrote most of the music and he wrote also the first album, so this way it`s a bit like back to the roots, guitarwise it`s of course a little bit the same but the production and the way how the songs are developed are a little bit different than it was 10 years ago. - The sound of the album is low-tuned. Are you satisfied with it? - Definitely. I think it`s one of the best productions we have had with the band. The mastering was out of our hands, that was done by Nuclear Blast but we are happy with the result. When I`ve heard the first promo I thought it was better than the blank version we sent to them from the studio. It was good for our expectations. - How long did you work in the studio? - 2.5-3 weeks. You could always have more time but it was ok for us now. Sometimes you have the feeling you haven`t got enough time but we have to be realistic and sometimes you have to say `it`s good now, we have to hurry up and get on with it`. Otherwise you could spend maybe 4 weeks just on the guitars if you really want to get every part and everything correctly. We got basicly one week before we went to studio to get everything ready except some lyrics, exactly two, we wrote there. - Why did Ron take part in the recordings? - He is a really old friend of us and he was still interested in playing music. When Bart left we were thinking about asking Ron to come back to the band but he said he was very interested in making a new album with us but his family life is more important so he couldn`t be a real part of the band, going on tour and everything. But he said he could help out in the studio and write songs so we asked Pascal for the live stuff and to be a real part of the band. But Ron was the main inventor of most of the songs on the album. - Whose job was to write the songs this time? - It was mostly Ron. It was like a strange conception for us also. Eventually Ron was one of the founding members of Sinister so that why it was really interesting to work with him again. He was like standing still ready for 10 years, he has been still playing his guitars through the years and he was really motivated to record his ideas. - Did he write the lyrics as well? - No, I wrote the lyrics. Except two songs, that were written by Ron. - Did Rachel take part in the lyrics writing? - No, she didn`t. In the beginning Bart and (now again) Ron were responsible for the music and I`m usually responsible for the lyrics. I created the vocal patterns and the lyrics and just told her how she should sing it. - Last time the lyrics were about the different motivations to kill ppl, what are they about now? - The title is `Savage and Grace`, our drummer came up with this title. I said ok, it be might something interesting and then again I decided to write kind of a concept album. It`s about the abuse of power. If you talk about religion or politics or relations, in the end they are all about power. What are you doing with this power, will you use it a savagely way or gracely, in a good way. Every songs deals a little bit with that subject. - Do you have a favourite song on the album? - Yes, it`s `Conceptional Sin`. For me it`s one of the classical Sinister songs. It starts with an acoustical, strange intro and then it developes into a real fast, thrash song with one of the best vocal parts on the whole album. The best riffs ever written by Sinister are also in this song. So, it`s definitely one of the best songs on the album. - Would you also recommend it to listen to first? - I don`t know. I would choose rather the opener, `Savage and Grace`, that`s more like and into-your-face song and I think that`s the best song to start to listen to the album. - You are going on tour in the next days, how will you build up the setlist, will you play songs from the new album or rather come up with kind of a best of? - We will play from all of our albums because Savage and Grace hasn`t been released yet so no one will know these songs. We talked about playing one of the new songs but then we were like `it`s no use of that`. Wouldnt it be better to go on tour after the album is released? - Yeah, but we got this offer to tour with CC. We knew this is before the cd comes out but we said why not. It`s like a good pre-promotion for the album. Maybe it`s more wise to tour after the cd is out but you can also say if ppl see you play and they like the show they will get more interested in the band and will buy the album two weeks later or so. I think touring helps to sell some albums but I don`t think it`s really important which time you are going on tour. I don`t think you will sell more albums if you do a tour after 3 weeks the release of the cd. - The covers of your previous albums were rather typical death metal covers but `Savage and Grace`s` has an interesting picture and it also more original. Whose idea was this cover? - Originally it was a little bit different. There was like a church on the left side, then blending into a slaughter house on the right side. Between them there was an angel and a demon fighting with each other. We sent our idea to the one who made this cover telling him this was our idea to make something out of it. Then he came back with this idea and we found that pretty good. It really reflects the album title. And it is specially different for us, this the most strange cover we have ever had. - Some bands have rehearsals to prepare for a new album or before they tour, how does it work out with Sinister? - We used to play one or two times a week but now since Pascal lives at the other end of the country, something like 3-4 hours by car, we decided to cut off the rehearsal times. Now we only practice before we go on tour or before we go to record something. - Last year you made plans about putting together a cover album, titled `Creators of Brutality`. What happend with that idea? - We are not gonna do that anymore. That idea we had for Hammerheart Records. They asked `can you release something very fast?` We thought it over and said we might do a cover cd. But the corporation between us and Hammerheart was stopped so we decided not to do that anymore. And NB was also more interested in a new album. - Did you prepare any songs for that album in advance? - Yes, we practiced two songs at that time. We did a cover from a Death song and `The Flag of Hate` from Kreator. But we are not gonna record any of them anymore and we are not gonna play cover songs live either. It`s cool to make cover from old bands` songs but now we are more focused on our own stuff and put more effort on them. - Sinister went through some line-up changes. Is the current line-up stable enough? - I don`t know. Maybe we are too much assholes to work with that`s why everybody is leaving this band.. ha-ha. I really hope this time we can maintain our line-up and finally for the first time we can make another album with the same line up we had on this album. That`s one of my hopes for the future. - Do you work easily in the studio together? - Lot of times everybody was working alone without the other members. But we are getting very fine along with each other. - You`ve just made a short tour in South-America. What was it like? - It was really great. It was our first time there and it was an experience we will never forget. Becuase the ppl were so incredible over there so we had a really good time. I felt like Britney Spears over there... ha-ha. We played two shows by ourselves and three other with Mayhem. There are not so many shows so the promoter decided to get a death and a black metal band together in order to get more ppl to the gigs. - Sinister have toured with Suffocation and now they are reunited. What do you think about it? Will they be able to live up to the expectations ppl may have to them? - First of all I`m one of the biggest Suffocation fan ever because I think they made one of the most classic death metal albums. But I have a little bit mixed feelings about this stopping things and going on again and stopping again and going on again... etc. I mean, make up your mind if you are gonna do it or not. If we are gonna stop with Sinister we will never come back again. And a lot of bands quit for years and then go on again. I think if we stop with this band and a few years later I want to play music again I would do it under another name. I don`t like this come-back shit. But of course Suffocation is a great band and I would like to see them again. We have to wait and see how long will they hold on this time. It`s strange becuase in that time, around 95 Suffocation was still a band and it was like no one interested in them anymore. And now everybody is talking about Suffocation again. They are great musicians, it`s a great band with great songs and I think ppl are really interested in them now because they have kind of a `god` status - Does it have anything to do with the death metal is getting more support and getting more popular again? - Yes but they have been saying this for years now. When we released Agressive Measures in 98 ppl were telling us `oh, it`s getting better now`. And when I did promotional things for Creative Killings in 2001 ppl said it was getting more and more popular, and I`m hearing the same things again. I think death metal was always pretty much popular except only for the period from 94 till 97 when there was really a big black metal hype. Now, it`s more relaxed. There are not that much of a hype anymore like in the beginning of the 90s. The situation is rather stable for years now. It`s popular but there aren`t any hype anymore. I think the music scene and the death metal scene is very healthy now. - Sinister has been around since the end of the 80`s but still not a very well known band. What might be the reason for that in your opinion? - Everyone knows our name and maybe everyone has one Sinister cd but we eventually never grow up to be a big band, we never achieved that. We talked about it several times. It has different factors of course. We had a lot of line-up changes which really affected the band. Everytime we got a stable situation we got problems again. Between Aggressive Measuer and Creative Killings, that is 3 years, we almost didn`t do anything. We did some shows but that was about it. It was going really good for Sinister in the beginning of the 90s, ppl said we were going to be one of the top bands. In the middle of 90s was a really bad period for us. Since then we couldn`t achive to go on, it was just also a lack of motivation to be really 100% to work on the band. You can say it`s mostly our own fault. - Sinister have toured a lot, where do you have most of your fans? - Now, I have to say my favourite fans are in South America but I think a lot of bands who played there would say that. They were really insane, it went really extreme. Just like in last year in Russia. We had good shows over ther also. And Southern-Europe is also very good for us. - You left Nuclear Blast a few years ago and went to Hammerheart but you returned to NB again. Why? - You might be number 35 for NB because they have a lot bigger bands on the label. Our opinion at that time was if we go to Hammerheart we could be band number one or number two for them. So we thought this smaller label could do a lot more for us. Unfortunately it was a big mistake from us. Hammerheart can`t really live up to the expectations, the promotion was very bad, they got bad distribution in countries like in the USA. I`ve got emals from ppl asking me how they could get our albums over there. There were a lot of dissapointments at that label. They promised a lot and they couldn`t fulfill the promises so I got dissapointed in them after a time. Then we thought it might be still better being number 35 on NB than being number 1 on Hammerheart. And I think we made a really good association with going back to NB again. The promotion for Savage and Grace has just started for a couple of days now and I have the feeling it`s definitely better now. We signed the contract for one album and we have option for five more. So we can end this contract anytime, just like NB has the freedom to end it if they don`t want us to be on their label anymore. We went back to them so we are happy with the situation now. We were also happy in the past but we just wanted to give aourselves another chance. But I had to admit it was a wrong idea and it`s funny because Markus, the director of NB, said it wasn`t a good idea when we told them we wanted to go to Hammerheart. He said we were gonna back after one album and we said, no we weren`t going back. But he was right. - What are your plans for the near future? - We are going to do this tour now from next week on which hopefully will be great since we are going to lot places we haven`t been before. We are going to play on the Wacken Open Air and after that we are looking forward to make a full time European tour in the end of the year, to really promote the album, to play the songs of `Savage and Grace`. And I think we will enter the studio within 1-1.5 year again. - Have you ever thought about doing something that is completely different musically? - No, not really. If I go and play I want to do just this kind of music, I`m not really interested in other kind of things. I`m also playing in Houwitser and it`s also a death metal band. And two band is enough if I look at my time table. The last two months I was never at home because now we are recording a new album for Houwitser too. I just came out from the studio with Savage and Grace and we went to South-America. From there I directly went back to the studio to record with Houwitser and we are going on tour in the next days with Sinister again. - I`ve heard you are a school-teacher. What is your subject? - I`m teaching social study at a high-school. - What is the reaction of the studenst on that you are playing in a death metal band? -Oh, I just keep it a little secret. Sometime I tell them little things like I just told them for example we went to South America because I`m friend with Shakira and she asked me to go and work with her, so I`m just making a little bit fun of them. And they really believed it, they really think I`m associated with Shakira. ha-ha - How old are your students? - 15. Sometimes I gave them the address of the website or bring a cd for them. And if they see a pic of me on the band`s homepage they say `it`s not you.` ha-ha - Last question, what is your actual playlist? - I`m listening a lot to the new Bloodbath, that`s really one of my favourites at the moment. I also listen a lot to this other Dutch band God Dethroned, the new Old Man`s Child and I just bought the new Yattering album and I`m listening a lot of old stuff lately, like old Iron Maiden - Thanks for your time, any message to the readers? - We are really looking forward to go to Hungary next Saturday. I hope the crowd really wants to see us and I hope it will be a really great concert and I hope everybody will like `Savage and Grace`. Check out the band's website: http://sinistercentral.cjb.net/ for more information.