I will admit up front to having certain expectations for Sin4tr4: I was anticipating another typical post-metal release that would, like a significant proportion of the genre’s newer bands, sound like a pale copy of Isis, Cult of Luna, or any of the battalion of established greats, whose extended, atmospheric, climax-orientated songs are easy to copy but very hard to match in immersive quality. Australasia have avoided post-metal’s classic pitfalls – failing to nail the length:interest ratio or to sound vaguely original without seeming contrived – by cutting any potential fat that Sin4tr4 might have had, leaving it concise, slick, exciting and – admittedly – rather short.
Not only is it significantly less long-winded than most post-metal, but Sin4tr4 also has a distinctively different sound to the typical sludge-rooted band of the genre; it has much more futuristic aesthetic that conveys an atmosphere that is much more slick and mechanical (which does not imply sterile) than organic. The guitars are still distorted and crushing, but instead of coming across as waves of sludgy sound that washing the listener, they are focused and immediate, contrasting with the ambiance that dominates the rest of the music. Samples (Scenario), spoken word (Antenna), synths (Spine), female vocals (Apnea), chimes (Fragile) and blast beats (Scenario) are incorporated at different stages. This shows that the band has an impressive arsenal of techniques which they are able to integrate into the core of their sound (ethereal clean guitars that change at a moment’s notice to distorted, tremolo-infused grooves and progressions).
On paper, this sawn-off version post-metal shouldn’t disappoint and indeed, it does not. The peak-valley structure of the genre is still present but accelerated, meaning that Sin4tr4 takes various twists and turns throughout its running time, always dwelling on an idea long enough for it to be poignant, but moving on before it can become repetitive. I, as a believer of innovation, find it a refreshing, absorbable package that never threatens to outstay its welcome and keeps a sensible running time. The album’s main flaw is that whilst keeping tracks short and sweet does keep them fresh, they often feel as though they have potential that could have been developed further; Australasia have proved that they can deploy contrast and atmosphere to great effect and it would be wonderful to hear them develop that talent further. Recommended to any fan of instrumental music.
See also: Cotillion – The Debutantes