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Spiteful Intents (1996)

Cardinal Sin was formed by John Zwetsloot, in 1994, after leaving Dissection. He was joined by Magnus "Devo" Andersson and Joakim Göthberg, previously of Marduk. By 1996, they recorded the Spiteful Intents E.P. To date, this is their one and only release. The style is not far removed from the early material from Dissection, possessing a similar style of composition and arrangement. This is best described as melodic black metal, but with some death metal influences.

"Spiteful Intent" begins with an acoustic piece that also features some clean spoken word part in the background. The atmosphere is very calm and serene, suddenly building to an explosive release. The cold tremolo melodies and blasting drums are accompanied by very raspy vocals. The atmosphere is not as Black as on The Somberlain, for example, but it never strays into Lunar Strain territory either. There is some use of overdubbed vocals, with the higher-pitched style joined by a deeper growl. This effect is ephemeral, thankfully. There's some interested solo work, as well, showing Zwetsloot's classical background.

The next song is "Probe With A Quest", and it begins with a brief open-arpeggio riff that creates a dismal feeling, before transitioning to a more epic riff, that builds a majestic and sorrowful aura. The main riff could have, easily, fit a Dissection album, though the drumming isn't nearly as tight as that of Ole Öhman. By the middle of the song, things slow down and the feeling is more sombre. The mournful melodies sweep over you like frozen winds, before shifting back to the main mid-paced thrash riff. The final moments have a rather epic vibe going on.

"The Cardinal Sin" follows this, breaking the serene feeling with thrashier riffs and faster drumming. There is a heightened sense of urgency, though I wouldn't exactly say this is terribly intense. It's more straight-forward than the previous songs, and shorter as a result. There are some decent riffs here, but it makes one wonder how this material would have sounded in Zwetsloot's prior band, as it seems to be lacking something. It's not bad, by any means, but it doesn't feel complete in some way.

The E.P. ends with the brief classical guitar piece, "Language of Sorrow". As the title would suggest, the feeling is somewhat introspective and bleak. It's much in the same vein as "Crimson Towers", from The Somberlain, and serves as a fitting way to end this release.

All in all, there's nothing terribly groundbreaking or essential here. While it's solid material and is of particular interest of those who wish to follow what John Zwetsloot did after leaving Dissection, it simply cannot compare with that godly band (then again, few things can). It's worth picking up, if you get the chance.
(27 Jan. 2010)

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