overground scene


Whatever happened to Ron?

This is the first post in a series of posts I plan on the topic of unheard music heroes. I realised over the years that some of the musicians that made a big impression on me when I was young either never got the recognition they deserved or disappeared. The aim of these posts is to pay tribute to these great musicians. I start this series of posts with someone who was a true death metal innovator and for many years I thought had disappeared. I recently found out that he is still active, yet flying under the radar: Ron van de Polder of Sinister.

Sinister-Logo

One of the bands me and my friends have always held in very high regard is the dutch death metal band Sinister. The first album I bought from them was Hate (1995), back in the summer of 1997. Cross the Styx (1992) and Diabolical Summoning (1993) followed shortly after. Every single album they released up to their demise in 2004 (and before their reformation) has been a masterpiece of death metal, taking the genre to new territories. With Cross the Styx, they defined their own style of death metal, which was closer to the American tradition*. However, I always thought that Sinister made use of the different rhythms and techniques as well as the potential of electric guitar, in a more imaginative way than any other band. Sinister’s style of riffing and sense of dissonant melodies are like no other band’s. Even on their first record, Sinister sounded like mature musicians. Their songs had never been a patchwork of riffs, and riffs rarely guided the songs. The latter could be described as dark musical themes orchestrated with impressive fretboard work. After Hate they started experimenting with longer, atmospheric songs often including keyboards, encasing the brutality is a swamp of mysticism and fear. Mike van Mastrigt’s awesome vocals and imaginative and catchy vocal patterns defined Sinister’s trademark sound in the early years. However, even after his departure from the band, his successors, Eric and Rachel, did an awesome job as frontman (on the hyper-brutal Aggressive measures) and frontwoman (on the phenomenal Creative killings and Savage or Grace) respectively.

One of the things that always amazed me about this band is that although they went through numerous line-up changes over the years their identity remained intact, and without compromising freshness and creativity. Another interesting thing about Sinister was that the person responsible for nearly all the music in their debut album, the music that defined their sound, was Ron van de Polder (I think their other guitarist Andre Tolhuizen had a couple of co-writing credits) a member who left the band after the debut. Nevertheless, all the albums that were released in the in-between years were phenomenal despite Ron’s (pictured below in the Entombed t-shirt) absence. Sinister is an exemplary group of musicians that fully embodied their artistic identity and reproduced it in the most natural way throughout the years, in spite of the fact that the person responsible for the original artistic vision was no longer there.

Sinister - Cross The Styx - Back

Until Ron’s informal return on the amazing Savage or Grace (2003), on which he contributed music without being a full-time member, we had no idea what he was up to and we always wondered, especially in the days when internet was still new, what happened to him. Such a brilliant musician, responsible for creating some of the best death metal in the world, should be making music. Although Savage or Grace had the classic Sinister sound that had been constant over the years, Ron’s touch gave it a Cross the Styx feel. A truly brilliant album (check out one of the most amazing songs off this album here). Yet, he did not become a proper member of the band and after that record we lost track of him again. A couple of years ago I discovered that he actually put together the brutal death metal band Infinited Hate.

He released three albums with that band between 2004 and 2007, all three of which with Aad and two with Rachel from Sinister. The style of Infinited Hate could be described as intense technical brutal death metal, much faster and complex than everything Sinister ever recorded. Heaven Termination (2005) specifically is a pretty amazing album. The most recent band in which he plays is called Weapons to Hunt and from the little that I’ve heard its music is full of Ron’s classic riffing, albeit a lot more straight-forward than Infinited Hate. Hopefully, we’ll be listening to more music from Ron in the years to come.

* Sinister were clearly influenced by Deicide‘s approach to music, as well Immolation‘s and Morbid Angel‘s approach to riffing, but my opinion is that they took it to a whole new level. Also, I personally think that the most successful of all US bands, Cannibal Corpse, owes a lot to Sinister. My opinion is that Sinister effected the drastic transformation that Cannibal Corpse went through after Tomb of the Mutilated (1992). I would go as far as to say that Cannibal Corpse totally ripped Sinister off. The entire The Bleeding (1994) album sounds like it’s been influenced by Sinister’s first two albums and particularly Diabolical Summoning (1993). The beginning of “Staring through the eyes of the dead” is classic Sinister, reminiscent of the song “Diabolical summoning”. The beginning of “Stripped, raped and strangled” is also reminiscent of the beginning of “Sadistic intent”. Other songs, such as “Forced fed broken glass”, draw heavily on “Diabolical summoning” and “Desecrated flesh”. And, with all respect due to Scott Burns, the production of The Bleeding also sounds a bit like the production of Diabolical Summoning. More recent work by Cannibal is also reminiscent of Sinister. “To decompose” off Evisceration Plague has a riff directly borrowed from “The cursed mayhem” off Hate.

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11 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Nice read man! One of those bands that flew under the radar, yet released some amazing material!

Comment by HOARDMETAL

Cheers, glad you enjoyed it! Sinister’s just genius! I’m getting into Weapons to Hunt these days and that album they released last year (Blessed in sin) has some classical Sinister riffing in it. Also, in case you haven’t heard of them, Houwitser, another band associated with Sinister, released an album in 2000 (Embrace damnation) which – some racist lyrics aside – is great.

Comment by lentil81

Just got their new album on vinyl this afternoon. Just need to track down their earlier releases (on vinyl)!

Comment by HOARDMETAL

I’ll check it out! I lost interest in Houwitser after their third album. Embrace Damnation was released on a picture disc vinyl. I am not sure if their first album was ever released on vinyl…

Comment by lentil81

Hi my name is Andre and i was the guitarplayer from 91 till 94
Cross the Styxx was written by Ron when i joind them but befor recording i wrote Corridors to the Abyss and that was the my credit for that album.
To correct you i did not leave the band after the first album
After Ron left I wrote Diabollcal for 90 % the rest is credit to Bart who played bass back then.
I left the band after the US tour in 1994 with Cannibal and Cynic.
Nice to see people still like what we did back then
cheers Andre

Comment by Andre

Hi Andre! It’s a great honour to speak to you!!! I know you were still the guitarist on Diabolical, I was talking about Ron when I wrote that he left after the debut. It’s interesting to know that you had written most of the music on that album. As far as I remember, on the CD the music was credited to Sinister as a band so I couldn’t know who wrote what! Diabolical is another masterpiece of death metal and I think that it has influenced the genre much more than it is being acknowledged! The music on this album is way ahead of its time; me and my friends wanted to kill each other each time that riff on Desecrated Flesh came in (the one in the middle of the song after the lyric “…and leave them to ash”). It’s a shame that the genre was deprived of your talent since then…

Comment by lentil81

Hi.i`m sorry i didnt read it correctly
the riffs that Ron came up with was stuff i never heard before,it was also realy hard to learn his stuff in the beginning.
I asked him to move in to my house to sit down and get it in my head and fingers,it took me about six weeks to learn the first album.
we both couldnt read any music so we had to do it like that.
When he left the band i realy had to get used to be the only guitarplayer,,Bart was already in the band by then as a bass player and after some time we got used to it.
My influences where very different then Ron
I was very much influenced by Dark Angel and other thrash bands.
Looking back it was a awsome time,met a lot of very nice people and seen many places.
The first tour i did was with Suffocation in europe and we became good friends and still are today
after that with Cannibal and Deicide,and Ill disposed,and many more.
Thank you for youre support
greetings Andre

Comment by Andre

Hey Andre,

These are some amazing stories from the history of Sinister! Thank you for sharing them here! (Looking forward to receiving your answers)

cheers

Comment by lentil81

Unbelievable!!! I haven’t seen Andre for many many years and by coincidence I read this topic about the old days! Couldn’t agree more! Brilliant days rehearsing in Schiedam Andre!! Also nice to hear that the Infinited and Weapons stuff is well received. Have to thank Aad for the opportunity and you guys for the nice comment. Cheers from under the radar. Ron

Comment by RvdP

Hi Ron, it’s a great honor to have you commenting here on my blog!!! Yes, I though that the Weapons album is a great mix of Slayer attitude with old-school Sinister riffing! The more I listen to it the more I like it. Would be great to see you and Andre making music together again one day!

Comment by lentil81

Also, here’s the interview I did with Andre, in case you want to see what he told us about the early days of Sinister!
https://overgroundscene.wordpress.com/2013/11/10/diabolical-summoning-20-years-on-an-interview-with-andre-tolhuisen/

Comment by lentil81




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