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Creative, distinguished, masterful * - 85%

Blizzard Beast, December 4th, 2017
Written based on this version: 2017, CD, Xtreem Music

It's good to see that certain things never change. Born from the ashes of the cream of the crop of Sinister's classic lineup, Neocaesar is a Dutch band that is impossible to ignore not only because of the historical legacy that its members carry on their shoulders but also because "11:11" represents the true essence of old-school death metal. Neocaesar's core consists of vocalist Mike van Mastrigt (Sinister's lead singer from 1988 to 1996) and guitar player Bart van Wallenberg (Sinister's bassist and guitar player from 1992 to 2002) and is reinforced on the bass by Michel Alderliefsten (Sinister's bass player in 1996) and on drums by Eric de Windt (Sinister's lead singer from 1997 to 1999), so what could go wrong? Not much, actually.

The intro "Initium Novum" sends us straight to "Hate," Sinister's last classic dating back to 1995, and any resemblance to "Hate" is not mere coincidence. Runner-up"From Hell" eclipses any remaining questions about the nature of "11:11" - it's a furious and fiery death metal record that foams at the mouth with rage, the kind of album that only the old masters still know how to make and that can be considered a lost art. Coming up next is "Victims of Deception", where the pace slows down only to invest in the always thriving megalithic density of the guitars, always tuned the old-Sinister style, but also crystal clear and played with deep enjoyment. Both bass and drums also follow the same tracks that Sinister did, with that special touch that would make any death metal fan recognize the band just by the type of its sound, much like one identifies the unique voice of James Hetfield or the unique drumming style of Dave Lombardo.

"Angelic Carnage" throws us headfirst against a wall of strategically inserted blastbeats, as opposed to 90% or more of the drums of today's death metal bands competing to see which one gets more bpm at the expense of heart. Although everyone can play very fast with practice, the same can not be said of having enough heart to compose a good album and this is where Neocaesar stand out. "Sigillorum Satanas", an instrumental and the penultimate track of the album, makes way for "Blood of the Nephilim", an epic moment weighing in almost eight minutes and with which the band mixes slowness and speed, aggressiveness and melody, riffs and an inspired solo that stays in our head (a rare thing these days), not to mention vocals that could belong to none other than van Mastrigt.

"11:11" is the fruit of four talented musicians who even though have been away from the main stages of the scene for years, managed to resurface at the end of 2017 and release a noteworthy album. On the other hand, one can imagine what Sinister would be today if the successor of "Hate" was "11:11", such is the similarity (for the better) of the latter with the first. "11:11" is very well capable of bringing a nostalgic tear to Sinister's most loyal fans and can certainly grab less experienced death metal fans who prefer unrestrained purity and aggression instead of fads where speed is queen and inspiration is peasant.

* Originally published in Portuguese on http://ultraje.pt/neocaesar-1111-nota-8-510/.