Altered Since Birth 1990-2010

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This ten-disc (nine CDs and one DVD) box gathers the first eight studio albums by the Dutch death metal band Sinister, and adds a live DVD recorded in 2006 and a collection of their demos and early singles. There's not a whole lot of evolution to chart, but it's obvious from a single listen that they were impressive all along. On their debut album, 1992's Cross the Styx, they were blazingly fast, but occasionally dipped into downtuned chugging. The second album, Diabolical Summoning, was a more midtempo, brutal effort; the songs got longer and heavier. On 1995's Hate, they moved in more of a speed-metal direction, with more intricate guitar work, and covered Celtic Frost's "To Mega Therion." Album number four, 1998's Aggressive Measures, continued to blend speed, thrash, and death metal to impressive effect. The band's next full-length release, 2001's Creative Killings, marked a major change, as they brought in a female vocalist, Rachel, who proved just as capable of guttural growling as her male peers, and stuck around through 2003's Savage or Grace. On 2006's Afterburner, the group got really ambitious, playing progressive thrash songs like "Presage of the Mindless" and "Flesh of the Servant" that neared the eight-minute mark. And on 2008's The Silent Howling, they surpassed even that achievement with the ten-minute title track. This nicely packaged box, which includes a thick bookful of lyrics, photos, and a history of the band, is a terrific gift for fans of Sinister, a band that, based on this evidence, deserves more attention than it's gotten over the years.