Shaman Records, Prosthetic Records (2011)
September 17th, 2010 / June 7th, 2011
Release length: 36:09
One thing that stands out immediately after the introduction on the title track “The Forbidden Gates Beyond” is the audio quality. This is simply superb. The music slams in with some held chords that show off the deep, bass driven sound, and some really fantastic audio levels. The guitars here sort of a duller edge to them, retaining a bit of a sharpness, but still blunt enough that it hits you hard. This works with the already dominating and powerful bass guitar that backs the instrument up and gives the music a crushing, uncompromising sound the second it starts. The atmosphere feels grim thanks to this, and when you throw in the higher rhaspier growls that bark out with authority against some of the best drum audio you could hope to find in a Death Metal release, having rich snares against loud, deep bass thuds and perfectly leveled cymbols that match the rest of the kit, yet still give off more of a commanding sound to the already present tone of the release, you find The Forbidden Gates Beyond becomes a far more intense experience then you originally thought it would be.
The aforementioned title track really sets the tone of the album perfectly. The faster material here just hammers away at the listener to leave him or her feeling helpless against the crushing material. But while the hastened pace of the song works out great for it’s intensity, the song does slow down towards the end and just hammers away with a grueling attack of crushing atmosphere and power before it goes back into a quicker speed to close out the song, transitioned very well in a manner that feels more like song itself is throwing a towel your way to wipe the blood from the attack off you before leading into the more modern sounding Death Metal fury of “Creation of Chaos.” The pounding guitars and drums simply don’t let up and go straight for the juggular with a rhythm so catchy that you’ll want to start a mosh wherever it is you stand, and commend a mandatory headbang when that rhythm transforms into pure brutality and madness. But, aside the sheer aggression the band incorporates into the recording, there’s always that slight hint of hopelessness in the atmosphere of the release.
It’s nice to see the band focus on that aspect of the release, and what is already present in the music is great to hear. “Hallow of Decay” is a brief instrumental interlude that features some desolate sounding guitars against wind, making for a strong environment for “Tyrants” to come into, but not having the two connect in any way does end up hurting things a bit. There’s really no need for “Hallow of Decay” to even be present, and would sound a lot better as a closing track then anything else, especially given the less energetic “Tyrants” that doesn’t quite have the same kind of impact as the previous two songs. Here, the band goes at a generally slow pace that gradually builds throughout. While it’s far from a bad song, the track itself doesn’t really start off to well and can come through a little on the generic side until it does start to expand in aggression. This track also poses a bit of a problem in the fact that there is such an insanely long gap of silence at the end of the track. “Tyrants” fades out completely at five minutes and forty two seconds, but yet the track is six minutes and forty two seconds, giving the listener a full minute of silence. One could argue this is to represent the time to switch sides of the vinyl and put the needle back on the record though, as well as any additional silence on the original pressing. It makes sense, but since we’re not doing that now, there’s really no point in it being there, and it ends up just feeling awkward.
Sadly at this point, the material that Black September presents isn’t quite as powerful, but it’s still pretty good. “The Absence of Life & Death” has some moments to it that don’t quite stand up to what the album started off with, but at the same time it will still have your head banging along through the whole song, especially when the music does pick up with richer sound and atmosphere that hammers away at anyone able to hear it. “Unleashed,” the longest track off the release, also seems to have this problem, but in the end it all seems to boil down to the length. While the band doesn’t necessarily pad it out, there is definitely some passages to this track that, like with “The Absence of Life & Death,” are just not as strong as other portions of the song itself. However, it still has a strong rhythm that will find your head bobbing along to the music at the very least.
01. The Forbidden Gates Beyond – 6:16
02. Creation of Chaos – 4:33
03. Hallow of Decay – 1:18
04. Tyrants – 6:43
05. Tombs – 3:55
06. The Absence of Life & Death – 6:15
07. Unleashed – 7:09
|Overall Score: 8.5/10
Digital review copy of this release provided by Prosthetic Records.