A new Power/Thrash band has stepped up: BLACKGATE. Hailing from Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA, the band saw the light of day in November 2013 (according to their Facebook page). Any data on the time before BLACKGATE is currently unknown to mankind. More important is the fact that the band has been working hard the past year to get a first release ready, i.e. a self-titled EP with six tracks, totalling a playtime of a good half hour.
It all begins with “Caesar”. Again? 😉 On offer is fast, Thrashy riffing with of course the rest of the instrumentation following suit. Brutal, devastating Metal is unleashed, clearing the way for firm, straight-forward heaviness with clean vocals to take care of the more melodic side of the matter. Those vocals reminded me, in a way, of Zak Stevens (CIRCLE II CIRCLE, ex-SAVATAGE, …), and that’s a good thing. The music is also reminiscent of the Power Metal of CIIC, ICED EARTH, CROWN THE LOST, maybe a bit of MANTICORA (those Danish masters). The fast, Thrashy music returns in the chorus, which is catchy and headbang-friendly. Feel free to do so, but keep in mind that overdoing it may cause serious problems. Halfway it’s solo time, followed by an ideal moment to let the crowd participate in shouting the words. Back to pedal to the metal then with another solo, before returning to business. So far, a very good start.
“Last Son” is a long track, clocking in after 7.5 minutes. However, where several bands would try to put variation into it, as is the case with several Progressive bands, BLACKGATE follow Doom Metal bands. Not in terms of music, but by making the song longer, by stretching it. Regular playtime could have been around 4 minutes, for example, but by repeating certain parts a bit more, it’s easy to add more seconds and minutes. The song itself commences with a solemn bass line, which is picked up by the guitar and little by little something’s got to give. The Metal kicks in with a hymnic lead. The cannon then spews out firm, energetic Power Metal. Again, the lads wrote a catchy tune. The chorus is a bit more melodic, mainly thanks to the vocals, while the guitars keep on shredding. Despite being extended, it’s an entertaining song.
In “I Am The Night”, the band attacks fast and instantly with fiery Thrash. Like before, David’s clean singing contrasts with the ferocity of the music. No bridge, no fiddling, the chorus follows swiftly, short and easy and to the point. Rapid kickdrum bursts are included. Rhythm is key in this song. There’s a bridge halfway, before the obligatory solo moment. Another qualitative track, in short.
“You Better Run” could have been an ICED EARTH (or DEMONS & WIZARDS) song, as the song is reminiscent of those bands’ style. Or the Jon Schaffer style, as he puts his stamp on both bands through his riffing. The song itself reminded me, partly, of “Terror Train” (by DEMONS & WZIARDS, “Touched By The Crimson King”, 2005). The verses sound a bit dancy, yet are straight-forward. At some point, all falls silent, in favour of a serene solo moment, in vein of e.g. METALLICA. The Thrashy power is restored afterwards, no worries. And so the song shifts between solos, and the regular verses-chorus structure. Good stuff, all in all, but somehow a little less attractive compared to the other songs.
Drums introduce “Love For Lust”, followed by pounding/galopping Power/Thrash Metal in vein of HELSTAR. The bridge, later on, is where things slow down, allowing for a chugging instrumental moment before unleashing the awaited solo (backed by rapid music). Afterwards it’s back to business. Last but not least, there’s “Horizons!”. This is a midtempo song with a certain hymnic kind of rhythm. Clean vocals are as expected, but now have a rougher undertone. The music is pure power, no frills. The tempo does increase pretty soon, but that’s more to put the solo and the bridge in the spotlight. After this relatively short side-step, the slower playing of before is applied again. Instrumental talk is reserved for the last bit of the song. Small drum fills add some extra spice, as does the guitar fiddling in the back.
BLACKGATE is a totally new band, who self-released a totally new, self-titled EP back in September. As described above, the music can be considered as a blend of ICED EARTH, CIRCLE II CIRCLE, HELSTAR, and other similar bands. On this 6-track EP, the lads from BLACKGATE show they’ve got the energy, the drive, the passion to bring it to the people. Qualitative Metal that surely will prove its worth on stage. Contact the band for your copy.
- Last Son
- I Am The Night
- You Better Run
- Love For Lust
David Cuffman – vocals
Matt Cremeans – guitar
Roger Victoriousaccordingly – guitar
Zach Flora – bass
Ryan Lunsford – drums