|Born from the ashes of revered French underground metal acts Daemonium, Akhenaton and late 80's French death metal pioneers Mutilated, The Seven Gates oughtn't to be mistaken with the almost homonymous Italian Power metal colleagues Seven Gates.
That said, the work performed by the Transalpine act achieves remarkable peaks thanks to a steady aim at the glorious 80's Death metal bands, partly reutilizing old songs that appeared on the 2006 "All Is in All" demo and in the 2007 "Gehenna's Sword" EP.
The cover, the lyrics and the Spartan artwork on the CD itself already hint the deep connection with the CD printing style during the 80's and early 90's that Metal Blade and Roadracer/Roadrunner used to adopt.
Between Hate Eternal and Suffocation, the title-track attacks immediately, showing a perfect marriage between guitar and drums; destined to be requested live unceasingly.
"Pressure" feels the imprinting of Morbid Angel in the axe solos and the blasts, while the rest is not too far from the early Pestilence. The vocals are yet different, more battle-like.
Containing a few references to Malevolent Creation, "Gehenna's Sword", differs owing to extremely thin sounds, another clue that even the recording was intentionally as close as possible to the eighties ones, with two panoramic mics, placing the cymbals in the background with the exception of the hi-hat; superb is the guitar solo, inspired and original.
Probably due to the maximum fury that most bands own when they start their career, "All Is in All" conquers the palm of more brutal song of the 10-track list. The duty is paid to Angelcorpse and Demented Ted this time, but the solo and the top-notch drumwork will make you forget about these details (altho we need to see what the future releases will hold, as the drummer has been replaced after the recording).
Definitely Morbid Angelesque from begin to end, "The Serpent's Wheel" turns out to be the record highlight, whereas "Selen" is a mysterious, threatening and atmospherical instrumental composition placed in the middle so as to increase the contrast with the neck-breaking "Quake of the Hammer"; like all the songs written by bassist and vocalist Vincent it shows the awe and tribute toward Trey Azagthoth, notwithstanding modern and mesmerizing breaks close to the latest Napalm Death, and a few riffs mentioning Amon Amarth.
A successful example of how to combine the tradition of Floridian death metal and the more recent evolution started by Dying Fetus, whereas a special description has to go to "No Salvation"; this song reminds of Judecca, a very unknown band of short life in the early 90s, mixing Cannibal Corpse, Dismember, Morgoth and Thrash metal. In this case it's pretty unlikely to see influences from that combo, and it seems proper the term coincidence, probably due to the fact the two bands' members belong to the same generation and therefore have a common background. Anyway, praise to the closure, alternating accelerations and slow-downs, and most of all the excellent solo, rich in chiaroscuros and skill. It's a shame the guitar solos are not credited, but I can assure you the guy handling this instrument really stands out like few soloists within Extreme metal.
"Kingdom of the Lost" is entrusted with the final siege to our eardrums, mixing Morbid Angel-like parts with early Sepultura and Konkhra.
Without creating anything new, the French 4-piece have assembled 10 tracks sounding like come out between 1989 and 1994, that is the most fecund period and the best years for crunching wicked old school Death metal.
That's why it's recommended if you miss records of this kind; hurry up and order the album, all the more reason since the first copies come out with a bonus DVD including 2 promo videos and a pro live-set.
MARKUS GANZHERRLICH - April 29th, 2009
Line-up on this record:
Vincent Urbain - bass & vocals (also in Winds of Sirius, Akhenaton from France, Daemonium from France, Amaymon)
Adrien Madrignac - guitar (also in the Oath from France)
Michel Dumas - guitar (also in Winds of Sirius, Mutilated from France, Mutilator from France, Imbecilator, Abyssals)
Régis Cognard - drums (also in the fusion metal band Auspex from Mâcon)
Mâcon, Burgundy - France
Official sites: http://www.myspace.com/thesevengates
-All Is in All (demo - 2006)
-Gehenna's Sword (MCD - 2007)
-Suffering Live (DVD - 2008)
- Angel of Suffering (CD - 2009)