The Gates of Slumber Open Their Hymnal

Take that, dude trying to capture the flag!Just about everything concerning Indianapolis traditional doomers The Gates of Slumber is heavy, from their look (there is nothing more metal than a skullet, and I say that completely without irony or facetiousness) to their riffs, to the artwork and medieval brutality of their lyrics. Seriously, these guys are fucking metal. No counterpoint necessary.

I wasn?t a big fan of Conqueror, their last album, which was released by Profound Lore in 2008 and turns out to have been their breakthrough, but after spending some time with their Rise Above debut, Hymns of Blood and Thunder, and particularly after seeing them live with Zoroaster on the North America is Doomed Tour, I?ve been given a new context in which to understand and appreciate what they?re doing. When these dudes rock out like Candlemass, it?s not retro silliness or hipster bullshit. They might just be the guys who wear Cirith Ungol shirts and actually own the records.

Horns up, man. (Photo by S. Scott Hunter)It?s easy to point out pieces of Hymns of Blood and Thunder and trace them back to their classic doom sources, be it the Scott Reagers-style vocals of guitarist Karl Simon on ?The Doom of Aceldama? or the Wino influence in the later segments of ?Descent into Madness? or the NWOBHM epic feel of ?Beneath the Eyes of Mars,? but The Gates of Slumber blend these elements (and plenty of Sabbath) in such a way as to give them new context. And while the band celebrate their heritage and carry their musical genetics with unabashed pride, the Sanford Parker production helps ensure the modern age isn?t completely forgotten. The tones put to his tape, as ever, come out thick as hell, and compared particularly to their live set, The Gates of Slumber sound even fuller on record, with the drums of ?Iron? Bob Fouts and the bass of Jason McCash balanced in the mix perfectly to let Simon?s impressive and occasionally indulgent solo work shine when it needs to, as on the aforementioned ?Descent into Madness? or the quicker, Priest-ly ?Death Dealer.?

?The Mist in the Mourning? offers coolly delivered Conan-folk and sets up the immediately-following semi-title track closer, ?Blood and Thunder,? with guest female vocals accompanying Simon, acoustic guitar and subtle keyboards. ?Blood and Thunder? boasts more accomplished soloing from Simon and ends the album on a classic metal foothold and fadeout. It?s bound to be on the top 10 lists of many at the end of 2009, and whether that?s more because of trend or the quality of the work, I don?t know, but Hymns of Blood and Thunder is an impressive slab of reborn traditional doom that calls for repeat listenings, fist pumps and much joyous consumption of the ol? hops and barleys. Nothing to complain about.

The Gates of Slumber on MySpace

Rise Above Records

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3 Responses to “The Gates of Slumber Open Their Hymnal”

  1. Mike says:

    You suck. Getting advance copies almost makes me wish I stuck with being a writer and writing these types of reviews. Man, I am so stoked for this album. This fall is shaping up to be a great time for new releases.

  2. Adam says:

    skullet!!! awesome… hahahahah
    eagerly waiting to hear this. \mXm/

  3. […] key of epic. On their latest album and first for Rise Above Records, Hymns of Blood and Thunder (reviewed here), the trio craft a heavy metal classic in the grand tradition of both the grand and the […]

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