If you take some Doom Metal legends and mix them with new kick ass material, what do you get? You get Gates of Slumbers fifth full length album: The Wretch. No point in beating around the bush with this one. I went on the record stating that Pentagram made the best doom record of the year and could accept all challenges for that crown. Well Gates of Slumber stepped in the ring and now are reigning champions for doom record of 2011.
All joking aside Gates of Slumber has created something very special that might be their strongest work since their 1998 formation. Since the beginning of the band they have proven very popular in Europe with extensive tours, but the breakthrough of “Hymns of Blood & Thunder” in 2009 became for me the new measuring stick and saw the band touring North America extensively with the likes of Orange Goblin and Pentagram.
As always you have to wonder when you put on the follow up to a major hit if the band cracked under the pressure or rose to the challenge. Gates of Slumber kicked the shit out of the pressure and delivered an epic album in The Wretch that will become the new standard in which they are judged. For a true doom fan such as myself this was a real pleasure to listen to over the last three weeks and I’m very pleased to be able to tell you a little bit about my favorite tracks on it:
“Bastards Born” starts the album in a very doomy and monotonous tone that tells you right off the bat that Gates of Slumber isn’t going to reinvent the wheel; they are just going to hit you with all the emotional elements that makes doom an incredible genre. The sluggishness of the song and the solo work are two key indicators as to what the album will be all about.
The infectious opening of “The Scrouge ov Drunkenness” and the pounding drum work draws you in right off the bat. The song features a great hook that will play over and over in your head long after the song has ended. I wrote in my notes that this song is doom on a whole new level and I stand by that because the interaction with the listener this song creates is something very different in the genre.
More after the warp:
“Day of Farewell” has no lead in and a very mournful tone. We see the best vocal work from Karl Simon on this song and the rhythm changes behind him highlight that work. The solo work stands out again with booming drum work in the back.
Doom moved forward out of the shadow of Thrash and we see this in the incredible jamming song “Coven of Cain.” I would love to see this song live because of the cool jamming spots from the band that leads into awesome solo work.
In the title track “The Wretch” we see a classic doom song that is driven forward with bass work. The song features some evil and although you don’t know what’s coming next you know it can’t be good. I found this an emotional song and everything that is good about the intellectual side of doom.
Overall this was one of my favorite records to review so far this year. From start to finish it’s a classic doom record that features an unusual amount of listener interaction. To enjoy The Wretch you have to be invested in it and Gates of Slumber does a wonderful job of bringing you into the fold. The Wretch is Gates of Slumber at their best and maybe the first digital tracks I ever wear out!
Show me your horns,
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