Sunday 3 February 2013

REVIEW: The Gates of Slumber - Stormcrow (EP)

By: Richard Maw

Album Type: EP
Date Released: 29/01/2013
Label: Scion Av Presents



“Stormcrow” DD track listing

1) Death March (5:50)
2) Driven Insane (5:36)
3) Son of Hades (6:11)
4) Dragon Caravan (5:06)
5) Of That Which Can Be (7:55)

The Review

The Gates Of Slumber follow up their excellent thudding opus of 2011 “The Wretch” with this five track EP of pure doom. For “Stormcrow” 'Iron' Bob Fouts is back behind the kit in place of Cool Clyde and his playing works well with the new material, just as Clyde's more straight ahead approach worked well with “The Wretch.” Other than this line-up change, it is business as usual in TGOS camp.

“Death March” opens things on a suitably sombre note, the pace is that of a snail, the vocals mournful, the bass rumbling, the solo- just after the four minute mark- superb. The emotion in Karl Simon's voice shines through and proves yet again that he carries the torch of true doom passed through the ages by Ozzy, Wino et al.  “(Devil's Grip) Driven Insane” opens with a strong drum groove with a nice thick yet live sound. When the layered guitars kick in with the distorted bass it is clear how much time Sanford Parker put into producing this and that he has the tones just right. The vibe is pure Vitus, the main riff infectious and the groove sits in the pocket very well. A burst of pace can be found after a few minutes and the rhythm section performs particularly well with Jason McCash's bass lines pinning together the sound fluidly. The “Sabbathian fast bit” is a tried and tested method in doom- but one not used to great effect much these days. It is good to see it back and acting as a bridge to the close of the song with a return to the central refrain- songwriting is not dead yet!

“Son of Hades gives the listener a kind of mid paced chug with strong vocal hooks and creeping riffs. Worth noting is the shift to lyrics of a perhaps more personal nature in latter day material by this superb band. They appear more personal- albeit told in allegory and metaphor- than earlier albums such as “Suffer No Guilt” or “Conqueror”. Emotional heft has always been one of doom's strengths so this shift in lyrical focus is welcome and effective. Solos abound as the track progresses as the rhythm section keeps the pace and groove going well. A slower tempo follows with an effective chant and we are on to the penultimate track.

“Dragon Caravan” sounds like the title implies; lumbering, heavy with danger lurking everywhere. The riffs snake around appropriately with the guitars weaving in a rather melancholy way. The lyrical tale of frailty and weakness is a great companion piece to the downward musical spiral that the listener experiences. The guitar and bass of a three piece line-up often have more room to breathe and utilise creativity and such is the case here; McCash's role is crucial.

“Of That Which Can Never Be” finishes the EP in crushing style; doomy crashing chords herald in nigh on eight minutes of despair and creeping dread. Simon's voice carries the song along with a melodic performance of depth and power. Indeed, this closing track is perhaps closest in tone to earlier records. Make no mistake, though, this EP represents another progression in TGOS's sound and style. Each release has been different, whether by sidestepping or moving forwards, but the sound of the band is always recognisable. With more and more bands ploughing the doom furrow, this is no mean feat in itself.

If you like your doom traditional and very much METAL then this EP should be checked out immediately. To assist you Scion A/V are giving the download away for FREE! Just click the link, download, listen and enjoy.I assume that hard copy formats will also be available soon; I would buy the vinyl for the artwork alone, let alone the music. A CD copy for the car wouldn't go amiss either... The band gives you something, it is only fair that you give back. Doom on.

Band info: Facebook || Official