Friday, April 29, 2011

The Gates of Slumber - The Wretch

The Gates of Slumber
The Wretch
Rise Above/Metal Blade

Like every other musical genre, heavy metal has been hybridized almost to death. Not that mixing styles isn’t a good thing – that’s where innovation comes from, after all. But sometimes you just wanna get heavy, play air guitar and feel your ribcage rattle. If you want a traditional doom-mongering, dinosaur-destroying, Sabbathian stomp, you won’t get much better than the Gates of Slumber. The Indianapolis trio hit a real peak with its last LP Hymns of Blood and Thunder, and if its new record The Wretch doesn’t quite scale the same heights, it’s still a strong showing. This band has always been about the riff – rumbling, crushing, heavy – but it never loses its deathgrip on melody, either. Few bands can be as unrelenting and still be as accessible as the G of S – spin Day of Farewell, Coven of Cain and To the Rack With Them for some seething singalong kicks. While the rhythm section keeps the lava flowing, it’s really singer/six-stringer Karl Simon’s show – his warm, amp-shaking licks and gruff but soulful vocals define each track like the devil’s dictionary. This is what you want when you want to headbang without guilt - plug The Wretch into your stereo, put on a black t-shirt and get those horns in the air.

- Michael Toland

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