The Gates of Slumber – The Wretch (Rise Above/Metal Blade Records)

Friday, 22nd March 2013
Rating: 8.5/10

Just when you think Indiana’s The Gates of Slumber are going to move into one direction, they spin a curve headlong back to their doom metal roots with their fifth full length studio sojourn The Wretch. In today’s market, predicting what directions artists will take is a worse proposition than being a meteorologist – all the elements can come together for rain in one area but a blizzard a few miles away. You see on 2009’s Hymns of Blood and Thunder, the trio began veering into traditional frameworks which had many guessing they would possibly become America’s answer to Grand Magus.

How wrong we would all be, as the opening duo of tracks “Bastards Born” and “The Scourge ov Drunkenness” lumber with the heaviness that the all mighty Beelzebub can summon in homage to acts like Saint Vitus, Pentagram or other like-minded doom artists from America. Bassist Jason McCash penetrates your eardrums with that deep, thick bottom end sound through standouts like “Day of Farewell” and the relatively up-tempo “Coven of Cain.” Guitarist/vocalist Karl Simon holds his double duty delivery with the sureness a leader must have going into an intimidating battle, peeling off thunderous riffs, heroic solos and melodies with waves of anguish, sorrow and pain.

The ending 12:44 piece “Iron and Fire” proves The Gates of Slumber exceed epic expectations as drummer J.Clyde Paradis has the task to play at plodding paces while still giving the song its cohesive groove glue. The production keeps the songs stripped-down without much computer enhancement, almost as if you’ve taken a time warp back 35 years.

Straight doom isn’t for the weak or weary, but the payoff is certainly life altering, mesmerizing and keeps the heart of the movement alive and thriving. The Gates of Slumber with The Wretch eye the upper echelon of the genre.

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