Now, before I go into the album I'm about to review, let's mention Winter and what that band means to me. It was the first doom metal band I've ever heard and I immediately loved them. Their sound never tires and, in my humble opinion, they're still one of the most important doom bands in history. Ever since 'Eternal Darkness' came out, I've been looking for a follow-up. Of course, Winter themselves will never make that album so we have to look elsewhere. Luckily for me, it arrived in my inbox a few days ago.
So let's combine both opening paragraphs and get to the point I'm trying to make here. If you loved Winter's 'Eternal Darkness', you will undoubtedly love Gateway. With downtuned guitars, low to mid-tempo drums and deep, guttural growls, this Belgian one-man act has created something unbelievable. Influenced by the likes of Evoken, Coffins, Mortician and Ahab, this act surpasses most modern day sludge and doom bands and directly inserts himself into the thick, muddy underground of the collective metal memory.
After a short, droney intro, Gateway kicks off with the massive 'Vox Occultus', a mid-tempo song with brilliant downtuned guitars and hammering drums. In some aspect the sound reminds me a bit of Samael but more primitive and raw. When the song slows down and the growling vocals come in, the atmosphere is complete and sets a new limit for heaviness. That heaviness never ceases and it easily reaches Yob or Conan levels at times, if played loud enough.
'Kha'laam' combines that slow, cumbersome weight with grindcore vocals, completely unintelligible but nonetheless impressive. 'Impaled' goes even slower, balancing on the edge between doom and drone metal. Yes, Sunn O))) might be jealous of this song and with good reason, this is a stunning piece of music. Here too some alternations in tempo appear and keep the whole interesting. After all, such a gargantuan sound is not easy to bear for three quarters of an hour, but a little variation certainly helps.
'Corrumpert Interludium' takes on a faster and more melodic approach, something that obviously adds to the variation. Here the old school death metal influences are clearly present, mainly in the strong riffing. Several songs still follow, I'm not going to describe all of them here, mainly because it's more of the same, which sound a lot worse than it really is. 'Vile Temptress' is awesome, that I will say and the others are more than qualified to give the whole a possible spot in my best-of-2015 list, certainly as far as doom metal is concerned.
Inspired by his hometown of Bruges, Gateway succeeded in creating a sonic concept in a horrifying medieval setting. These songs are horror stories, tales about torture and misschief, with an energy-draining soundtrack. All I can say to end this review is this: give this man a band, a tour van and a whole lot of stages and he will roll over Europe like an enormous steamroller. This is a crushing piece of work from a very destructive level and of course comes highly recommended by a very impressed...