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Arctic Flame: Guardian at the Gate
Arctic Flame Gauardian at the Gate album new music review

Arctic Flame: Guardian at the Gate

(Classic) Heavy/Power Metal
3.0/5.0

There's good reason to listen to a new recording more than once before review. Such is the case for New Jersey's Arctic Flame and their third long player, Guardian at the Gate. This album passed as merely mundane and difficult on the first listen. As much affection as I have for classic heavy metal, not everything that crosses my desk raises to lofty heights. But this cadre of old school metallers give a gallant effort. A second listen proved more valuable.

From the start early Eighties metal is resurrected within both My Little Slice of Hell and Guardian at the Gate. Notes of heaviness, even a doomish, quality are evident, thanks to the sometimes plodding pace. Both try to sound epic, but with the latter seems redundantly too long. This my also characterize the closing piece, The Eternal. It trudges along for more than three minutes at a disturbingly difficult pace, almost enough to hit the skip or fast forward button. However, it gets a tad brisk at that mark, which leads to a crushing guitar solo around six to seven minutes in. Ultimately, it feels that song arrangements are doing battle with lyrical storytelling for control of these pieces.

In between beginning and end, not everything is measured this way. Raise Your Glasses and Bloodmotor invoke the cleverness and clarity that allowed peers Judas Priest to make metal accessible. The instrumental Falkenfels merely shows Arctic Flame's classic metal credentials. Better is The Creeper, which offers a Priest meets Maiden well-paced melodic metal arrangement. Next to the title track it's probably the best song here.

There's plenty to mine from Arctic Flame's Guardian at the Gate especially if you rouse your spirit of patience and expectation. However, this album will likely be better received by those for whom classic old school heavy metal is their first great love.






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In Short

There's plenty to mine from Arctic Flame's Guardian at the Gate especially if you rouse your spirit of patience and expectation. However, this album will likely be better received by those for whom classic old school heavy metal is their first great love.

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