I'm continually astonished at the number of creative and unsigned metal bands around the world. Canada's Gates Of Winter is representative of those bands. This band is young, not only in recording and performance experience, but also age, averaging out at only 23 years old. However, age has nothing do with talent, experience and, certainly not, desire. This band plays with a creativity and maturity found in bands ten to twenty years beyond their collective history. 'Lux Aeterna' is there first full length work and proves that this crew has the imagination and ambition to, not only succeed, but excel at their craft.'
'Lux Aeterna' means 'eternal light' in latin, and this work sheds light on the progressive metal genre. I was impressed from the opening notes of 'Life Force Rapture' by the excellent production of this self-financed project. One sign of sterling production is the clarity of the bass line. Steve Furgiuele's bass is not buried on this song nor on the rest of the album. Too many times the bass and the entire rhythm section is buried in the production, almost as a side note; but this is not the case with Gates Of Winter.
At first, I was unmoved by Lee Maines' vocals only because, as regular readers know, I'm not a fan of dirty or harsh vocals. Yet, after several listens I'm incredibly impressed with Mr. Maines' depth of passion. Sure, he's singing his mostly his own lyrics; but why not be inspired and sing with great enthusiasm. I still struggle with harsh vocals; but in Maines case, I can easily make an exception. And the basic reason for this is that the lyrics are so good. I'm nearly convinced that the lyrical content drives the musical arrangements, and that's a good thing. Before moving on to the songs, allow me to recognize the excellent musicianship of guitarist Bryan Belleau and keyboardist Brian Holmes (his piano work is exceptional). Drums were supplied by Jon Harvey and he is very good.
The most significant piece on 'Lux Aeterna' is the trilogy 'Burning Kingdom.' On these three cuts you hear the breadth of creative composition and musicianship. Every member excels brilliantly. Kudos to Mr. Maines and Mr. Belleau on this thrilling work. Another fine cut is 'Omega' where Maines is superb on vocals and Belleau delivers some stunning guitar work. Additionally, I would recommend 'The Wildwood Pariah' because the opening is epic, symphonic, and the entire song is nearly hymn-like. Mr. Holmes' keyboards are mysteriously compelling. Finally, 'Winterflight' is a great song; it drives along like a Sonata Arctica piece, heavy, yet vibrant.
Gate Of Winter may be new and untested, but they have the material and talent to deliver great melodic progressive metal. In short, these guys are good and they have a bright future. All they need is some recognition. I would say fire up your internet connection and buy this album wherever it may be found. Highly recommended!
- Craig Hartranft
Canadians should be proud this day for Gates Of Winter heralds a new movement of melodic progressive metal that should echo around the world. This band is very good easily performing progressive metal with acumen and passion.
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