Review : THE GATES OF SLUMBER – "Hymns of Blood and Thunder"

The Gates Of SlumberHymns of Blood and Thunder
released September 29, 2009 on Rise Above Records

Retro doom is how these Hoosiers roll.  This is the trio’s fourth album, and they’ve really built a groundswell since their signing with Profound Lore, who released 2008’s Conqueror.  Now on a label owned by Cathedral’s Lee Dorrian, their stars may finally fully align.

Strong parallels to classic masters like Black Sabbath and Candlemass abound. Guitarist/vocalist Karl Simon channels Wino’s throat and Iommi’s fingers in a way that both hearkens the past and piques interest presently. The first pair of hard-chargers are akin to “Neon Knights” in terms of pacing and attitude, and are similarly baited with sharp hooks. They’re adept at slower tempos and longer songs, following with two of the most epic tracks here.  The warm analog production positively radiates from the percussive, keyboard-laced “Beneath The Eyes of Mars” and their unquestionable centerpiece, “The Doom of Aceldama”.

The classy instrumental midalbum marker, “Age of Sorrow” marks a turning point, however. “The Bringer of War” has some great guitar-and-bass interplay, but doesn’t quite ‘bring it’ overall.  And while appreciable dynamics drive “Descent Into Madness”, it’s too repetitive in more ways than one (though the instrumental fills help).  Then it ends with a tune better suited for a Renaissance Faire (“The Mist In The Mourning”) sandwiched between two lackluster tracks, one of which is the near-title track and album closer.

Considering one expects Manowar-levels of cheese by the look of the album cover, Hymns of Blood and Thunder turns out a powerful, passionate statement that easily stands shoulder-to-shoulder on the front lines of the battlefield.

Try 1, 2, 3, *4*

01. Chaos Calling
02. Death Dealer
03. Beneath the Eye of Mars
04. The Doom of Aceldama
05. Age of Sorrow
06. The Bringer of War
07. Descent Into Madness
08. Iron Hammer
09. The Mist In the Morning
10. Blood and Thunder

[xrr rating=3.5/5]

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