without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
Back to Italy again where the fans will become acquainted with another representative of the highly original, inventive pleiad of Italian metal acts of the new millennium. A very talented trio named Beyond the Gates who have chosen the extreme progressive/technical metal path to tread and, unlike many outfits who have gotten lost in their own, self-made maze these folks actually do deliver exactly what is expected: a multi-layered canvas where all the influences merge together for the creation of a truly compelling listening experience…
The base for their style is definitely technical death metal, but expect to come across black, a shade of hardcore, progressive and quite a bit of thrash as well the assisting genres never becoming dominant for a large stretch of time, but by all means leaving their “signature” whenever duly applied. The band don’t have a lot of history left behind them their four appearances so far contained within less than two years, all the instruments played by a guy named Andrea who also uses the services of two vocalists who “quarrel” throughout on the debut “Soul Crisis” EP, one mean screechy (think Kelly Schaeffer from Atheist), the other gruffer and guttural (think David Vincent from Morbid Angel), amidst a melee of schizoid mazey riff-formulas which would make even acts like Gorguts and Vektor sit down and listen with care.
A few months later the band are ready with their full-length, the album reviewed here. The memories of the infernal complexity of the EP are still freshly engraved into the listener’s consciousness, and he/she has second thoughts before getting exposed to another overwhelming slab of very intricately woven metal. And he/she has all the rights to be anxious about this recording… How the band got out of this musical “lunacy” unscathed is beyond me, and beyond any possible gates, be they wooden, or iron, or steel. The opening “Panic” starts shredding without any warning (a tiny static noise intro comes before it) with the utmost precision crazy fast-paced passages “crossing swords” with slower twisted ones for about 2.5-min although the fan will be under the impression that he/she had listened to at least 7-min of the most complex metal composed of recent times. “Collision” is surreal heavy guitars with a touch of industrial which flow into another stylized technical “skirmish” later; sounds like a sketch for something bigger and encompassing, but... “The Fury” unleashes a “fury” of fast lashing riffage played with stupendous, surgical mathematical accuracy; Necrophagist would find it hard to match that, the guitar acrobatics only becoming more impressive until they reach the quiet interlude in the middle which in its turn is followed by a sweeping bombastic black metal passage.
“The Madness”… “The Madness”; no, I’m not raving here, this is the title of the next cut which opens with a most amazing surreal, atonal technical section in mid-pace; that same motif is turned into a speedy crescendo in a way quite similar to Coroner’s “Metamorphosis” from “Mental Vortex”; expect the unexpected later with myriads of labyrinthine textures arriving in quick succession giving the mentioned Swiss masters a very good run for their money all the way to the end including another portion of almost backwards surreality as a finishing touch; arguably one of the ten finest technical metal compositions ever. “Cerebral Limits” knows no “limits” with its insane chaotic structure which transforms from maddening technical death metal to well organized shredding thrash within the space of 2-min, before it reverts to less controlled death metal-ish riffs the cannonade wrapped on by a calm spacey passage. “Divine Suffering” continues the trend for spasmodic abrupt beginnings, another nod to Coroner with the initial storm of ultra-technical guitars (title-wise it could be a reference to “Divine Step” from “Mental Vortex” again?), but more surprises follow suit with the abstract Voivod-ish mid-section, and the next in line hectic riff “salad” in the second half the latter relieved by another peaceful moment at the end.
Comes “Twilight” with merry uplifting rhythms, nothing like the allusions made with the title, and vortex-like arrangements which come served with jarring sterile guitars ala Atheist’s “Elements” this intricate cavalcade erupting into a brilliant melodic passage; no technicality lost later as the band close with another mind-scratching stroke. “Amnesia” will erase all memories about all the technical death/thrash you’ve listened previously this number creeping unobtrusively with meandering, not extremely elaborate at first, rhythms, but do not make a mistake here; it’s only an illusion as the guys’ psychotic riff-formulas unwind in all their magnificence in no time before a cosmic progressive break takes over giving way to an appetizing “leads vs. riffs” epitaph. “The 25th Hour” is the hymn, the anthem, a linear melo-death rouser the guys spacing out a bit in the middle, but nothing inordinately complex here. It’s a “calm before the storm”, as one will see once the next “Andromeda” begins in the most sudden manner the guys stirring another spiral of super-intricate riffage ala Atheist which grows into mechanical blast-beats exploding under a wall of some of the finest technical licks released in the new millennium; pure bliss which continues in a less spastic speed/thrashing fashion in the second half this stride “broken” by surreal, progressive motifs with echoes of Theory in Practice. A well deserved break, for both the musicians and the fans, comes in the form of the superb classical/ambient instrumental “Swedishhh (Silver Tear)” which closes the album.
The band have their eyes fixed up towards the sky, both text and music-wise; their lyrics deal with exploring other universes, galaxies and dimensions. Music-wise they pretty much hit the top here, too; this is easily one of the five best technical/progressive metal, thrash, death and otherwise, albums since the beginning of the new millennium. Within the span of several months Andrea and Co. have matched the output of luminaries from their homeland like Sadist, Illogicist, Coram Lethe, Goldenseed, Glacial Fear, Gory Blister… An amazing feat which also sees them having matured so fast that it would be hard for one to see where they could go next. On the other hand, one may dispute the album’s merits provided that the music has been composed by just one person who didn’t have any interference from the outside world to present his visions. Well, whether one or five musicians have been involved in the creative process becomes a redundant polemic; this is very far from the one-dimensional computerized (all machines and no humans) charades which have become so widespread in the hi-tech age. As a matter of fact, one would hardly know that there is only one person performing all the instruments; the only minor flaw is the absence of the bass on some tracks, but the guy can’t be blamed for overlooking Steve DiGiorgio’s tool engrossed in weaving those psychotic, infinitely technical musical tapestries…
I really tried hard to like the band’s next instalment; I listened to it multiple times (front to back, back to front, with/without headphones, at home, in the car, etc.), and yet I was unable to integrate this album into my bloodflow. Some crowds out there may consider it a masterpiece, but these ears remained largely unaffected by its more ambitious, conceptual design. To put it briefly, Andrea’s infatuation with the skies’ mysteries continues with “Zodiac”, released a few months later, which not surprisingly contains twelve compositions, one for each zodiac sign. If the man has gotten tired on his previous very intricate exploits then one shouldn’t blame him for taking a rest making this mechanical, sterile recording which is equal parts the Greek Cerebrum (think “Cosmic Enigma”) and the Spanish Wormed (think “Krighsu”) this futuristic amalgam spiced with several more aggressive thrashy ingredients in the spirit of Altered Aeon and Biomechanical. It’s modern progressive thrash/death, for the lack of better description, and this time one can easily spot the one-man-does-it-all configuration due to the artificial atmosphere. The technical explosions from the preceding opus are almost non-existent, and this constellation ode sounds quite plain by technical standards, and too carefully arranged without any spontaneous outbursts of lunar… sorry, lunatic genius.
Certainly, nothing is finite in Andrea’s camp yet, and the man carries on with his exploration of the Cosmos. His inevitable encounter with the Universal Mind during one of his quests could be the reason for the creation of another interstellar saga like this inhuman/human one… Or could it be the achievement of his ultimate goal, to be transported to the mythical Demented Musicians’ Galaxy light years away from here…