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It’s mid 90s. The melodic death metal was growing in the northern lands, especially in Sweden. In Flames were already famous and produced good albums, while new bands were growing like mushrooms in a wood and among these ones we could find Gates of Ishtar too. Their style, at least in their debut, wasn’t yet so definite and clear. They embraced also a lot of influences from another famous band in that period: Dissection.
You can see it also from the titles of the songs and, mostly, you can listen to it in the music. The intro is a good guitars duet in Iron Maiden style with the heaviness of the death oriented distortion. A perfect introduction for one of the greatest tracks here, “Where Winds of Darkness Blows”. Here the Dissection influences are preponderant on the fast parts where the riffage is colder, alternated to sad melodies. The following “The Silence” is even heavier with blast beats and sudden cold and excellent lead guitars parts.
The fast sections are full of lead parts with the aggression of the rhythmic guitars. These parts are full of open chord riffs to create a really devastating and cold atmosphere. This sound is able to recreate perfectly the winter storms. The vocals are mostly black metal oriented with shrieks and this is another point in which we can reflect about the influences. There is always the perfect blend of melodic death metal with melodic black metal passages.
“Tears” is a bit calmer in the tempo, showing good, alternating riffs and truly sad melodies. Here the traditional metal plays the most important part with those guitars duets and the melodic solos which are mostly concentrated on the central part. Another slow song is “The Dreaming Glade” where they throw the fundaments for bands like Skyming and Divine Souls. The riffs are slow, meditative with lots of sad melodies and the arpeggios of the electric guitars.
“When Daylight’s Gone” is a bit more impulsive for the use of some parts on blast beats and slowly bring us to the third and last part of the album that is characterized by a bit faster songs, that anyway, don’t forget about the lead guitars work and the melody that comes along. The sadness and the coldness these songs are able to transmit is something great. The solos are perfect and truly evocative while the rhythmic section is always precise.
The final title track is again characterized by frozen tremolo picking for the guitars and sudden blast beats. This time the Dissection influences are truly dominating, also during the fast bass drum parts. The production itself is great because never too clean but perfect and truly icy. The use of some keyboards sounds and the melodic arpeggios always sends me chills everywhere. All in all, a forgotten classic in a period of growth for the melodic death metal scene in Sweden and a jewel to rediscover for its pureness and sincerity.