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With this release, the gates of the mighty goddess Ishtar closed itself, after releasing 3 albums in 3 consecutive years. Starting in 1992, the band established themselves in the "melodeath" scene with their somewhat generic take on the genre. You can still sense some black here and there and traces of thrash, but nothing out of the ordinary. Don't get me wrong, this doesn't mean they're your average At The Gates-clone, their albums still represent a different sound each, "At Dusk and Forever" taking the most straightforward one.
Straightforward and direct being the slogan, the Album begins with "Wounds". A fast-paced, steady rhythm forms the framework for the crunchy yet melodic riffs. I often hear melodic death being described as "power metal with guttural vocals", while it contains some truth, regardless if it's used in a negative sense, for this album "speed metal with guttural vocals" would be more fitting. And thats what it basically is: a solid and melodic speed metal album with raspy vocals with a blackened touch.
Every track contains catchy riffs and melodies, enough flavor to please the melodic crowd and gritty enough to justify the metal label. With the exception of the last one, they all do stand on their own without standing out, as they all take part in shaping this quite short album. "Forever Beach", the final track, with the first 3 minutes mostly composed with only drums and synthesizers. Then, a long guitar solo kicks in, perfectly accentuating the atmosphere. Despite being an inconsistency in the albums sound, it further adds another layer to this piece of work
Not overly modern, the production is fitting for this brand of music. Trebly yet sharp, distant but close, the sad but still warm atmosphere evokes an image of the sun waiting for the dusk, dispensing melancholy and warmth. Just listen to the last half of "Always", the second-slowest part on the album after "Forever Beach".
In the end, this album provides nothing new. But still, this is one of the rare melodic death releases which doesn't feel like disposable goods. The riffs are plenty, always luring me back. I can't find many faults with it, as it doesn't stray away too much from the formula, which may be its biggest fault, but the formula is executed in all its glory, adding a great release into the average-laden melodic death catalogue. This marks the end of the Gates of Ishtar, a good time to choose to close its gates forever.
I believe that Gates Of Ishtar are one of the most overlooked bands in death metal. There’s no excuse for not knowing them. They started as melodic death metal one with blackened touch during the great first album, to turn into a more At The Gates oriented style in this last album. The production is sharp and all the instruments are brilliant and well audible.
The up tempo, typical of this genres in a track like “Wounds”, are perfectly mixed with more melodic breaks where the band really shows the skills in this genre. The impact is never considered the most important thing in their sound but it’s a natural support to the sad melodies that make this genre and this album a real, small cult.
Every track has a sad melody in the guitars, even if it’s masked under violence and aggressive parts. The refrain on “The Nightfall” is damn good, as the following sad solo. The emotions that these parts give to me is something indescribable; it’s like being in front of a lonely landscape only with your music, reflecting on the sad side of your life. These tracks are always very good and even an excellent one like the title track is blown away by the great “Battles To Come” with a great epic feeling and fast bass drum work.
Even a two minute track like “The Burning Sky” is based on melody even if the drums are on non-stop blast beats. Great fucking melodic death!! There are some keys melodies too that we can find on “Never Alone Again” along with good tempo changes and if you can go beyond the blast beats on “Always” you can really hear great heartbreaking melodies with a despair break from the middle to the end.
“Forever Beach” is a sort of keys/guitars outro that sets end to a small cult in the underground that any melodic death metal fan should at least have heard talking about.
As if you didn't already know, Gates of Ishtar are a very underrated band. It seems like no one I talk to knows or has heard of them, which is a shame because they were an extrememly talented and stylish band. Let me describe their style a bit. They basically play a type of melodic death metal that is no holds barred, by that I mean they pull out all the stops on most every song and forge ahead constantly, keeping the fast thrash pace throughout most of the entire song. Of course, they mix it up once in a while, but overall...you get the idea. Think a mixture of Dissection and Razor. It's had a pretty unique sound actually. Basically if you're a fan of REAL melodic death metal (I'm not talking about the new Bodom album here) that is creative and inventive, you'll probably like these guys.
Now, I've heard all three of their albums (have yet to hear the demo though) and I'd have to say this one is probably the thrashiest out of the three. Not to say it's less original or anything, It just keeps up the no holds barred feel more than the other albums. Hell, I might even call this their defining album (by this time It seems like they had really nailed their style down). This is the kind of album you can listen to the whole way through and enjoy every minute. I'd be hard pressed to pick the best songs, but I think most would agree "Wounds" "The Nightfall" and "Battles To Come" are probably the most memorable, the first two being very pummeling yet highly emotional high-speed riff fests and the later being a very cool and melodic speed metal song.
Overall, if you're a fan of melodic death metal that's fast, thrashy, and epic in scale, check this, or any of their other albums out. You wont be dissapointed.