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From dawn till dusk - 83%

iLamer, October 19th, 2012

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.