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True to it's values, yet flat in some ways - 80%

Ov_Cosmic_Pyres, November 3rd, 2012

It's not often you hear metal that is "easy on the ears". Actually, it's rare in today's day and age to have a band so defiantly prone to have as much melody as Sacred Gate does. But melody is what makes music memorable. Surely, if one thing can be said about Sacred Gate it is they are a very melodic heavy metal band, and one who delivers with replay value and excellent guitar work. Taking cues from the legends (Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Helloween, etc), Sacred Gate's style of metal is chock full of riffs you will remember for days and loud, tight bass lines. As with everything else traditional heavy metal, Sacred Gate has a deep affection for cliches and all sorts of metal attributes often scoffed at by the elitists. Do not enter this band's lair if you don't like cheesy lyrics, Iron Maiden worship, nods to ballads and all around metal fun. I will admit I am an elitist when it comes to metal, but this band, and this album is just so incredibly catchy and fun, it's really hard to not like it.

Overall, the songs are superb classic metal songs with a tight, crisp newer production. While not reliant on studio trickery, the band sounds polished and clean, yet aggressive on the same token. If anything, the band sounds more like Maiden's older stuff if it were remastered than anything else. While this may be true for the instrumentation, there is a slight flaw. Vocally, the album does fall a bit flat. Vocalist Jim Over is at times competent for this brand of metal, and at others lacking. He is the former vocalist of Made of Iron, which is exactly what it sounds like, an Iron Maiden tribute band. While Over is certainly no Bruce, nor do I believe he intends to be, the vocals seem to be consistently flatter than the instruments, leaving a gap of melodious intertwining. Luckily though, the vocals are backed up by an impeccable rhythm section that supports a near flawless guitar section. The riffs are sheer metallic excellence. While leaning toward the 1982-1985 era of Maiden, the guitars take influence from nearly any melodic metal band to ever grace the Earth. Some riffs are immediately recognizable as Maiden worship, some Judas Priest love, and then other times it can be either Helloween or even Iced Earth. But this does nothing but help the overall scheme of the album. In essence, this is melodic metal at it's finest. The riffs get your head nodding, and your mind can memorize them almost immediately. What is often lacking in extreme metal is memorability, and for that reason melodic metal is making a resurgence, especially stateside. But these Germans know their classic metal, and execute it with a will and determination even Manowar would be proud of.

As a whole, this album is definable by two things. The searing guitar work and the often flat vocals. If you can stand a vocalist who sounds a bit weak at some times, you will definitely enjoy this album. If this sounds like it would bother you, then this album is definitely not for you. Sacred Gate take what used to be all that was metal, and valiantly march into battle, guitars blazing while waving a flag with Eddie's head on it. If you want a good time, listen to this album. If not, there's plenty more stuff out for you.