GATES OF TYRANT – Vortex Towards Death (2020)REVIEW

Possession of the black flame, and never by it — Sparked by the source of all inspiration, a gift of Set that blazes within is coiling up to thy knotting, dispassionate throat demanding its darkest kundalini writhe and spiral outward the flesh. Cajole your Self into realization by electric Shakti and ruinous chaos alight in crackling bewilderment by way of independent existence or, merely imagine the freedom of your shearing away all spiritual encasement in service to none. Shatter gates and summon portals via Santiago, Chile’s best-hidden honorable geist Gates of Tyrant who conjure collective melodic majesty by the will of Setian fire on their debut full-length ‘Vortex Towards Death’. The quartet summon the deepest, most resonant heart of classic melodic black metal on this grand occasion, spilling of the most divine blood imaginable as their summons realize.

If you are familiar with the more orthodox or classically inspired melodic black metal sects within Chile you may recognize members of Gates of Tyrant from their gig as the rhythm section for Selbst‘s live gigs beyond his first album in 2017 or you’ll recognize drummer JPC’s session work on that same band’s debut on Debemur Morti coming up later this month. I only mention this in detail because it makes great sense to compare the two bands by way of their approach to ‘new old school’ melodic black metal where early Swedish (or Norwegian) forms are applied atop modern-isms from now additionally classic recency from Mgła. The shorthand most often applied to this type of approach is ‘atmospheric melodic’ black metal which takes on austerity rather than deeply gothic or satanic notions. It also bears mention that N. of Selbst provides a guitar solo on brilliant opener “Liberation Ceremony”.

Gates of Tyrant differ for the sake of their occult atmosphere, subtle as it may be, which retains the feeling of old classics rather than over-polishing the render to the point of dry, commercial absurdity (see: Aversio Humanitas). You could hear the roots of this more earthen, soil-churning spiritus back on their demo (‘Gates of Tyrant‘, 2014) several years ago when current Xul ov Kulten drummer C.I.R.R. was on the kit. Today the Gates of Tyrant sound is smoother in motion but still just as jagged and expressive thanks to snarled vocal presence. The major point of forward movement, progression and higher calling comes from stronger rhythm guitar voicing and heavier use of melodic leads to shape those shapes into long-form phrases. Some of this is typical in texture but inspired in terms of compositional interest. Performances are heightened to a fighting, rapturous level of force that will instantly speak to folks who’ve long called to the ancient and most ruthless slip-streams of riff from the early-to-mid 90’s melodic black metal movements. The end result is closer to the first couple of Uada records than it is to say, recent Sargeist but they’re really not so far off that you’d miss my point.

Fluidity, aggression, and strongly memorable melodic statements are much harder to come by than bands missing one of this trinity of required alchemical ingredient. Any band can figure out the right amp and tremolo technique to sound a bit like ‘Far Away From the Sun’ with some work but to write meaningful pieces that are more than just dryly anthemic exercises with imitative progressions is beyond the majority who’ve ever tried. At several points on ‘Vortex Towards Death’ the trinity cleaves open the experience with bursts of brilliance I’d honestly not been expecting, the most powerful of which is “Wishing Death”. The yearning, abyss-thrown soul of this piece is entirely special, the sort of song that’d bring color to tightly shut eyes and shock the body limp with existential anxiety dripping from it like sweat. Thought it is followed by a less bold melodic statement, the sensation of passage from one piece’s direction to the next finds Gates of Tyrant drawing ever steeper angles downward with each song. They’ve worked tirelessly on these songs since their self-titled demo and being able to see that refinement applied to those tracks (“Demoniac”, “The Mystery of Death”, and 2016 single track “Servant of the Black Flame”) helps to present ‘Vortex Towards Death’ as more than a debut but a progression reached through work, insight and some unholy inspiration.

Though it’d been easy to miss this release back in April no doubt it was worth giving a chance beyond the screaming feedback of its opening moments. Gates of Tyrant’s debut offers truly entrancing melodic black metal that brings the oldest, most serious traditions unto modern lucidity. The riffs are not all carved from the godhead but nonetheless it deserves a high recommendation, particularly for folks attuned to atmospheric/melodic black metal hybridization.

High recommendation.

Rating: 8 out of 10.
ARTIST:Gates of Tyrant
TITLE:Vortex Towards Death
LABEL(S):Putrid Cult
RELEASE DATE:April 8th, 2020
BUY/LISTEN/STREAM:Bandcamp [Digital] | Putrid Cult Store [CD]
GENRES:Black Metal

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