Going Beyond Expectations With Beyond The Gate
Friday, March 18, 2011 1 Comment
For fans of: The Faceless, Between the Buried and Me, Through the Eyes of the Dead, The Black Dahlia Murder, Opeth, All Shall Perish, etc.
Every so often, I walk into a record store with the intent of finding something new. Not just some new run of the mill band that plays the same riffs I’ve heard a dozen times already, but something entirely new. Well, something led me to pick up Wretched’s Beyond the Gate on a whim, and it was definitely one of my favorite and most dynamic albums of 2010. And, no, it’s not just because they shared all but two letters as the name of our site.
Beyond the Gate is just the second release from the North Carolina-based melodic death metal group. The album is both crushingly heavy and melodically catchy, and not in a cliché on-and-off-again kind of way. Guitarists Steven Funderburk and John Vail have some of the most impressive songwriting I’ve seen come out of such a young metal band. They’ve found a way to come up with memorable and catchy riffs WHILE staying heavy, which so many bands are unable to do these days. I can’t remember the last time I’ve heard such memorable moments out of a contemporary death metal/deathcore band. I’m using the term death metal very loosely here, it’s only the use of vocalist Billy Powers’ guttural lows, shrieking highs, and dark and ominously narrated lyrics that push the band into this category, in my opinion. Death metal bands generally aren’t this bold in their songwriting.
You see, Wretched aren’t afraid to be daring in their songwriting approach. Often you’ll hear the band come out of crushing breakdowns and blast beats, only to go into an acoustic, flamenco style of guitar playing, or middle-eastern inspired interludes. The musicianship in this band is truly outstanding, especially evident in the album’s instrumental tracks. “On the Horizon” is a completely orchestral song smack in the middle of the album. Normally these kinds of songs bore me because they’re often very similar and one-dimensional. Vail, who is credited in writing this overture (performed by a real orchestra!), demonstrates changes in moods, from darker, minor tones to brighter, major tones full of swells and crescendos composed so well that it’ll make you forget you’re listening to a death metal album.
I still don’t know what the hell a Cimmerian Shamballa is, so don’t ask.
Following that track is a two-part instrumental piece, and is honestly my favorite part of the album. The exceptional guitar work is front and center: the complimenting guitars going back and forth between classical and metal riffs are incredible. You really need to hear these songs to understand how well written and downright awesome they are. Not to say the guitar work isn’t equally as impressive throughout the rest of the album, every song has handfuls of catchy leads and riffs that will definitely catch you off guard. The band’s first single, “Cimmerian Shamballa” features one of the coolest leads over a breakdown on the album that will have Between the Buried and Me fans thinking back to when they heard Alaska for the first time.
If you’re a fan of extreme metal that’s often bored by the same cookie cutter breakdowns and blast beats, you need this album. Beyond the Gate is such a breath of fresh air for today’s metal scene. In a time where most bands are too concerned with how brutal they can make their next one-note breakdown, bands like Wretched truly shine. Go out and pick up this album today, and if you dig it, Wretched will be playing at the New Parish in Oakland Saturday, March 26th, as well as three other California dates that week.
“Cimmerian Shamballa,” “Birthing Sloth,” “Part I: Aberration,” “Part II: Beyond the Gate,” and “The Deed of Elturiel”