Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Local Love: Review Of The Gates Of Slumber's Stormcrow

I don’t know whom at Scion came up with the idea to release exclusive music for free on their website, but I owe that guy a beer. I’m not sure how the exact details work, but it makes for some great promotion for everyone involved and shows some great taste if the deals made with bands like the Melvins and Meshuggah are anything to go by. The Gates Of Slumber is one recent participant and has brought drummer Bob Fouts back into the fold with a five song EP available as a free download through Scion AV.

Despite the drummer switch, Stormcrow serves as a direct extension of 2011’s The Wretch as its songs are in the same bare bones doom metal mold. Every track is played out at a lumbering tempo with plenty of heavy riffs, drawn out chords, tricky structures, and downtrodden vocals to spare. The fast-paced climax of “(Devil’s Grip) Driven Insane” may provide a noteworthy pulse but you certainly won’t find another “Coven Of Cain” on here.

Fortunately, the EP format and songwriting skill allows each song to truly stand on its own. “Death March” is probably the most memorable track thanks to the strong vocal delivery, brief bass spot, and Saint Vitus references though “Son of Hades” and “Dragon Caravan” also stand out for their classic riff contributions. In addition, “(Devil’s Grip) Driven Insane” and “Of That Which Can Never Be” do a good job of rounding things out as the former features a strong drum performance and a theme reminiscent of High On Fire’s “Samsara” while the latter makes for the EP’s slowest dirge.

While releasing an EP through Scion for free may be seen as somewhat gimmicky, Stormcrow is a worthy addition to The Gates Of Slumber’s discography and seems to be stronger than a lot of the actual full-lengths in metal this year. While I would definitely recommend an album like The Wretch or Conqueror as a better place to get fully acquainted with the band, this EP does represent their sound well and provides a safe investment for any curious listener. We’ll just have to see how the band evolves from here.

Current Highlights:
“Death March”
“(Devil’s Grip) Driven Insane”
“Son Of Hades”

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