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Anubis Gate - "Anubis Gate" (CD)

Anubis Gate - "Anubis Gate" CD cover image

"Anubis Gate" track listing:

1. Hold Back Tomorrow
2. The Re-Formation Show
3. Facing Dawn
4. World in a Dome
5. Desiderio Omnibus
6. Oh My Precious Life
7. Golden Days
8. Telltale Eyes
9. River
10. Circumtsanced

Reviewed by on August 29, 2011

"To put it simply, this is an impossibly grand effort that only enemies of melody could justifiably dislike."

With refined form, attention to detail, and a determined focus on effective songwriting, Anubis Gate's self-titled fifth album sees these progressive Danes quickly perfecting their art. Bassist Henrik Fevre takes over vocal duties here, while the rhythm section of Kim Olesen and Jesper Jensen on guitars and Morten Sørensen on drums pounds away on most songs. Olesen also lends keyboards to the tracks, which provide a nice assisting role in creating soundscapes.

Right away, the album unfolds with noticeably different vocal stylings than the previous albums. The band has lost Jacob Hansen's falsettos and gained a balance in Fevre. Fevre wrote most of the lyrics on all of the recordings, and his bright emotionally transparent voice gives inflection to these new lyrics. The first song, "Hold Back Tomorrow" comes out of the gate unfolding like a film score, starting with an introductory piano line before lifting the curtain on wave after wave of layered guitars and driving drumming. Cut from the same cloth as Opeth and Daylight Dies in the focus on blending unexpected melodic chord changes together, the procession of songs is full of exciting twists and turns, with "Circumstanced" as an album highlight.

Above all, the songwriting on this album was the band’s priority. Anubis Gate put a concerted effort into maintaining discernible song structures, while at the same time breaking up monotony by frequently using different time signatures within a movement. Somehow, the band manages to vigilantly keep up the technicality without distracting from the point. The fact that the members do so without being disorienting to average listeners might make them the missing link between the prog-heads and the just-the-basics listeners. There's an abundance of bright, high-flying, and memorable choruses as well.

As far as vocal stylings go, "Facing Dawn," "Oh My Precious Life," and "Telltale Eyes" place Henrik Fevre in the same camp as top-dogs Hansi Kursch (Blind Guardian), Tony Kakko (Sonata Arctica), and Roy Khan (ex-Kamelot.) There are too many vocal tracks to count, with 4- and 5-part harmonies going on in the choruses. Fevre's high tenor bleeds feeling and is made all the more dramatic by former band-mate and ex-vocalist Jacob Hansen's expert mixing on the record. "Golden Days" might be the best illustration of this, with uplifting lyrics and harmonies drenched in dramatic reverb amid swirling synthesizer.

Part of what makes this record stand firm is that it's not trying to be a combination of styles. Free of pretense beyond the need for varied time signatures, the band approaches each song as a new way to expand the scope of its sound without losing orbit around a central feel. There are riffs to satisfy fans of Arch Enemy, In Flames, and Nevermore without becoming just a sum of their parts.

To put it simply, this is an impossibly grand effort that only enemies of melody could justifiably dislike. In other words, you'd have to be a metal Nazi to write this off of your must-have list for 2011 releases.

Highs: Soundscapes, unique and huge vocal styles, and attention to songwriting above prog pretension.

Lows: The bass could be more identifiable at times.

Bottom line: A masterwork likely to become a staple of progressive metal in years to come.

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)