"some music was meant to stay underground..."

70000 Tons of Metal - The World's Biggest Heavy Metal Cruise

Rose Funeral - "Gates Of Punishment" (CD)

Rose Funeral - "Gates Of Punishment" CD cover image

"Gates Of Punishment" track listing:

1. Legions Of Ruination (2:18)
2. Grotesque Indulgence (3:57)
3. Beyond The Entombed (4:08)
4. False Divine (Feat. Steve Tucker) (4:41)
5. Arise Infernal Existence (4:34)
6. Malignant Amour (Feat. Kate Alexander) (4:57)
7. A Recreant Canticle (1:40)
8. The Desolate Form (4:36)
9. Entercism (4:37)
10. Amidst Gehenna (3:32)
11. Gates Of Punishment (5:03)

Reviewed by on September 28, 2011

"For Rose Funeral, 'Gates Of Punishment' is a worthy starting point to branch out from in trying to formulate the appropriate balance between deathcore and death metal."

At one point in the last year or so, it seemed like Rose Funeral was finished. Their last album, “The Resting Sonata,” was average deathcore with its chugging breakdowns and boring songs. They had several well-publicized incidents, including the dreaded “Uno” incident, that made them a running joke in metal. Then the line-up become unstable for months. Guitarist Ryan Gardner made the decision to take over the vocal duties and work on making an album that could appeal to -core fans and picky death metal addicts. “Gates Of Punishment” tries too hard at times to please everyone, but it is the best album the band has written to date.

Now, saying something like that doesn’t automatically makes this a “Best of 2011” candidate. A few problems from the last album sneak in on “Gates Of Punishment.” The prevalent issue is with the overuse of breakdowns, though not to the extent of “The Resting Sonata.” The band takes on a more death metal tone to their music, which they pull off, but the breakdowns interrupt the pace more often than not. It’s disheartening to hear a few minutes of solid death metal, only to have a choppy breakdown wreck the song.

The changes made to Rose Funeral are more positive than negative, though. Gardner has power in his voice lacking from former vocalist Tim Russel, and his raspy screams and chilling growls fit with the intense music. The introduction of new guitarist Kevin Snook brings a multitude of solos and slight technical undercurrents that brightens up the sound, and makes the guitars less monotonic. The advanced musicianship is where the most progress is made.

Rose Funeral plays around with symphonic work on a few tracks to varying success. “Beyond The Entombed” has a bland piano start, but the strings that play softly alongside the band in the final moments of the song are excellent. The title track is a high-end tune from the band, as it builds from a death/black tone before a suitable breakdown leads into a majestic orchestral surge. It’s only matched by a glorious harmonic guitar leads opening on “Malignant Amour.”

“Malignant Amour” is one of a few tracks with notable guest musicians involved. Female vocals are starting to become more commonplace in metal, and Rose Funeral seems to get a jump on it as well. Kate Alexander’s operatic voice gives a Cradle Of Filth vibe to “Malignant Amour,” though it’s used sparingly. “False Divine” has Steve Tucker of Morbid Angel fame giving a vocal boost to the band, giving off toxic interplay with Gardner.

Nobody gave Rose Funeral a chance after “The Resting Sonata,” but maybe “Gates Of Punishment” will change their opinion. The band has embraced more of a death metal sound, and the musicians involved far outperform anybody else the band has had in its ranks so far. “Gates Of Punishment” has its flaws, but they aren’t as debilitating as they were on “The Resting Sonata.” For Rose Funeral, “Gates Of Punishment” is a worthy starting point to branch out from in trying to formulate the appropriate balance between deathcore and death metal.

Highs: Musicianship is much better than previous albums, more death metal influences, Ryan Gardner's vocals fit well

Lows: Breakdowns too prevalent, a few lackluster songs in the second half

Bottom line: "Gates Of Punishment" is more concise and better performed than "The Resting Sonata," and a good starting point for the band towards integrating deathcore and death metal together.

Rated 3 out of 5 skulls
3 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)