Monday, January 28, 2013

Dilmun Gates - News Of The New World (2012)

It is hard to deny the jealousy we feel at this time of year. Buried in snow, below zero temperatures, and no end in sight. Yet the people of Spain bask in the sheer beauty of their surroundings for 365 days every day. Not only do they have the more enviable climate, but their budding metal scene continues to grow, day by day, pushing new bands to the surface at an alarming rate. From Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Dilmun Gates have become the beneficiary of this extended consciousness. Formed in 2006, the current incarnation, as it were, does not share anything in common with the original except for sound. With four new members, the absence of keyboard, and a clear love of all things melodic death, "News Of The New World" is an album that is long overdue.

With the first distorted guitar notes, "Enemy Of Time"  rattles into action. The greatest strength and weakness are immediately apparent, with the incredibly detailed and catchy guitar lead falling victim to a poor placement in the mix. With the rattling black metal themed drums in the verse taking the top spot on the totem pole, it leaves some of those riffs buried. When they do peak out, they impress time and time again with both their speed and accuracy. Vocalist and bass player Volko sees his voice engulfing all that listen, his gurgling screams enough to make the hair on your neck stand up. But it is the guitar tandem of Jose and Conny that steals the show with a flurry of wild riffs in the bridge. Almost as if they are attached, we run directly into "Before Dying" without as much as a breath in between. Many of the production issues that plagued the opening track have been corrected or masked. The pulsing percussion is joined by a string of clean vocals, but with just enough grit to make the transition easy. It can't be overstated how important the dueling guitar action is to the track and the album on the whole. Equal parts catchy and captivating, the lead riff provides the perfect platform for a vocal that is growing in strength.

Taking a step toward more basic chugging progressions, the band lays down a heavy dose of distortion to open "Handle It." The combination of the basic rhythm section and the more dynamic lead is well conceived, but falls flat at times with a mix that isn't quite up to the challenge. But for all of the shortcomings the production work has as it pertains to the guitars, it more than makes up for with the booming clarity in the drums. Each set of √Ālejandro's double kicks rings through your speakers with tone and definition. As the breakdown section erupts, you are reminded that there is a dark side to the track that can't be contained. The title track holds the explosion you have waited all year for. All of the pieces fall into place for a five minute barrage of no holds barred death metal. But when it seems as though they have chosen in favor of a one dimensional offering, the guitar melodies kick in, and give you a twist that you may not have expected. Even the outro holds some rich elements. For a brief moment, the guitars sync together on "Next Time I'll Say No" in such a way that you may feel inclined to dance; but only for a moment. That jolly riffing aside, they have now settled into a melodic death groove. The production woes of the first half are gone, finding a perfect balance between all of the moving parts.

Perhaps the most boisterous track on the album, "The Immortals" sees Volko at his best, screaming and growling his way through nearly five minutes of crushing reverb and sizzling cymbals. Through a series of stops and starts, and a set of tempo changes, the band shows a versatility that may have seemed conspicuously absent earlier. Throw in a two headed breakdown attack, and you have something that is sure to please some picky fans. For all of the slower paced moments here, you get as many high speed thrash elements in "You," with a seemingly never ending stream of melodic riffs and bass lines dominating the track. And while the chanting chorus sections may come off as cheesy, they are immediately offset by tremendous growls. And with a run time that falls just shy of four minutes, it moves quickly from A to B. The trio of tracks that ends the albums are all similar, but so different. There is a a distinct groove to be had in "Remain," despite being buried beneath a few layers of thrash metal design. But it is "Turn Into Rage" that best embodies its title, filled with machine gun drums and wild, flailing solo work. Straightforward, heavy, and to the point, it stands out as the most in your force track on the album. A combination of the two can be found in the finale, "The Intriguer." One part brutal beatdown, one part soothing melody, two parts top notch musicianship.

Metal doesn't have to be rocket science. The desire to make great music so often gets trumped by the desire to do something crazy or never heard before. For Dilmun Gates, they wisely chose the former and provided an album that is as strong as possible, without sounding repetitive and dull. While there are mixing issues scattered throughout the early part of the album, they all but fade away by the last notes. And with those miscues aside, there is an overwhelmingly satisfying array of guitar riffs, bass strings, and drums to keep you listening. It may not be exactly what you expected when you first hit play, but after fifty some odd minutes of brutally heavy instrumentals and vocals, it would seem that the "News Of The New World" is positive.


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