In metalcore it’s pretty easy to divide the genre up between bands whose roots are in metal with those who come from hardcore, and with death-doom that same divide can usually be done with a similar ease. There’s bands like My Dying Bride, Paradise Lost and Swallow The Sun whose base is in doom, but who have a penchant for the terrifying tones of death metal; and then there’s the likes of Autopsy, Hooded Menace and Temple Of Void whose nucleus is in death metal, both sonically and aesthetically. Gateway are very much in the latter camp, but their influence from doom seems to come not just from the slower tempos and drawn out riffs but also from the thick and weighty atmospheres that many modern doom bands like Conan and Thou specialise in.
Hailing from Bruges in Belgium, Gateway is the brainchild of multi-instrumentalist R, and the project has been around since 2014, releasing a Self-Titled debut album in 2015 and a second full-length Scriptures Of Grief in 2016. A string of singles and EPs have been released on various labels since, and after going on hiatus in 2018, the project has returned with the new EP Flesh Reborn.
Although it does perhaps restrict the progressive potential, the shorter format doesn’t affect the impact this record has, as across these four tracks we see all the typical elements of death-doom given a particularly atmospheric spin. The production has a massive impact on this too, as it somehow manages to balance the filth and grime of the best death metal with the huge cacophonous timbres of doom, in the process creating a record that sounds utterly sublime.
Opening with the short introduction track Hel, the album quickly gets things going with a flurry of melodic guitars wrapped around riffs of pure evil. The drums and bass continuously drive the track through, hitting full throttle at about halfway for a solid minute of head-banging glory. It quickly segues into Slumbering Crevasses which opens with a melding of thick, gruesome riffs and guttural vocals that are deep in the mix and drowning in reverb. As the riff slows down and the space opens up the vocals become more obvious, creating a massive atmosphere for the melodic guitar leads to exploit. After a while the cracking riff from Hel returns for a final blast of deathly goodness.
Gateway have produced four tracks that are completely engrossing and truly devastating…
Rack Crawler once again opens up with a chunky, speedy riff while the drums pummel away with destructive double bass. The track continues in this vein with groovy death metal riffs that hint at touches of melody throughout. We’re also introduced to some intriguing spoken word vocals interspersed with the predominant low roars. As the track reaches its final movement everything slows down into a magnificent weighty march through the thickest of sludge, before it flows unassumingly into Flesh Reborn.
The title track is a much slower affair, elongating the riffs into funeral doom drones across its first half. It reminds me of the brutal thickness of Tyranny, and there remains much of the filth and dirt of death metal that many traditional funeral doom bands clean up. It’s a powerful track that is relentlessly sombre, and even when the pace picks up somewhat around half-way through, the crushing tones and evil melodies grip your brain with infinitely dense fingers, puncturing grim craters into your grey matter.
Flesh Reborn is a stunning death-doom record that achieves quite a lot within a relatively short time. While the core of Gateway‘s sound is in death metal, by enveloping doom and sludge, Gateway have produced four tracks that are completely engrossing and truly devastating. There are nods throughout the EP to something more progressive and grand, and there is magnificent potential here for Gateway to elevate the quality of this EP into a longer and more ambitious album.
Scribed by: Will J