Malevolent and black heartened the new album from Cincinnati death metalers Rose Funeral is one of those releases that will do much more than get a good response upon its release. Strongly impressive, strikingly creative, and unnervingly powerful it is an immense cacophony of dark intent and violence of demonic proportions. Its destiny is to recruit new masses of followers from the shadows and to place Rose Funeral at the head of the new breed of death metal bands.
Gates Of Punishment is the follow up to the band’s highly acclaimed Metal Blade Records debut The Resting Sonata from 2009, the eleven pulsating demonian tracks within building on its predecessor and pushing the band’s music to new heights and devastation. In the press release vocalist Ryan Gardner commented “We had the greatest time recording Gates of Punishment. It is definitely a HUGE step for Rose Funeral. I can honestly say this album just crushes any release we have done. We are looking to turn heads and drop jaws with this album. Gates of Punishment is filled with intense blasts, fast paced solos, melodic harmonies, dark chords, harsh vocals, and pissed off breakdowns. This is the sound I have been searching for with Rose Funeral, and I couldn’t be happier. All I can say is that with the guys I have in the band, it will be a huge climb in sound every album from now on.” Going by the quality and strength of Gates Of Punishment there is one hell of a death ride ahead for us all.
The album starts off with an instrumental intro to opening track ‘Legions Of Ruination’, as bells toll it is a portent of things to come with its ominous tones through a rain soaked effect. Once it has laid its emotive atmosphere down the track explodes into a pummelling exercise of power. The vocals of Gardner drip venom as the drums attack machine gun style, whilst the guitar of Kevin Snook drives like a cranial drill into the skull, incessantly and deeply. His melodic and sonically powerful additions though aid the intensity rather than alleviate it and it brings the whole experience up multiple notches of pleasure.
‘Grotesque Mutilation’ increases the damage and levels immediately after, intrusive sonically and rhythmically it is primal and evil. Bassist Julian Kersey brings riffs that stomp menacingly and though understated at times more than helps create the over whelming oppressive feel. A big factor to Rose Funeral’s is the distinct variation within tracks, riffs, tempos, crushing breakdowns are all delivered with thoughtful attention and ability, making each turn within a track a new unexpected but invariably a very satisfying adventure, ‘Beyond The Entombed’ a prime example. Coming over initially like a Cradle of Filth influenced track it soon moves to new realms yet undiscovered by the UK band. With tense piano insertions, seek and destroy riffs and guttural vocals to grace any grave, the track is a lurking beast.
Across the album each and every track delivers originality and intense terror to please any dark soul. Varied and loaded with the darkest riffs and wickedest intentions musically and lyrically at every turn, there is nothing but contentment to be found. From the crumbling incessancy of ‘False Divine’ featuring vocals from ex Morbid Angel frontman Steve Tucker, through the clutching grasp of ‘Malignant Amour’ with another guest in the form of opera singer Kate Alexander bringing her glorious melodic voice to work against and with the direct aggression, to the albums best track ‘The Desolate Form’. The song ripples with pernicious urgency and fierce energy, if one has to go this is the kind of track to leave this realm with.
Gates Of Punishment is an epic, not in the size of the release or even the sound but in the intensity, creativity, and total enjoyment it gives. With a year of very good and strong releases in the death metal genre Rose Funeral has just raised the bar for them all.