Seeded and drenched in the thick atmospheres of seventies metal aligned to the oppressive textures and persistence of doom metal and blistering stoner designs, Gates of Nowhere the new album from Italian metallers Return from the Grave is a wide wake-up call to a band with rich potential and exhausting intensity. Its seven tracks consume and suffocate the senses relentlessly yet bring them and the imagination alive with compelling resourceful enterprise. It is a proposition which ebbs and flows a little in holding the tightest grip on attention but never lets it wander or enjoyment of its often spellbinding and predacious incitement falter.
Hailing out of Venezia, the quartet of vocalist Semenz, guitarist Sparta, bassist Kilo, and drummer Jack came together in 2011 and soon unveiled their self-titled debut EP. It was followed the following year by first album The Rebirth from the Last Breath, its heavy tsunami like provocations earning comparisons to bands such as Black Sabbath, Orange Goblin, and Orchid in the acclaim. Casting themes bred from ‘Horror stories and the hidden meanings of Life and Death’ within Gates of Nowhere, the debut release for the band on Argonauta Records, Return From The Grave are entering through a doorway to a wider recognition with its release. A one way trip you feel such the richness and depth not forgetting rigorous seduction oozing from within the Richard Whittaker (Saint Vitus, The Who, Black Sabbath and Rolling Stones) mastered release.
The first thing hitting senses and appreciative thoughts is the production. As thick and cavernous as the sounds it surrounds, it brings the listener into the dark origins of the ingredients the band infuses into their propositions. It gives, as evidenced superbly in the ravenous Intro which starts the journey off, a sinister foreboding air and seemingly analogue breath to the release, a portentous oppressiveness which really suits the music and intensive energy of the tracks. The opening piece is dark and ravenous, a dangerous swamp of sound and intimidatingly emotive textures which seduces as it infests the psyche. It has a heavy poetry to its funereal stance which captivates thoughts as it leads the listener into the last strikes of its storm and subsequently the following Words In Words. The start of the second track is deceptive, its welcoming strands of sonic coaxing almost jovial after the sufferance before. It is bait which persists as rugged rhythms and swipes of guitar and bass enter the narrative but eventually swamped as the vocals blaze away within a now burning cauldron of energy and sound. There is still a swagger and melodic temptation which steals attention from the weighty substance around them though but in turn it loses out to the excellent resonance effected vocals. Ultimately all combined it is a storming stomp of a song, a dramatically magnetic slab of voracious metal.
Center Of The Will opens up next with a bewitching crawl of gnarly bass and teasing percussion before being joined by the entwining tendrils of guitar, its lure acidic and searing as it crosses the senses. Finding a potent stride with rhythmic muscles swiping through every beat, the track becomes a furnace of melodic rabidity and sonic tenacity which flares and seduces with incendiary potency from within the lumbering yet keen gait of the song. Twists and turns bring intrigue to the generally singular course of the incitement, adding along with the scorched vocals, rich distractions to the compelling burdensome weight of the encounter. Leaning into its finale the track explodes into a rabid charge of riffs and rhythms, a thrash like urgency and hunger taking over the driving seat for an exceptional climax.
The intensive intimidation of The Rage Of Rays steps in next to push the listener into an even deeper wash of seventies nurtured metal, again a Sabbath like predation and enticement leading the way, though that bait is never far from the surface of any song within the album. The impressively sculpted and layered beast smoulders and burns with an even tempered intensity and appeal compared to the previous tracks but it lacks the indefinable something which left its predecessors so persuasive and gripping. It is still an appetising meal for the ears but soon forgotten as the rolling menacing rhythms of Uncovered Fate burst into life. The drums hypnotise senses and imagination instantly before sharing time with another excellent animalistic snarl from the bass and cutting scythes of guitar. Snatches of melodic seducing and glazes of sultry suasion almost dance within the devilish portrait unfurling within the imagination whilst the vocals, which were not as effective on the last song, are back on form here as they join the creative maze spun by the guitars within the expanding rapacious enthralling adventure.
The release closes with firstly the mesmeric River In The Sky, a fascinating flight which reveals more about the band in many ways than the other songs, its sirenesque use of atmospheres and ambient beauty within dramatic aural structures sheer captivation, and lastly Inside Human’s Soul. The final song is an alternative version of a track which appeared on the band’s debut album, a more of a straightforward charge within more predictable walls which reveals the growth between the band’s two albums.
Gates of Nowhere is an engrossing encounter from a band evolving potently and it is easy to feel has a big future on the larger stoner/doom metal stage waiting.
Gates of Nowhere is available via Argonauta Records and @ http://returnfromthegrave.bandcamp.com/album/gates-of-nowhere now!
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