Sunday, 1 March 2015

Mausoleum Gate - Mausoleum Gate (2014) / 92%

Open, open, open... the gates of excellence

Finland never stops to surprise me, after the everlasting impression their rich and excellent traditional doom scene gave me, the small Nordic country is also delivering the goods in the heavy metal genre with bands like Ranger, Lord Fist and these guys, Mausoleum Gate. These bands are all fun and meets the required amount of evil silliness that the genre asks for. Unlike many of these “occult” bands taking themselves too seriously, these Finns know how to have a spooky and colorful atmosphere while still being able to unleash some intricate seriousness upon us.

Inspired mostly by the NWOBHM scene (see Angel Witch, Holocaust, Iron Maiden...), the quintet also integrates its fair share of progressive rock and classic rock influences with the wild use of synths and mellotrons (all played by the bassist Wicked Ischanius, not sure if that's his real name...). These influences are also made clear with the numerous guitar solos found on this self titled album, they often have this rock vibe and they're certainly enjoyable. There's a lot of Rainbow/Deep Purple too and that's surely a great thing, I mean, it should be criminal to dislike Rising.

Mausoleum Gate are, in my opinion, a full package. Everything about their sound is impressive, from the clean, profound and strong vocals to the tremendous leads and riffs rooted in traditionalism and excellence and the Maidenesque moments (listen to the twelve minute title track and cream). There's also a strong bass presence (not overwhelming like Harris but still quite enjoyable) and the drums are dynamic and groovy as hell (listen to “Mercenaries of Steel”, a track reminding me of these numerous and idiosyncratic Jussi Lehtisalo heavy metal projects like Krypt Axeripper). There's a good mix between short, catchy tracks and some longer, proggier ones and I feel the band should expand on the later as I think they're great at them but eh, that's my opinion!

Heavy metal is a genre that I really like, the soaring melodies or the roaring solos but it's sometimes playing it safe with a direct, to the point, rocky attitude both in the songwriting and musical departments. It's not the case here, everything is rich and developed to the apex of these weird guys' abilities. Their sound is diverse and the band isn't scared to include mellow moments like the calm parts of the marvelous track “Lost Beyond the Sun”. I always thought that it's way harder to write ballads as metal is often about skills and technicality but Mausoleum Gate knows how to inject a lot of feelings into their music and it pays off.

The singer, a fellow named V-P Varpula, is quite talented. He has the necessary set of pipes to go all in but he's often a bit subdued and let the guitarists shine. Nevertheless, he rocks these choruses and I like the old school reverb and sleaze in his voice.

Voluntarily dated and classic, the production is still very solid and reminds me of the epic might of albums like “Seventh of a Seventh Son” with its samples and balls out approach. I wouldn't want the album to sound like a modern and saccharine imitation of Painkiller like their fellow countrymen Battle Beast do.

When I heard the rusty door close at the end of the record, I already wanted to get back inside and spin the album again. It's a (too brief) forty minutes that I've been living often since I discovered the band in late 2014. I can't praise Finland's underground metal scene enough, this is yet another gem.

Listen to the album on Bandcamp

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