Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Anubis Gate - Horizons

I have almost given up on progressive metal because these days it just means something so much different than I remember. It seems that the definition has changed to polyrhythm wankery like some djent bands or just unusual time changes for the sake of unusual time changes. Prog-metal, to me, is melodic metal that teeters on the brink of prog rock bands like Yes, King Crimson, Rush, etc mixed with power metal. Bands like Dream Theater, (old) Symphony X, Fates Warning, Circus Maximus, etc. And it seems that a lot these truly prog-metal bands have let me down lately, save Fates Warning's latest. Never fear prog-metal fans, your savior has arrived in the form of Horizons, the new release from Denmark's Anubis Gate.

Okay, I need to admit my n00bness here because, and I'm not sure how, this band has slid under my radar for years now. They formed in 2001 and has released six full lengths in a decade and this is my first exposure to them. Yeah, I know, what rock have I been hiding under? I'm not sure but I'm happy I crawled out from under it because this album is one of the finest prog-metal albums I've heard in a long time. They have a sound reminiscent to Dream Theater in places minus the extreme wankery. I love wankery, actually, but there's a time and a place for it. The songs on this album are complex without being pretentious, melodic without being cheesy, and heavy in the places where it fits. The time changes are subtle and not so overt that they interrupt the flow of the songs. The riffs are solid and catchy and the leads are well placed but not overdone. The vocalist reminds me of a cross between James LaBrie and Jon Anderson of Yes in his much younger days.

The melodies are infectious and the riffs are epic and somewhat down tuned but not to the point where it seems like they are trying to be too heavy. The use their keyboards so well because they do not drive the songs but give them depth. The album opener, "Destined to Remember," is a prime example of the melodies and catchy songwriting displayed on this album. The vocalist does sound like Labrie on this one but has so much more depth and tone to his voice. As I said, there is no shortage of huge riffs on this album as on songs like "Hear My Call" and "Revolution Come Undone" where these riffs drive the songs and the melodies just pull you in. "Airways" reminds me of 90125 era Yes where they keys are hypnotic with a psychedelic feel but also containing some decent riffs. The vocals mostly remind me of Yes on this one. These are just a few examples of the complex elements of these songs but at the same they time contain melodies that keep it from being obnoxious.

As typical with the genre you some epic songs on here that are just musically huge and that reek with pure talent. I call them goose bump songs. "Breach of Faith" is one of those songs. It starts off simple enough with some light piano that leads into an almost U2 like clean guitar riff that mixes with the main riff of the song. The verse is heavy and melodic with vocals that are simply incredible. The chorus is catchy and the hooks in this song are just amazing, not to mention a solo that fucking godly. This is my favorite on the album just based on the goose bump factor alone. "Dream Within a Dream" is the other truly epic song on this album, clocking in at fourteen minutes this song will make you love this band. The melodies on this song are infectious and go from soft to heavy then to hypnotic. The song builds up to massive riffs in the middle where the hooks just grab you an do not let go.

This band is, without a doubt, the savior of prog-metal. I was about to give up on the genre due to releases that seem to be lacking or were just pretentious wankery. I'm on a mission to procure their entire back catalog because I feel like such a dork for missing out on this band to begin with! Get this album...NOW!!



Unknown said...

Great album. You'll really dig their back catalog if you enjoy their overall sound, but just an fyi, they've switched vocalists a few times. Their most recent vocalist is really good, and got a lot better since the last album, but for me, their very first vocalist (Torben Askholm) on their first two albums was their best fitting voice.

The Elitist Metalhead said...

I'm in the process of getting their back catalog now. Andromeda Unchained is awesome!