Misanthropic Rage – Gates No Longer Shut (2016)

Here we have the debut from this Polish progressive/black two-piece with W performing all of the instruments and AR performing some backing vocals. It’s worth noting that both musicians also play in the post metal act Obselence, which just released their debut album this year as well. Chances are, that if these two sound great in Misanthropic Rage (which they do – where are the reviews for this one, Metal Archives?) then they should sound just as fantastic in the post band. Even though I’m not exactly crazy about post as much as I used to be these days, especially post black which I’ve ended up skipping past in recent years.

Due to the odd nature of this release, it might be better just to walk you through it. The first track that we have here is a piece called “In A Blind Dimension” where frightening and slightly delayed bass nodes seem to duet with harsh scowls and what seems to be a bit of a ghostly clean vocal style that feels filtered in a good way. AR sounds like something of a wind, as what I can only describe as awesome lead melodies surround him. A bit of blasting ensues, combined with equally as memorable guitar playing to create a track that almost changes right before our eyes. I daresay that the piece ends in a bit of a solo, and so be it if it does. The next one we have is the title cut, which begins with a slightly more proggy approach. This grows muddy to accompany the harsh vocal before breaking completely to allow angelic leads and common clean vocals. I know, it sounds a bit weird; but it works in retrospect. As you might expect, there’s a section where the whole thing just slips into euphoria before bashing the hell out of you. Towards the end I’m a bit reminded of early Solefald, yet at a more raucous level. The piece totally ends with a light, clean lead that feels almost melancholy. It’s interesting to note that both this track and the previous are exactly four minutes and fifteen seconds. I’m not sure why, but it’s a unique anomaly that you don’t find often in records – at least back to back, anyway. Moving on, we have “I, The Redeemer” which seems to roll into that post territory. I’m almost reminded a little of mid-era Mastodon at first, but then the approach welcomes in more extreme bits, which only help to accentuate it. After a solo, the whole thing goes nearly tribal as it welcomes spoken word bits and yet another one of the album’s many great solos. These sound like very tasteful, very classy solo pieces and I’m absolutely loving each one of them. Yet as I mentioned before, the sound of the piece seems to approach the post metal sense of their other project and may feel a tad out of place. I still wouldn’t turn it down.

Moving onto the core of the album, we have “Into The Crypt” which comes in as one of the mmuch longer cuts on the disc. It also opens up with one of the most fascinating melody nodes in the performance thus far. To say that these gentlemen are skilled in an understatement. But as we might (and should) expect, the piece eventually dirties up to allow for harsh vocals and thumping bass riffs. Yes, that’s the kind of groovy black metal that I dig, melding in perfectly with all of the melodic nodes in play here. Especially when the mid-section of the piece comes into view, where what I would consider to be “genius” riff compositions play like dancing fairies. Small acoustic bits then follow, making for more of an instrumental powerhouse than a straight-forward track, but I’d simply have it no other way. After all, the point of a debut is for a band to show their mettle, what they’re made of and have to offer the entire world at large – this is the digital era now, the entire world is listening to your album rather than just a few secluded areas. I can honestly say that Misanthropic Rage have done just that with this amazing album, which stands on far more than just the strength of this song – despite how amazing it is. The next piece, “Niehodowlany” is in the band’s native, as it begins with a fierce progressive section that only continues to grow in strength as the song moves forward. The vocal edge remains harsh, as several tinges of technicality and black metal coagulate together to form a very intriguing listen. Just the drumwork alone is quite exciting, even if the kit is programmed – and if it was, then they’ve really fooled me as it sounds very professional. Djent riffs definitely appear here, but in a (I know, this sounds weird coming from me) very tasteful manner that doesn’t djent because “it djents” and rather because these riffs are indeed useful in compositions to build muscularity. Misanthropic Rage are one of the very few bands out there that seem to remember that a song should consist of several layers and not be based around one small gimmick, especially in the progressive field. Once all the techy/proggy stuff is done, we’re greeted to what very well might be the best damn solo effort on this record, period. The man simply just finds a nice spot to shred after belting a pained vocal effort that feels very Primordial, very Pallbearer. Impressive, I had no idea he had pipes like that. Perhaps we’ll hear more like this in the future – or maybe not. Doesn’t really matter, as of right now I’d be happy with any direction this band wants to move into as long as it isn’t over-simplification. “Cross Hatred” comes next as a more straight-forward piece that places fierce avant-black stylings in with more impressive guitar playing, even though it does seem to overuse the djent a little more than necessary. It might be the only real song that has lost me thus far, making even the impressive guitar solos feel like filler to a mediocre track that is heavy for the sheer sake of being heavy. “Cross Hatred” just feels like slightly intelligent “grr” for the sake of “grr” and I guess I don’t really get it as much as some of the other more inventive pieces. But as I’ve said before, you can’t win them all. Closing the listen, we have “I Took The Fate In My Hands” which is the longest track on the album. It begins with some proggy tremolos and spoken word vocals that fit nicely. Obviously, the piece becomes a great deal heavier as speedy drums and frosty black metal decorate what sounded like a sort of ritual prog. I almost feel like I’m listening to a piece from Secrets Of The Moon, but with a little more oomph. Towards the second half of the piece, that ritual sense definitely comes into place, as does yet another solo – but if you’ll listen closely there is also a bit of clean harmonising in the background of said solo that makes it even more magical. As the piece grows in fury, I find myself only becoming more excited by the performance and feel that Misanthropic Rage will have a very difficult time topping this one. A bit of clean followed by some of the deepest growls that you’ll hear on the album work to end it on a very satisfying note.

The listen concluded, I’m quite astonished. Misanthropic Rage have to be one of the best progressive black metal acts that I’ve heard in recent memory. Yet they’re just so much more than that, as they take nodes from the old and the new styles of the metal genre as a whole to bring us something that I feel is truly satisfying. I still don’t think that that “Cross Hatred” is all that strong compared to the rest of the pieces on the album, but it’s not nearly terrible enough for me to not recommend a marvel like this. If I’m given a forty minute album and only wind up bitching about five minutes of it, then chances are the majority of that listen is going to be mesmerizing – and it is. It really and truly is. So, if you missed out on this record before for some unknown reason, please click the link below to listen to some of it yourself and purchase a copy. I’m very happy to have a physical version myself, and with a record that is this damn appealing to my senses at least – I hope that you will to. The Grim Tower highly recommends Misanthropic Rage’s Gates No Longer Shut.

(7 Tracks, 40:00)

9/10

https://godzovwarproductions.bandcamp.com/album/gates-no-longer-shut

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