Rose Funeral - Gates Of Punishment
Straight out of Ohio comes Rose Funeral, an intriguing death metal project that has so far only released a few doses of their melodic blend of the style. Gates Of Punishment is an impressive beast by all accounts, but what impresses the most is not the extreme moments but the more quiet, harmonic ones. This is where the band truly stretches their chops. And it's also where the incessant drum machine (sad, I know) is less capable of fouling up the mix. Sorry, as ably as it performs and as solid as the drum patterns can be, I can easily pick up the difference and it typically disappoints me. While this is one of those cases, there's much more to Gates of Punishment to love than loathe.
"Legions of Ruination" is a haunting opener, like a graveyard march of an undead horde, and when the music kicks in it's that much more impacting. The style is rather typical for modern death metal acts, heavily influenced by the likes of Cannibal Corpse, Deicide, Immolation and the like. It stays true to the form and it does so in solid, if unspectacular fashion. No, what sets Rose Funeral apart, at least to my ears, is their ability to seamlessly interject doses of more melodic and traditional metal, and also select symphonic/thematic elements that lend a heavy dose of atmosphere and identity to the album. The symphonic elements to "Beyond the Emtombed" allow the entire track to breathe more, and it doesn't hurt that it also features one of the albums best riffs. Also worth mentioning is a duality between the typical death metal growling and a more black metal shrieking vocal style which work off of each other well when they're used, which is rare enough to make those moments more meaningful. The solo section of "Arise Infernal Existence" is splendid, a true nod to both the Gothenburg blend of death metal and more traditional heavy metal. It doesn't altogether FIT with the rest of the track, and it could have stood on it's own as an awesome interlude, but hell, it's a highlight of the album all the same. The female guest vocals on "Malignant Amour" are very welcome, operatic and rather mellow in the mix. This is another highlight of a track. Lastly, the title track has an orchestral section to it that catches me offguard everytime I hear it...it does not fit, at ALL, but somehow...it does. That doesn't make sense, but you'd have to hear it to understand.
And I do suggest you do just that. While not breaking any barries, the combination of refined, competent death metal with sparingly used (and, because of that, much more enjoyable in their rarity) symphonic/traditional guitar lead sections, Rose Funeral create a harmonic (despite itself, perhaps?) jaunt of polarizing extremes on Gates of Punishment. My final opinion is that, if the band can bolster their influences into a more cohesive, flowing, magnetic and concise album the next time around, they're going to be in position to be considered amongst the absolute best in the realm of metal in general. The talent, skill and motivation are all there...the last step is a little humility and a little more creative control. Those things typically come with experience, and regardless of what comes, Gates of Punishment is an enjoyable one.
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