I’m getting a lot of promos from bands calling themselves “old school death metal” lately. While I was (and still am) a fan of that sound, simply aping Unleashed or Entombed doesn’t do much for me because I’ve already heard those albums. That being said, I didn’t have much in the way of expectations when I pulled down the newest EP, Dying Alone, from the French band Affliction Gate. Never have I been so pleased about being wrong.
As soon as Negative Lucidity kicked open the door, I knew I was in for something different. Affliction Gate do have some Unleashed worship, but a slightly blackened edge and some mid-1990s doom undertones set this apart from the mimics.
"Doom?" you may be asking. Indeed. Just listen to the solo at the back half of Negative Lucidity or the opening of Devising Our Own Chains, and it’s reminiscent of Gregor Mackintosh’s work on Paradise Lost’s classic Gothic album. Additionally, the band brings the tempo down at various points to give an ominious feel to some of the tracks.
Speed freaks need not fear, though, because while songs can wail, they’ll spin on their heels to turn into pummelling beasts. Take the end of the aforementioned Devising Our Own Chains, for example. This song epitomizes the feeling of despair turning to rage, because the last minute of the song is a barely-controlled frenzy of screaming guitars, thundering bass, and driving percussion.
Vocalist Herastratos reminds me a lot of Karl Willetts on the later Bolt Thrower albums. His voice has a throaty, yet powerful, quality which heightens the feelings of isolation present in the lyrics and really sets the tone for the album’s cheery title.
Unleashed, Paradise Lost, Bolt Thrower… That’s a lot of name-dropping, isn’t it? It’s all well-deserved, though, as Affliction Gate meld elements from three of those very different bands together into a damn fine listening experience.
Really, my only complaint about Dying Alone is that it’s only an EP. I would love another three or four tracks of this, and you can be certain I’m going to try delving into Affliction Gate’s back catalog. When Dying Alone drops in January, definitely give it a listen.
Available for pre-order at Bandcamp.
Special thanks to Transcending Obscurity PR for the complementary review copy.