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Bullet Ride – At the Gates of Hell

Bullet Ride
At the Gates of Hell
by Gary Hernandez at 06 March 2022, 9:51 PM

BULLET RIDE is a Power/Thrash quintet hailing from the Paloise region of France. They formed in 2014 and have gone through various line-ups as they evolved their sound over the years. On January 21, 2022 they released their debut album, “At the Gates of Hell,” on Music Records. The ten-track album has the sonic signature of Power Metal and the socio-politico bent of Thrash. Clean, female vocals are coupled with strong technical riffage resulting in a straight-edged assault that is exceptionally well mixed but in its refinement lacks intensity. Even the guttural, harsh vocals fall short on the raw grit scale. All in all, the album may appeal to mainstream metal fans, but will miss the mark for those with more extreme predilections.

Some of the album’s lack of horsepower comes from a misalignment between the album title, and even the cover, with the overall theme. While the title, cover art, and the band name, suggests the promise of doom and destruction, the songs feature more as didactic cautions. Subtle difference. One is a fist, the other an open hand. And that’s not a bad thing, but again you expect vehemence, and you get sentimentality. Also, the combination of the clean vocals and Manu’s excellent enunciation means you clearly hear each and every word. Which is fine, but it also means there is no hiding the preachiness of the words. I’m guessing this album would have sounded much better, at least to English monolinguals, if delivered under in French.

The mix and mastering of the album are quite good except for the quick fades which gives the impression the band couldn’t resolve a closure and so the engineer had to create a fast exit. Best track is “All at Sea,” an unabashed heartbreaker, and as such completely lives into its intent. The acoustic opening and soft vocal lilting are well done, and you can hear the emotion breaking in Manu’s voice. There are also some Symphonic elements which work really well.

Overall, I think BULLET RIDE has taken a misstep in their positioning. This is less a Thrash band and more a mainstream Power Metal band; it is less about viscera and more about relationships. All of that says to me Symphonic. Drop the angry front, layer in some synths, and lean more into soaring soprano and away from gutturals. Of course, their current approach may suit some, and more power to them. For extreme metal enthusiasts, probably a pass; for mainstream folks, worth a listen.

Songwriting: 5
Musicianship: 7
Memorability: 5
Production: 6

3 Star Rating

1.  World on Fire
2.  What Comes After
3.  Point of No Return
4.  Somewhere Else
5.  Weather the Storm
6.  Naked Greed
7.  All at Sea
8.  Eternity
9.  Dead and Back
10.  At the Gates of Hell
Philippe – Guitars
Alex – Guitars
Manu – Vocals
Stéphane – Bass
Thibaut – Drums
Record Label: Music Records


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Edited 21 March 2023

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