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Gateway - Galgendood Award winner

by Justin "Witty City" Wittenmeier at 14 May 2023, 4:11 AM

GATEWAY is a one man Belgium death/doom metal project that formed in 2014 by mastermind  Robin van Oyen. ‘Galgendoo’ is the second full length album; he has also released a demo and four EPs. With six tracks and a thirty minute runtime, this feels more like an EP than a full length album.  That isn’t a complaint, just an observation that, for a full length in the doom metal world, it is rather short.  With that being said, it is always quality over quantity and thirty minutes is more than enough to make or break a band’s album. So what does it do for GATEWAY?

Not only does it make them but also places “Galgendoo’ near the top of the doom mountain for the first half of the year so far.  I want to praise the production values for this album.  It sounds immense, expansive, and unending.  The right amount of mix between grit and clarity can be hard to come, especially for death/doom but this album goddamn nails it. I also want to point out that these songs sound like they are being played by a full band.  Every now and then, a one person project sounds like, well, one person but I swear there are five or six other people playing on this release.  Except there isn’t.  Except Robin is just this good.

The vocal mix is right where it needs to be too–perfectly melded against the backdrop of doomy, sweltering guitars and thick as an oak bass.  Robin’s vocals sound monstrous and frightening–this dude can growl like a beast. The first song is ‘The Coexistence of Dismal Entities’ is very immediate in the beginning—a growl and the riffs start flowing like warm blood down the walls of a haunted house.  Not every doom album needs to spend 45 minutes getting to the point–some bands excel at that and GATEWAY excels at getting to the point. The music moves along like the last vestiges of light giving way to the first and final night. The riffs are unrelenting, matched only by the strong bass and drum rhythmic foundation.  All the instruments are robust, each one weighing as much as Jupiter.

Sacrificial Blood Oath in the Temple of K'zadu,’ begins right after the ending of the previous track.  The guitars and bass have a stalker vibe to them—always moving forward, the shadows and all that is wrong coming with them.  At this point, the vocals are another instrument and hardly human—very much their own living miasma of death. Once the riffs and drums settle into a groove, the song becomes impenetrable—-light isn’t leaving but instead swallowed and sure as the dying sun nothing is getting back inside this darkness.

Nachtritueel (Evocation),’ is an interlude but unlike most that I hear today, this one actually sounds decent and bridges the gap between the full length songs quite nicely.  The tribal-like drums and the eerie, layered vocals really sell the otherworldly atmosphere the album gives off.  The next song is perhaps my favorite on the album, ‘Scourged At Dawn.’ The guitar tone is enough to drive even the most experienced doom listeners insane with just how abrasive and biting it is.  The drums and bass are hypnotic—a neverending horror that just isn’t going to stop no matter how hard you try to escape.

Bog Bodies Near the Humid Crypt’ is as sickening as the title might suggest—just wrong on every level of natural decency.  Much like the decay of flesh, the details are heard as they pass into nothing, devoured by the next change. At the three minute mark, the drums pick up and the song is a march of death—choppy guitars and vocals that arise out of them like a chest burster alien.  The final track is ‘Galgendood - Dagritueel - Duvelsput,’ and ends the album with the finesse of a lumbering, primordial beast.  Are we sure this album wasn’t written by some necro demonic elder god?

This song is more like an experience–everything swirls together in a huge void of noise.  The riffs are just the screams of the unforgiven and the other instruments are the rapidly dying heart beats of the lost. GATEWAY’s ‘Galgendood’ is a potent death/doom album that is as depraved and unnerving as it is heavy and monolithic.  Doom tends to be dark and depressing but this one is just messed up and releases things not meant for mortal senses.  A huge success for the genre this year.

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. The Coexistence of Dismal Entities
2. Sacrificial Blood Oath in the Temple of K'zadu
3. Nachtritueel (Evocation)
4. Scourged at Dawn
5. Bog Bodies Near the Humid Crypt
6. Galgendood - Dagritueel - Duvelsput
Robin van Oyen - Everything
Record Label: Transcending Obscurity Records


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