Livin` In Hysteria
Released: 1991, Steamhammer
Heaven's Gate may be one of those bands that is destined to live, work and play in the shadows of the metal elite. Now celebrating their 12th year (and 10 releases) as a band, they still garner very little press or attention at any level. They are hard to describe in the sense that they are not too fast, too heavy, symphonic, epic or any of those overused classifications. (I include myself in that group, guilty of over-labelling a band) Heaven's Gate are true classic Heavy Metal in the Iron Maiden, Judas Priest vein... no more, no less. I have picked their 3rd release, Living in Hysteria as a hidden gem because it was with this CD they got signed from the tiny, indie No Remorse label onto Steamhammer/SPV and made the jump to what was supposed to be the big-time.
In 1990-1991, this German 5 piece has had every advantage going for them. The production and arrangement is by Charlie Bauerfeild who was getting his start around this time. Other production credits include Miro (Rhapsody) and Heaven's Gate features none other than Sascha Paeth (producer of Gamma Ray, Angra, Rhapsody) as their guitarist and co-producer. The humorous cover art is by the Richard Corben who contributed art to a few of their other releases over the years.
If all that history and quality talent behind the band isn't enough to sell you, let me describe the music! The 10 songs are as I said earlier, pure, classic heavy metal. Every component of what makes a good metal song are in place. Powerful vocals with a unique sound that don't stray too high or too low. Tasteful, elegant soloing, not too frantic or flashy. Catchy, hummable riffs permeate many of the songs which feature big, harmonized back-up choruses. The rhythm section is solid crunchy and has a nice groove without going too overboard. The song arrangements are fun, light, Helloween-ish type sing-along songs all at about four to five minutes long. Lyrically the topics touch on traditional fantasy elements, holy swords and so on, but a few songs like Can't Stop Rockin' and We Want It All lighten the mood considerably.
So here we are, ten years later and Heaven's Gate (having just issued a box set of rarities last year) still hasn't made the big time, despite big tours of Japan, despite tours with Angra and Dream Theater, despite guest appearances by big names (K. Hansen, R. Scheepers), despite big name producers (C. Bauerfeild, T. Hansen) despite humorous cover songs, acoustic EP's etc...etc...etc..Heaven's Gate truly are a hidden gem in the metal world. Why hasn't anyone done a HG cover tune or tribute CD yet? Start with Livin' in Hysteria, you'll be hooked. Then go grab the box-set which is a nice representation of their career with some bonus stuff. That's an order.