Released: 2016, The Church Within Records
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
GATES OF FLESH is easily one of my favorite records of the year.
For the uninitiated, Lord Vicar was born from the ashes of Reverend Bizarre and boasts a lineup featuring some of Euro Doom’s most valuable players. Their latest release GATES OF FLESH is everything you’d expect from a band of this caliber and then some. Exuding an attitude of total control over their craft, the seven new tunes are a dissertation in doom metal done right.
Stylistically, the band retains their traditional doom metal heritage, leaning on the likes of early Pentagram, Vitus, Count Raven, and of course, the late Rev for inspiration. There’s nothing inherently new or jazz hands about GATES OF FLESH, but the caliber of the songwriting, the production values, and a relaxed, confident, swagger all culminate into one amazing record. New material like “Birth of Wine”, “Breaking the Circle” and the incessantly catchy “The Green Man” are all less outwardly aggressive, allowing the melodies and madness to breathe and slowly nestle in your cranium. The Kärki/Millsted/Christus collective are at a point in their musical careers where there’s really nothing left to prove, and the impetus is placed on just doing what they do obnoxiously well.
A slick production veneer brings a new sonic brightness to what’s been a traditionally fuzzy mix. The notes ring clearer, the riffs crunch harder, the whole package just comes across sounding more energized than say, SIGNS OF OSIRIS. Also of note, with the exception of the closing mammoth “Leper, Leper”, most of the songs clock in between 4-5 minutes – which is basically pop song territory for a band like this. The abbreviated runtime between tracks does wonders in keeping the album’s momentum moving forward, without sacrificing the intensity of the punches being thrown.
Top to bottom, front to back – GATES OF FLESH is a classic doom at its finest. It’s a masterfully heavy album that’s at times almost passive aggressive. But there’s no need for bluster or bravado when the music is this good. Consider GATES OF FLESH mandatory listening for doom fans.