Released: 2013, Metal On Metal Records
Reviewer: Robert Williams
Sacred Gate are a four-piece power metal act hailing from Mönchengladbach, North Rhine-Westphalia Germany. Metal-On-Metal Records, Italy's finest merchants of underground true metal, have recently released TIDES OF WAR, the second full length album from Sacred Gate following up last year's "When Eternity Ends" LP and the self-released debut EP "Creators Of The Downfall".
TIDES OF WAR opens with a brief synthesized orchestral interlude leading into the slamming mid-tempo heavy metal thunder of "The Immortal One". I found a lot of musical comparisons to Iron Maiden on the band's last LP "When Eternity Ends" but this track reminds me more of later era Running Wild than anything else. The crushing riffery of the title track follows and really showcases the soaring vocal range of lead singer Jim Overs. This tune has a slight Middle Eastern feel. Around the 4:18 mark Jim briefly incorporates a cleaner approach supplementing his gruffer approach and some progressive guitar breakdowns add to the dynamic range before the thematic sledgehammer riffs reprise towards the end of the track. "Defenders (Valour Is In Our Blood)" is an anthemic, up tempo rocker that will have you banging your head from the word go. The infectious dual lead guitars remind me of "Screaming For Vengeance" era Priest. "
"Gates Of Fire" opens with a double kick German power metal onslaught before giving way to galloping riffs and an infectious chorus that you'll find yourself humming when you least expect it. "Never To Return" is next and slows things down in favor of an acoustic nylon stringed guitar power ballad. This is a really well composed number unlike anything else on the disc, adding some variety to the mix. The all instrumental "The Final March" is an exercise in melodic metal mastery, with many twists and turns and some tasteful soloing from axeman Nicko Nikolaidis. "Spartan Killing Machine" is sure to go down as a live favorite. This song has the kind of chorus that makes you want to bang your fist in the air and push the person in front of you hard enough that they spill their beer everywhere. The pounding battle cries of the drums of war are employed on "Path To Glory" another battlefield call to arms summoning the battalions of steel to metal victory. Many of the tunes on TIDES OF WAR, this particular song included, are built around a monster chorus, and what else would you expect from the motherland of beer halls than a strong sing-a-long chorus that you and your buddies can belt out after a few?
The album comes to a close with the epic "The Battle Of Thermopylae" a song that clocks in at just under thirteen minutes. Riff after riff of classic eighties heavy metal greet the listener as this progressive and extremely ambitious track further branches out ultimately covering a vast amount of musical territory in the process. If there was a lone track on the album that bared the strong Iron Maiden influence of the band's last album "When Eternity Ends" it would undoubtedly be this song.
All in all, this is a solid offering from Sacred Gate. The album's production handled by Andy "The Spartan" Funke at Metallurgy Studio is top notch and very well produced. The cover artwork by artist JP Fournier is alright but far from being of the greatest covers on the Metal On Metal Records roster. It fits with the theme of the album title fine but probably could've been more evolved had they gone with a different artist. The booklet is laid out very nicely as is the case with all Metal On Metal Releases - lyrics, band photo's, credits etc. all on full color glossy panels. The most important thing I can reference regarding TIDES OF WAR is this is the sound of a band coming into their own. On their last LP I recognized their enormous devotion to all things Iron Maiden and no one should fault this, but this new album finds a more mature sounding metal band that does not really need to copy other bands that much if at all. Sacred Gate have found their own unique niche in the pantheon of metaldom on TIDES OF WAR and I think we could all expect great things from this German outfit in the future.