Released: 2012, Metal On Metal Records
Reviewer: Robert Williams
Sacred Gate are a four piece heavy metal band hailing from Germany. The band have only had one previous self released EP under their belts released in 2011 before signing with Italy's Metal On Metal Records for their debut full length LP WHEN ETERNITY ENDS that was unleashed this past April. As you can see, Sacred Gate has been a busy band these last few years.
WHEN ETERNITY ENDS open with the melodic heavy metal of "Creators Of The Downfall". Although the rhythm guitar has a mean and crunchy tone to it, the lead guitar lines are very reminiscent of "Somewhere In Time" era Iron Maiden. Vocalist Jim Over has a gruff mid range approach to his singing not that far removed from Chris Boltendahl of Grave Digger. "Burning Wings" follows with an up tempo onslaught of well honed musicianship, catchy hooks and mindless lyrics (but it works). "The Realm Of Hell" has a thumping bassline courtesy of Peter Beckers that while being simple, allows the band to center their sound around it and further expand on it's simplicity with some blazing lead guitar from Nicko Nikolaidis. This same strategy of course first employed by Judas Priest on "You've Got Another Thing Coming". I've noticed a lot of Maiden influence seeping through on WHEN ETERNITY ENDS and the opening riffing on the title track sounds pretty damn close to "Two Minutes To Midnight" but the vocals are pretty far removed from good ol' Bruce Bruce and that along with a thrashier rhythm section help better differentiate Sacred Gate from the legions of Iron Maiden wannabes. Sacred Gate drummer Christian Wolf is really slamming on this track, keeping the beat firmly in the pocket and with some flashy ride cymbal work, further complementing the driving force of this track. "Freedom Of Death" is a slow building ballad that lyrically deals with a blood soaked battlefield from an ancient Greek war. Three and a half minutes in, things pick up in the aggression department and when breaking away from the ballad like structuring of the early part of the track the listener gets some more Maiden influenced metal. "In The Heart Of The Iron Maiden" (Seriously?) starts with a riff that sounds like "The Evil That Men Do". I'm starting to see a pattern here. These guys worship almost exclusively at the altar of Iron Maiden. Nothing wrong with that...You know...Lacking in the originality department, in favor of... (ahem)... paying tribute to one of the greatest bands ever...
On "Vengeance" vocalist Jim Over reminds me a bit of Peavy Wagner from Rage (Finally a musical reference removed from the Iron Maiden camp) musically speaking, this tune goes further down the same progressive and melodic rabbit hole of the rest of the album. "Earth My Kingdom" covers more slow and plodding territory, like a slow march through the sands of a blazing hot desert wasteland. The galloping "Heaven Under Siege" brings WHEN ETERNITY ENDS to a close and is a pretty epic piece of metal clocking in at just under seven and a half minutes. Of course guitarist Nicko (Haha, that's classic, even his name is Maiden related) Nikolaidis has to rip off some final Murray/Smith tandems for good measure's sake before bringing things to a close.
WHEN ETERNITY ENDS was recorded at Metallurgy Studio and mastered by Andy Funke. The album's production is really solid. The album cover and graphics in the accompanying booklet are not the best, but passable nonetheless. All in all, I will say that Sacred Gate are a great band that work well with each other. They are very skilled musicians as well. Where I think they could improve would be the songwriting department, presenting themselves as a band with original ideas to offer. I can't really fault a band too much for showing a degree of influence by other bands in their music but when it is this blatant it serves little purpose. Believe me, if I want to hear Iron Maiden I have pretty much everything they've ever released. I'll just pick one of their albums and throw it on. A little tweaking in the the overall sound and presentation of the band and these guys could be ready to really rock.