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Hymns of Blood and Thunder

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Album Review

Indiana's the Gates of Slumber is the greatest American biker doom band not fronted by Scott "Wino" Weinrich. Guitarist/vocalist Karl Simon is very much in the Wino neighborhood, vocally, offering a hoarse shout with a surprising upper range, but as a guitarist he's much more obviously descended from Tony Iommi; a lot of the riffs on this (and every Gates album) could have come off Sabbath Bloody Sabbath and/or Sabotage. That's not a bad thing, of course; classicism and craft have long been prized in metal. Besides, the band sounds astonishing on this release. Producer Sanford Parker has given them a full, analog sound that pours from the speakers and fills the room with warm waves of distorted guitar, thundering drums that sound like tympani, and a rumbling bass sound like the world's largest Harley idling right behind you. There are a few surprises here. "The Mist in the Mourning" is an acoustic guitar-and-vocal piece with a female singer dueting and harmonizing with Simon, and the nearly 11-minute "Descent into Madness" features a psychedelic, almost Pink Floyd-esque guitar and keyboard interlude. But for the most part, the Gates M.O. remains what it's been all along: a huge churning roar, somewhere between classic Sabbath and contemporaneous work by High on Fire and similar acts. If you like your metal big, heavy, and focused on themes of war, death, and glory, without the epic cheesiness of Manowar, then you will love this album — the Gates have always been great, and this is their best album to date.


Formed: Indianapolis, IN

Genre: Metal

Years Active: '00s

Although one wouldn't necessarily assume that Indiana would be the birthplace of a well-tuned doom metal outfit, perhaps it's important to take into consideration Indiana's disconnect from the rest of the pop market, and maybe the picture gets a little clearer. Hailing from the state's capital, the Gates of Slumber started making the slow, sludgy, methodical style of metal their bread and butter around 1998. Led by guitarist and vocalist Karl Simon, the Gates of Slumber -- the membership rounded...
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Hymns of Blood and Thunder, The Gates of Slumber
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