Now everyone here I hope has heard of the term Gateway Drug, of course you have most of you have higher IQ then you duvet Tog number, so I won't explain it. Now here's another one, Gateway Music, the sort of music that opens your mind to other genres out there. For me there are so many that I've stopped counting, so I'll stick to the one I do know kicked down my prejudiced door of pure metal music.
Disillusions Back To Times of Splendor.
Prior to listening to this album, specifically the title song, I was very much into my metal with good melodic vocals. I had very little time for Thrash Metal, let alone Death Metal, and as for Black Metal. Forget it. I think I did try Opeth, but I just couldn't. Sepultura, was the lone exception. What had happened was that I was just browsing the internet and was on the lookout for a Heavy Metal Radio, couldn't really afford CD's and MP3 sales hadn't really caught on at that point. So I came across Snakenet Metal Radio, perfect! So I put it in the background and kept on browsing with a sleeping baby in the same room, so I couldn't have it to loud. Then this one song came on, unfortunately I sort of noticed it in the middle, with these gorgeous acoustic guitar and lovely voice singing, slowly building up to a fantastic crushing crescendo, then ebbing out again into a great guitar solo, again building towards an even more crushing pulverising crescendo of desperation and anger. Finishing of with death metal vocals, that I could understand! Double bass drums!! Synthesised violin section and choir!!! That song, Back To Times of Splendor. An epic rush of Progressive Death Metal running for 14 minutes. Fucking hell I had to get that CD.
When I finally got the album, with it's sweet melancholic album cover and well written lyrics. I was in hog heaven, and to imagine that it was 56 minutes, but only contained 6 songs, absolutely astounded me. And there were more things to amaze me. There was the contrast between light and darkness that I had not really heard before, until of course I discovered that Black Sabbath had used the same trick on several occasions. Though Disillusions ace in the hole was their singer. When I first heard that song, I assumed that there were at least 3 singers, how on Earth could all of those singing styles come from one vocal chord! But, yes to my surprise it was only one guy, who called himself Vurtox(Real name Andy Schmidt). Who also wrote all the songs. This man has talent by the overflow. He has got a very beautiful clean baritone when he just wants to sing, but his death metal vocals are also impressive and also understandable(which doesn't happen very often), then he croons, and yearns, pleads and begs with his vocals.
The album was published with generally glowing reviews, the average score on Metal Archives for example is 90%. But somehow this album managed to fly under the radar for so many many people. Which is a shame. And due to them publishing it with Metal Blade it's not on Spotify.
All the songs meld into each, and follow this one long thread of commonality. The panting at the end of Fall which starts Alone I Stand In Fires for example. Fall is the shortest song on the album clocking just under 5 minutes, but what a great song. One of the great examples that Power Metal doesn't have to suck. Alone I Stand in Fires is a song of desperation, and you can feel that desperation oozing out everywhere.
There is also the obligatory ballad called A Day By The Lake, which doesn't start out as a ballad at all. But the calmness it imbues at the end is so very very nice and out of character.
The crowning jewel is the last song, the very very epic The Sleep of Restless Hours, which like the title song and the first song, swings back and forth from light to darkness, from harsh vocals to pleading, from chaos to order and ends with the most exquisite riff.
Now what came out of this album is in fact that I started listening to more Progressive Death Metal, like Opeth. Vocals, while still important, weren't the focus any more. Or at least they stopped distracting my attention from the music. I don't think I would have started listening to bands like Agalloch, Aeternam, Be'Lakor, Enslaved, Testament or Negura Bunget, amongst so many others.
So thank you Vurtox. I am really really looking forward to your next album.
Before anybody else says anything, yes I've listened to Gloria. And I love it.