Seasons come and go but we’re always faced with the cold promise of death just behind the cracks of Winter’s Gate. The rusted hinges strain with the promise, concealing the answer to a question as old as time itself. With every perishing second, we come closer to understanding what happens “Between Lifetimes”.
That also happens to be the title of the EP in question today. From the southern reaches of North Carolina comes a band pushing their focus even further north. They go by the name of Winter’s Gate (not to be confused with the Insomnium album of the same name!). This is a modern Progressive Metalcore unit standing five men strong with no shortage of talent to go around.
They had plotted a course towards the release of this debut on Friday the 13th! … of April 2018. This is now available over on their official Bandcamp page among other prominent online music markets. Not to mention it’s all available for a “name your price” download if you check into Bandcamp!
If the album art serves as any indication, the first steps into this record may be perilous! This music might just push you over the edge! There’s a notable balance between intensity born of all out heaviness and the atmospheric deliverance of melody on this record. There are some truly awesome melodic riffs and keys weaving in and out of the hits as well. For the most part, it’s safe to say this EP takes itself fairly seriously but it doesn’t come without heaps of fun as well. It’s safe to imagine these tracks going over well in certain live settings.
The vocals on this record are absolutely bestial! It’s clear that the voice of front man Trevor Teichert has been trained some time in anticipation of this moment. They pitch way down through crushing depths and shoot back to the sky on the wings of a demonic beast, punching every syllable with the flat of a hammer. Clarity wise, I really have no idea what’s being said for the most part but it does feel very good. So, all of my impressions from this record are really based on feeling and technical aspects.
The collective instrumental corps exhibits a valiant effort as well. They allow the solidity of a physical realm to collide with an ethereal approach. Every hit is felt while simultaneously held in an atmospheric catalyst. This effectively creates a setting of sorts for the EP. As mentioned before, the riffs are truly sweet and the impact of the breakdowns and grooves are fairly undeniable. On another note, the music feels close to how the cover art looks which is always a nice effect! This portion of the band is comprised of the dueling talents of guitarists Caleb Funderburk and Ethan Hoffman, the low end bass duties of Samson Kaplin, and the intense rhythmic delivery of Jonathan Hancock behind the kit. Together, they function as a well-oiled machine with a singular mission in making music. It has to be said they’ve geared their talents together at a high functioning level for this exhibition.
All five tracks on this record work very well together, fitting hand-in-hand like pieces of an overall picture. It appears to be a well thought out project on a number of fronts, sparing no time on attention to detail as it weaves together a musical tale. It starts from a place of uncertainty and adventure with “The Exile” and ends in a bout of triumph, something akin to a declaration of “mission accomplished”, on the closing number “Configured”. Various trials and tribulations are met and matched between these points. Through the highs and lows on this record, there seems to be a consistent undercurrent of uplifting positivity. This “we shall overcome” approach to songwriting is a cornerstone of the sub-genre after all.
There’s an admirable smoothness between track transitions. For example, some of the musical themes in the EP opener “The Exile” are present in the full follow up track “Atrocity” after flowing through the minute and a half transition of “Into Perdition”. This thematic similarity only works to expand upon the record’s narrative.
As for flaws, “Between Lifetimes” does a relatively good job of avoiding them. It’s not exactly the most original offering, wearing a number of influences upon its sleeve. However, for what it does, it does very well. The main sour point on the track list would probably have to be “Serenity”. There’s a huge clash between the vocals and music on the front end of this number. They’re both well executed – they just don’t fit together and feel forced into position. Other than that, the listening is mostly a pleasant ride through another realm.
Production wise, this EP release is fairly damn solid. The clarity is there and the mix allows layers to breathe without much mud to trudge through – especially considering the reverb at times. The tonality is generally nice and buttery. I’m not certain if the band themselves handled all this directly or outsourced, but it’s well done – especially for a debut release!
When the hinges swing open and we see the other side of this release, there’s certainly a lot to enjoy “Between Lifetimes”. All in all, this is a strong debut effort from a group of focused musicians. It’s easy to see metalheads from many a walk enjoying this, just as I have through these several listens. I was generally feeling somewhere between a 7.5 and an 8 out of 10 so we’ll just go with the northern most of those two.
If you wish to give a listen to the music, you may do so through the full stream playlist and lyric video provided up above. Keep in mind that “Between Lifetimes” is available now! You can grab the goods via Bandcamp for a “name your price” download! If you wish to follow along more closely with this band, you may do so via Facebook. Show these musicians some love as they charge headfirst through the gates into a career made of metal \m/
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