The problem with genre tags arises when a band is good, but doesn’t fit nearly in to one. That’s a situation that Abysseral Throne find themselves in with Storming The Black Gate. To describe them as heavy, or thrash, or simply as “extreme” paints an inaccurate picture; as does combining all their constituent parts in to one meaningless mess of “heavy-thrash-extreme-death-black” metal. So, instead, let’s put it this way: Storming The Black Gate is built upon that point where thrash and heavy metal meet, topped off with aspects of black and death metal, and it all combines in to one really impressive whole. When the music’s this good, genres just get in the way.
Once introductory symphonic track “Tempestas” is over with, Storming The Black Gate is an incredibly restless piece of underground metal, aggressive and melodic in equal measure, with the band managing to convey a sense of character and drama. There’s clear influence from classic heavy metal in the melodies, with strong bass and the strong, clean vocals recalling early Iron Maiden – just check out “Wolfthorn” for a prime example. The tempos are typically fast and intense, giving the songs the kind of energy and momentum that the best thrash possesses. And the way extreme metal aspects are smoothly inserted in to the songs – such as the death metal growls and furious drumming just before the two minute mark of the title track – is impressive, and it’s to Abysseral Throne’s credit that such shift feel entirely natural and don’t jar.
That point can’t really be emphasized enough; there’s some excellent song-writing on display during Storming The Black Gate, and it’s clear that a lot of time has been spent crafting these songs. Equally impressive is that no track feels as if it’s been bled of its passion and drive during the writing process; a genuine love of metal in all its forms shines through on each track, making the EP a wonderfully enjoyable 26 minutes. If Maiden, Priest, or even Mercyful Fate formed today, they’d probably sound something like Abysseral Throne do.
It’s difficult to shake the feeling that it’s not quite the finished article, though – but given that it’s the band’s first EP, that’s to be expected. This is most notable on closer “They Will Return” which, at over eight minutes, is slightly longer than it probably needs to be, though it is still a good, ambitious heavy-thrash-extreme-death-black-prog (whew!) track. There is still a hell of a lot to like about Storming The Black Gate though, and I wouldn’t be surprised if whatever the band come up with next is one day considered an underground classic. Even so, in the here and now, Storming The Black Gate is engaging, intense, and captures practically all that is good about high-tempo metal.
Storming The Black Gate is available to stream, download, and purchase on CD via Bandcamp.