Album Reviews

Anubis Gate – Horizons Review

anubis gate_horizons cover

Released By: Nightmare Records

Release Date: April 15, 2014

Genre: Progressive Metal

Links: http://www.anubisgate.com

 

Line Up:

Henrik Fevre – Vocals, Bass

Kim Olesen – Guitars, Keyboards

Michael Bodin – Guitars

Morten Gade Sørensen – Drums

 

Tracklist:

1.Destined To Remember

2. Never Like This (A Dream)

3. Hear My Call

4. Airways

5. Revolution Come Undone

6. Breach Of Faith

7. Mindlessness

8. Horizons

9. A Dream Within A Dream

10. Erasure

 

Danish progressive metal band Anubis Gate has certainly been on an impressive run of albums lately, despite undergoing some major lineup changes. Following the two absolute masterpieces that were 2007’s Andromeda Unchained and 2009’s The Detached, Jacob Hansen gave up his vocal duties. The band kept going strong, however, as bassist Henrik Fevre took the lead singer position and ran with it on their slightly less impressive, but still excellent 2011 self-titled album. Shortly after that, founding members Jesper M. Jensen (guitars) and MortenSørensen (drums) left the band, and were replaced by Michael Bodin and Morten Gade Sørensen respectively. Yet even with all these lineup changes over the last few years, it seems Henrik and guitatarist/keyboardist Kim Olesen haven’t been phased in the least, as the two have kept the band going, and with their sixth full length release Horizons they have continued to build on what made their last few albums so impressive, while evolving their sound in some surprising ways.

For those new to the band, Anubis Gate tend to emphasize the more melodic aspects of the genre, while still composing some very complex and emotionally resonate songs. Their music is generally more accessible than bands like Dream Theater or Symphony X, and on a surface level this album in particular may seem surprisingly straight-forward, but they’ve always been a very subtle band, and one whose albums require several listens to truly appreciate all the intricate details found within their music. If anything Horizons goes even further with this, as many of the songs are more mellow and more ambient than the band has ever been, and so fans expecting to instantly be bulldozed with punishing riffs may be disappointed. Of course, this has always been their style, and as a fan of their more melodic side I actually think this is their second best album to date, ranking only behind their nearly untouchable classic The Detached.

On the whole this album feels like a continuation from their self-titled album, though in some very small ways it also feels like a call back to early albums like Andromeda Unchained. One thing I particularly love about this album is the use of keyboards. While bands like Dream Theater tend to be very loud and flashy with the keyboards, Kim Olesen uses them for ambiance and to create an overall backdrop for the music more than anything else. There are extended passages where the keyboards are the driving force behind the music, such as on “Never Like This (A Dream), which during the verses actually reminds me a bit of Muse. However, the song on the whole is too complex for that comparison to hold much weight, but certainly this album has a more modern feel to it than past albums, and it at times feels more prog rock than prog metal. Elsewhere, they show their compositional brilliance on the very subtle “Airways”, which slowly builds up with an excellent acoustic section, before evolving into something slightly heavier but still very mellow by their standards. That song is actually a perfect example of everything the band stands for, as initially it seems like a fairly straight-forward song, but when examined thoroughly there are so many little twists and turns that take it from being a great song to being an absolute masterpiece.

Fans wanting something heavier need to look no further than the very next track after “Airways”, as “Revolution Come Undone” features some of the most explosive riffs the band has ever written, and it’s also perhaps their most power metal influenced song since Andromeda Unchained. It also showcases two other standout features of the band: The lyrics are surprisingly thoughtful and intelligent, especially in a genre that’s often so riddled with cliche after cliche. This applies to the entire album, and actually the following track “Breach Of Faith” is an even better example. The other thing that song showcases is Henrik’s vocals. I was impressed with him on their last album, as he proved himself to be a perfect replacement for Jacob Hansen, actually sounding so similar that I imagine people unaware of the change may not have even guessed it was a different singer. On this album he sounds even better, as he sounds much more powerful on the heavier sections than he did before, while on the more mellow sections he often sings in a much lower register than normal, particularly during that acoustic section on “Airways”. He also does an amazing job of making you feel those well above average lyrics.

I already hinted at it somewhat, but the biggest highlight of this album for me is “Breach Of Faith”. Not only because of the amazingly haunting lyrics and vocals, but also because it’s such a well composed song, with everything being executed to perfection. Particular highlights include the melancholic tone of the piano at the beginning, the incredible guitar solo in the middle, some very subtle and cool tempo changes, and that absolutely incredibly chorus. Other highlights include the surprisingly laid back opener “Destined To Remember”, which nonetheless opens up big time in the second half, the very intense and heavy mid tempo track “Hear My Call”, which has probably the second best chorus of the album, and the title track, which is surprisingly complex and full of ideas considering it’s one of the shortest tracks on the album.

As much as I’m impressed by “Breach Of Faith”, the 14 minute epic “A Dream Within A Dream” also deserves special recognition, both for being their longest song ever, and for being another one of the absolute best tracks on this album. A song that really showcases their maturity and their more subtle approach compared to many prog bands, it’s actually somewhat surprising in that it doesn’t have many really huge or explosive moments. Instead it’s just a very calm and slow-building track, which stays very soft and mellow almost the whole way through, only opening up a bit with the riffs towards the end. It’s also a song filled with one memorable vocal section after another, and Henrik is at his absolute best. There’s even a very haunting reprise of “Never Like This” to open the song, and that part really sets the tone for what is certainly a unique and impressive epic.

While I don’t see Anubis Gate ever topping The Detached, they have now delivered their third masterpiece in four albums, with Horizons being one of their absolute best to date. It shows the band evolving into a more modern and at times more mellow sound, while still being as subtle and complex as ever. For longtime fans and for fans of melodic progressive metal in general, this album is an absolute must hear.

 

Written by Travis

Ratings    Travis    10/10

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