Gatekeeper – From Western Shores
Formed in Edmonton, Alberta, in 2009, Gatekeeper decided to go west for inspiration, landing in Vancouver, British Columbia. This move allowed the Epic Heavy/Power Metal band to get into the burgeoning underground scene there. Now, working their way out of the underground, they’ve released From Western Shores, a follow-up to 2018s East Of The Sun. Their sophomore effort is an intense selection of carefully chosen songs to hit you right in the ears with powerful vocals, crushing rhythms, and intricate guitar work. So sit back and get ready for eight new tracks that will have your head banging from start to finish.
- Tyler “Tex” Anderson – Vocals
- Jeff Black – Rhythm Guitars
- Adam Bergen – Lead Guitars
- David Messier – Bass
- Tommy Tro – Drums
March 24, 2023 – Cruz Del Sur Music https://www.cruzdelsurmusic.com/
- From Western Shores
- Death On Black Wings
- Shadow And Stone
- Exiled King
- Twisted Towers
- Desert Winds
- Keepers Of The Gate
We begin with the title track, “From Western Shores,” which opens with the sound of waves crashing. After that relative bit of calm, the music kicks in, and we get the command to “bow down.” Piercing screams follow vocally while the main riff settles in. The rhythm has a nice chugging pattern and a great mid-tempo pace. Intricate lead guitar work over the riff keeps the ears engaged with cool fills and excellent solo work. The chants of the backing vocals add texture to the vocal melodies.
“Death On Black Wings” starts with the drums setting the pace for the song. As with so many Power and Epic Metal bands, each musician gets to play the lead at times, and they all work together to create massive waves of sound. Vocally, you get everything from soaring head voice to gritty, distorted lows backed by chants at some points and harmonies at other times. After the heaviness of track two, “Shadow And Stone” comes in with a heavy riff but a more melodic rhythm in the intro before turning back to the heavier tones.
For “Exiled King,” they open with really melodic guitar tones and a slower pace. A marching drumbeat transitions to the next section of the song, helping to pick up the pace. The tempo of this track may be slower in some areas, but they increase the intensity with fantastic guitar work, flourishing in more lead work to build the track into something more epic. That is followed by “Nomads,” a faster track with excellent drum work. I love when he rides the cymbal hard through the earlier section of the song.
Another thing that frequently happens in Power Metal is longer songs. Many bands still go for the three-minute track because that used to get you on the radio. Gatekeeper’s shortest song on this record is 4:50. “Twisted Towers” may be shorter, but it has plenty of goods to offer. I know I haven’t mentioned the bass yet, and that is not right. It is ever-present, lurking under the guitars, steady, heavy, and right on time. He could come forward in the mix without distorting the overall sound, but he’s always there, even when you are distracted by the guitars.
Back to a chugging, almost NWOBHM-inspired sound, “Desert Winds” is a melodic tune with excellent pacing and two great phrases that alternate throughout the song, shifting back and forth in an almost hypnotic way. The modulated guitar solo is different and very well done. This is the “not heavy” song that still carries a lot of weight and power, regardless of the slower tempo.
The album concludes with the epic, eight-plus-minute “Keepers Of The Gate,” a track that dabbles in Progressive Metal because it has the time to expand into newer areas. This song brings the album full circle, completing the journey we’ve been on and closing the tale musically and lyrically. The heavily layered vocals add a lot of depth and texture to the track, giving it that feeling of being bigger than the rest of the album. The tempo shifts are beautifully done, the voice hits every corner of the singers’ range, and the composition reinforces the epic size of the story.
Gatekeeper knows how to craft songs, using the instruments to influence and lead the mind, engage the emotions, and allow the listener to paint a picture in their own mind of how everything looks based on the story as they interpret it. Epic Power Metal is supposed to do this, and Gatekeeper does not disappoint.
- Guitars – 9
- Rhythms – 9
- Vocals – 9
- Songwriting – 9
- Production – 9
- Overall – 9.00