Threshold of Revelation
posted on 3/2006 By:
Time was when musical weirdness was all it took to stave off imitators in the metal world. You never really saw anyone ripping off Cynic or Human Remains because, well, they did some fucked-up shit and it’d be pretty goddamn tough (and pretty goddamn obvious, at that) to successfully pull off a simulacrum of their respective sounds. The advent of higher standards of musicianship in metal has broken down these boundaries to some degree, which is a mixed blessing. On one hand, virtually all sloppiness in today’s metal is deliberate and the genre is otherwise generally a study in technical perfection. Conversely, though, the skill level barrier that defended metal’s more complex and bizarre outposts from mimicry has largely been dissolved. Bands like Gorguts, Meshuggah and The Dillinger Escape Plan wouldn’t even have existed fifteen years ago, but now they’ve even got squads of sound-alikes lining up to snatch their crowns from atop their heads. In a similar (although less extreme) vein, the thrash/power/prog hybrid oddity that is Nevermore stood more or less alone in their eccentricity for most of their existence. In the past year, though, bands with a suspicious musical kinship have suddenly cropped up. Symphorce, Eden’s Fall, and now Twelfth Gate have all tried their hands at the Northwesterners’ wacky synthesis, and these latest fall right in line with their peers’ undeveloped promise.
Threshold of Revelation is Twelfth Gate’s second full length album, and the first with new guitarist Jim Stopper added to their preexisting lineup. Next to their obvious heroes, there’s a little less obvious thrash and proggy meandering and a little more chunky death metal stomp. Drummer Mike Nevaril plays a prominent role in delivering the intense goods with frequent and effective use of the good ol’ fashion double bass roll, and guitarists Stopper (formerly of the little-appreciated Oppressor) and Rich Knight both contribute comparatively brutal riffage on tracks like “Critical Elements,” “Human Swine” and jagged opener “Loyal.” Twelfth Gate wisely focus less on the wild guitar aeronautics than fellows Eden’s Fire and more on the sticking choruses and thunderous riffing. The band certainly scores some hits in this department; vocalist Scott Huffman delivers probably the best Warrell Dane impression I’ve ever heard (make of that what you will) and his voice works to great effect on “Together Divided” and the aforementioned “Loyal.”
Ultimately, though, I have the same problem with Twelfth Gate that I do with other like-minded bands. Nevermore’s sound is so distinctive, and the band so good at executing that sound, that any act that strays too far into their territory is at risk of being dwarfed. These Chicagoans understandably suffer from this difficulty. It’s not a dearth of instrumental dexterity or compositional skill, it’s just that Twelfth Gate similarly enough to Nevermore that their inability to beat the older band at their own game is obvious. Another valiant effort by skilled up-and-comers, but it looks like there’s still only room for one thrash/power/prog/whatever crossover act in this world.
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