Mausoleum Gate - Into a Dark Divinity - (5/10)
Published on September 11, 2017
Mausoleum Gate are an odd band in the otherwise not-so-odd traditional metal revival. Borne as much from 70’s hard rockin’ mysticism as they were from early NWOBHM experimentation they straddled an odd line between two eras of metal’s past but emerged sounding more confident than most dedicated practitioners of either. Last year the “Metal and the Might / Demon Soul” single showed that they still were determined to flaunt their mastery of this tricky and highly specific style. Come 2017 and Into Dark Divinity has arrived and they’ve unfortunately fumbled this time around.
The long story short is that rather than dancing on the smoky line that divided heavy metal and various 70’s rock stylings, they’ve essentially tipped to the latter for something similar to what Tarot were doing on 2016’s Reflections. They are similar to Tarot in that at their most hard hitting they are similar to Saracen’s Heroes, Saints & Fools with a bit of a mystical Pagan Altar touch but where Tarot soar and Mausoleum Gate are now floundering is songcraft and sonic direction. Mausoleum Gate’s song simply plod for too long when they do progressive epics and no amount of authentically kitschy synths and fuzz-tinged production can really help that. “Apophis” is a particularly damning example of such, carried by its pseudo-gothic keyboard playing to an extent normally reserved for the more obnoxious of progressive/power metal bands while shorter tracks like “Burn the Witches at Dawn” and “Horns” sound like attempts to recapture the fastest parts of the debut. The problem is that they lean onto hard rock noodling and jaunty, biteless chords where they once manifested weird Manilla Road/Cirith Ungol esque sorceries and simple but effective playing.
It doesn’t help that when they try to write 9+ minute songs they aren’t really as structurally adventurous as the progressive rock bands whose mystical mood they’re trying to capture. These three overblown songs end up feeling like ballads stretched out way longer than they can realistically maintain their own tension, sleepy and dreary in their soft synth-addled delivery and then underwhelming when the Rainbow/Deep Purple styled riffing finally manifests, doing too little and too late. There are a few moments on the ending of the title track and “Solomon’s Key” that show a lot of promise but sadly, they do little to really relieve one of the skullduggery that seems to have taken over their sound.
Previously I would have put Mausoleum Gate among fellow Finns like Chevalier, Rotor, Angel Sword, and Legionnaire but after this rather listless showing, I’m beginning to have my doubts. They’ve fallen prey to their own charming aesthetic and let it dictate their musical direction rather than letting it round out their rough edges and featuring it as an additional layer of depth. It’s a shame with all the parts that sound promising but then get buried under faux-old school self-indulgence and sections that hint at hard hitting if off-kilter metal madness but at their best feel like they were rough drafts thankfully cut out from earlier in their career. Hopefully, they’ll get their act together for a follow up.