New symphonic / power metal from Ireland is always welcome, and Gate XIII, a studio project from Derry, certainly come with all the right trappings. They are, however, missing the most essential trapping of all for this style: good vocals.
But let’s start with the instruments, because at least there it’s fair to say they’re on the right track.
They’ve got the flashy keyboard presets, the synth pad backing and the pulsing, well played bassline. The by now familiar robo-drums are neither simplistic nor intrusive, and so dont betray their origins too badly. The guitars too are played okay, though the leads have some way to go yet before attaining the fluid technicality generally demanded here.
Their tracks are pretty much par for the course, being moody, wispy and with an element of fantasia and longing in them. They’re well executed, and their stated influences of Angra (now there’s first) and Sonata Arctica certainly come through.
Now to the vocals. There’s no other way to say that if Gate XIII want to push onward – which they’re well capable of doing on the basis of this – they’ve got to get a decent singer pronto.
I suspect the vocals have been done in a bedroom here. They’ve no power and are sung right up in front of the mic, with all the shitty pops and inconsistencies that brings.
But sound design is the least of the problems they face. They’re out of tune, timorous and just all round not good enough for this style. The last few tracks has a girl on vocals as well. While generally better pitched, she suffers from the same issues. She’s aiming at the range of Sharon Den Adel from Within Temptation, and to her credit, is in the right places. As with her colleague however, the nervousness comes through.
I think Gate XIII’s strength is in their rhythm playing – not the flourishes and technical surety that usually finish out an epic / power metal band. They can learn those though. At least they’ve got the basics down in terms of instrumentation.
That singer advert has to go up in the music shop soon as, however – for both. That nice art may hark to Primal Fear, but it’s no use if the singing makes it all hard too hard to sit through.
- Earl Grey ::: 26/04/11