Gateway, a one man death/doom metal band, have released a new EP called Scriptures of Grief. The band is the sole work of Robin Van Oyen who hails from Brugge in Belgium. Released through Sentient Ruin Laboratories, Scriptures of Grief is available as of the 3rd of February. It has also, previously been available on Bandcamp from July 2016.
Musically, Gateway are 100% DIY. Everything that you hear on these songs is played, sung, composed and produced by Robin Van Oyen. It amazes me, the talent these one man band’s have at their disposal. It doesn’t matter if I like, love or hate the music, I am still in awe at their abilities. From Ben Blutzukker to Unearthed Elf to A Cunning Man, these people ooze ability.
Gateway’s music is described as being death/doom that comes straight from the kingdom of the dead. Musically it is said to be sepulchral and bestial and that it will rot your mind and batter your flesh. That is quite a statement but I have to say it is pretty accurate.
Scriptures of Grief has 3 tracks on it, simply named I, II and III. While that may give the impression that it is short, it isn’t. In fact the 3 tracks together are around 30 minutes long which makes this EP about as long as a full hardcore album. Musically, it is an experience. A horrific, skin crawling one, but still an experience. It feels more like a journey through the putrid bowels of hell than a simple collection of music.
The first part of this EP, I, is just under 12 and a half minutes long. It is recorded to sound cavernous. It echoes to the point where it sounds like the music is pouring out from a fiery pit or cave. Starting with what sounds like chimes, wind effects and a mix of muffled growls and screams, it feels ominous. A slow thumping drum joins in and is quickly followed by a heavy, distorted slow riff. When it kicks in after a few minutes of foreboding build up, it is nothing short of hellish. A thunderous rumble of drums over demonic and guttural growls are backed by a doom laden riff and muted screams and wails. The guitars change up to a riff that gives you the feeling of something approaching while you struggle to shake the ominous feeling that all is not well.
Part II is 8 and a half minutes long, so a short one, by these standards. I leads straight into II so there is no momentary escape from this vision of despair. The drum pace picks up and builds into a much faster track with that same rolling thunder beat over vicious sounding guitars. All of this is played with that same echo of pained screams and with Robin’s vicious and evil sounding growls, grunts and roars. The riff switches up, as does the drum beat which keeps the track interesting as well as a little scary. With a few minutes left to go, the guitars pick up the pace to a faster, death metal like riff. All these musical changes happen over the same intense setting of echoes, screeches, growls and that same sense of unease.
III is just over 8 and a half minutes long. Keeping that feeling of animosity, there is a slow thumping drum rhythm played under louder guitar squeals. This intro is broken up by the sudden, terrifying vocals that take over. They are brutal, angry and evil. The sort of singing that invokes images of throats ripping and blood being spat out. After that furious opening, it returns to the creepy atmospherics and introduces an equally ominous tapping of drums. It again makes you feel like something terrible is approaching. Like something bad is about to happen. More squeals, more broody guitar notes and more thumping drums play at a rhythmic pace with the most vicious of growls and roars joining in. The song, and EP, ends in a crescendo of fading noise and distortion alongside a whispered bit of vocals that sounds like an incantation.
I think Scriptures of Grief may be the most accurate and realistic representation of Hell I have ever experienced. There is no messing about here, this music is dark, scary and unsettling. I am a bit torn on it though. On one side I find it fascinating. I am in awe of the creative genius behind it while on the other side, I would struggle to listen to it for long, or regularly. It just isn’t really my thing.
I love that it feels like an experience more than just songs. It genuinely gives you the feeling of a dark and treacherous journey though hell. It is not for the squeamish as it feels evil and scary. You probably shouldn’t listen to it alone in a dark room and it isn’t one for your young kids to overhear. This is the stuff nightmares are made of.
Robin Van Oyen is an exceptional talent. He has created something fascinating and terrifying and any music that invokes such a strong reaction is worth noting. Any music that creates such a vivid image in your mind is worth tons of praise. This EP really needs to be heard to be believed. It isn’t really my thing, but I am glad I have heard it. Scriptures of Grief is well worth checking out, even if just to experience it once.
Scriptures of Grief is available to purchase through Bandcamp or through Sentient Ruin Laboratories now in digital or cassette formats. Check out Gateway on Facebook for more information and make sure to give them a like.
Scriptures of Grief is also now available on Apple Music, Last FM and Spotify.
Gateway - Scriptures of Grief (Sentient Ruin Laboratories)
The Final Score - 7/10
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