Return to Earth

Gates to the Morning

GATES TO THE MORNING are a New Jersey Post Black Metal band driven by the […]
August 3, 2019
Gates to the Morning - Return to Earth album cover

GATES TO THE MORNING are a New Jersey Post Black Metal band driven by the singular vision of Sean Meyers. Pulling from a myriad set of influences, ranging from OPETH to Art Blakey by way of TOOL, they have rapidly refined a sound that is wholly their own and speaks to a dark unreality. With his Jazz background balanced with a long history in the infamous New Jersey DIY scene, Meyers hoped to create something powerful and thoughtful with "Return to Earth." The end result, and consequent live band, features performances from a variety of players, ranging from childhood friends to fellow Jazz musicians. "Return to Earth" is a concept album with lyrics orbiting around the twin concepts of challenge and triumphs, the pitfalls and mountaintops found on a journey of awakening and enlightenment. The album contains 14 tracks.

"King Obscure" leads us off, with soft and clean guitar notes, and a melancholy feeling. Charming piano notes join in as well, along with bass guitar and some other programming. It segues into "Terra Incognita," which opens with a slow pace of distorted guitars and clean, harmonic vocals. It picks up pace just before the half-way mark, with anguished vocals and furious drumming. "Surveying Forgotten Landscapes" opens with a slow, doleful sound, mostly from clean and acoustic guitars, but that bass line can be heard well also. It has an alluring charm to it as well as the despondent sound. Very well done. "My Star" is another shorter song ahead of four longer songs. The single clean guitar notes are easy to listen to, and the little background ambiance of simulated strings ads depth to the music. Clean vocals are very tender and melodious.

"Crossing the Abyss" is about four-and-a-half minutes in length, and more traditional in terms of the Black Metal sound, but done with equal parts of melody. The clean vocals bring another element to the music. "Freezing the Sundials" is a seven minute song. Tinged with elements of Progressive Metal, like DEVON TOWNSEND, they really nail some nice melody in the song. In fact, Encyclopedia Metallum labels them as "Progressive Metal" and this song shows that moniker very well. Time shifts, and keyboards provide a balance here that is uncanny. Some Black Metal vocals come into play after the half way mark, but the song never loses melody.

"Chapel Perilous" features some soft and slow guitars, and clean vocals that echo as they would alone in a chapel. I appreciate the diversity they bring to the table here. This song is reminiscent of OPETH...very delicate and pretty in a depressing sort of way. "Crestfallen" takes the opposite direction, coming for your throat out of the gates, with thunderous drumming and that "wall of sound" that often accompanies Black Metal. The female vocals are unexpected but very welcomed. "Haunting the Third Chamber" is a short mood setting instrumental, lasting only about a minute, with some chilling clean guitars. "Chasing Shadows" opens with some tense accents. The clean vocals are mesmerizing, building this solemn but pretty sound. Dissonant piano keys mark an odd passage that quickly turns bright.

"Two Winters" opens with some clean guitars and a feeling of calmness. It really straddles the line between hope and despair...bringing out emotions you didn't think you had. This song has an air of mystery to it...almost as if you are wandering a vast and cold wasteland with only your thoughts to occupy you. "Steadfast" opens with some slow and pretty tones. It really breathes nicely. I am absolutely impressed with the vast array of sounds presented on this album so far. This is just a simple melody, but so effective and catchy. "Rekindled" opens with a nice little melody line. The piano lines are very pretty. Then the drums come crashing in. The energy level picks up but still following that opening melody.

"Return to Earth" is a quicker ending song, picking up on a similar melody to the previous song. Female clean vocals lead the way here. It crescendos and then slowly fades out. I disagree completely with a previous review I read about the album, calling it "disjointed" and "meandering." I find that is exactly the strength of the album. The amount of diversity presented here is impressive. Though nearly 60 minutes in length and 14 songs, each one has a part to tell in the story. It's impossible to pigeon hole this band as well. There are tons of different elements from Black to Post-Black to Progressive, but always done with creative melody and masterful songwriting. This was such a unique and enjoyable listening experience for me!

9 / 10

Almost Perfect








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"Return to Earth" Track-listing:

1. King Obscure
2. Terra Incognita
3. Surveying Forgotten Landscapes
4. My Star
5. Crossing the Abyss
6. Freezing the Sundials
7. Chapel Perilous
8. Crestfallen
9. Haunting the Third Chamber
10. Chasing Shadows
11. Two Winters
12. Steadfast
13. Rekindled
14. Return to Earth

Gates to the Morning Lineup:

Sean Meyers - Guitars, Drums, Vocals, Keyboards, Composition
Mark Glaser - Lead Guitars
Jon Lopez - Acoustic and Classical Guitars, Fretless Bass
Dylan Jacobus - Bass
Meg Moyer - Vocals
Ædan McEvoy - Lever Harp, Live Keyboards
Anthony Gobeille - Studio Keyboards and Synthesizers

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