Kromrod the Fierce wiped the blood from his massive broadsword. The chill fog of the Northern Wastes cleared the fetid dungeon air from his senses. He adjusted his loin cloth and stepped down the stony embankment.
There was a dwelling ahead – a crude yurt made of skins and hempen rope. A woman peered out of the doorway at the swarthy barbarian. Her eyes were as dark as her hair and her breasts as ample as a king’s banquet. The smell of sorcery and some sort of roasted meat was about her.
“Would you…like to…listen to some records…and warm yourself by my fire?” She asked in a slithering tone.
Kromrod grunted a reply, and pushed his way into the smokey darkness of the hut.
The woman presented the barbarian with a curved clay pipe and lit the bowl with a wave of her fingers.
“What is it you seek, barbarian?” she asked, crawling over to a box of crow skulls and LPs.
“I seek a standard.” Kromrod said, exhaling blue smoke from the hash pipe, “Two snakes, coming together, facing each other…but they’re like, one…” He drew heavily on the pipe again. “Like on a shield, or a banner, or the side of a van.”
“Or a bass drum head?” The woman whispered, putting the needle on the record and ripping off her flimsy silken kimono and throwing herself at Kromrod’s heavily muscular form…
Sometimes when I’m listening to the new Gates of Slumber record, I feel like I’m watching an epic sword and sorcery film play out in my mind. Or an especially spirited round of D&D back in the day.
The cover of the power trio’s fourth epic-length album, Hymns of Blood and Thunder, features an obsidian-armored warrior, dealing the death stroke to some wretched goblinoids, while a scantily-clad sorceress babe looks on. Oh yeah, and there are some lightning bolts and crows too.
One would think that this would be some tongue-in-cheek cover by some irreverent hipster or tongue-in-cheek stoner rock band, but the Gates of Slumber have had quite enough of that shit. Their love of fantasy lore and legend runs deep with nary a trace of irony, suspension of cool, or pretension. TheyÁ¢€â„¢re the real deal.
Hymns of Blood and Thunder is heavily armed with an aggressive, riff-driven sound that recalls classic Priest or Maiden, but retains an epic doomy quality, like early Candlemass. Raw, stripped down, and masculine. But these doomlords from Indiana add some interesting flourishes that set a real tone throughout the whole album. Á¢€Å“Beneath the Eyes of MarsÁ¢€ and Á¢€Å“Descent Into MadnessÁ¢€ feature some weird synths and background ambiance. Á¢€Å“The Mist in the MourningÁ¢€ is a full-on madrigal-sounding piece with female vocals and lightly strummed acoustic guitars (lutes?). Á¢€Å“Age of SorrowÁ¢€ is a brief instrumental passage that climaxes with some very emotive lead guitar setting the stage for the following song Á¢€” the heavy as fuck Á¢€Å“The Bringer of War.Á¢€
do not, I repeat, do not, fuck with these guys
Hymns of Blood and Thunder drops on September 24th on Rise Above Records but you can pre-order it now, along with a sick-ass t-shirt, from Relapse. Also be sure and check out the rest of their catalog. Last year’s Conqueror became a modern metal masterpiece and showed up on many “best of 2008” lists.
Roll for initiative, sharpen your falchion and respect the power and glory that is the Gates of Slumber.