Patrons of the Rotting Gate - The Rose Coil
The Path Less Travelled
Progressive Black / Death
12 songs (54' 4")
Release year: 2013
Reviewed by Andy

With the release of their first LP (and indeed, from what I can tell, their first recording, period) a few months ago, Belfast-based Patrons of the Rotting Gate delivers their rather interesting take on black metal. Well, it's billed as "atmospheric black metal" anyway, but the album, The Rose Coil, is a mismash of other extreme metal genres besides black metal; a lot of death and some doom elements come very much into play here, and that shouldn't be a surprise, seeing as Patrons of the Rotting Gate is actually a side project of two members of an Northern Irish tech death group. This one's rather cacophonous, but all that noise is worth it, and it's a lot more focused than it looks at first.

Starting with intro track Tři Tváře and continuing into Tři Závěti (a quick run to Google Translate roughly renders the titles as Czech for "Three Faces" and "Three Wills" respectively), we get a straightforward dose of black metal, with a manically battered drum kit and a storm of guitar blasting, underlying a lead guitar that plays most of the melody; whenever it's absent, the echoing, subterranean vocals of lead man Andrew "Manshrew" Millar, who plays almost all the instruments except for additional guitars, assist the rest of the instruments in crushing the listener. Much of the rhythm instrument section -- bass, keyboards, and guitar --, for example in Carnassial, are completely atonal throughout the track, only playing a dull "dunnh" every few seconds to emphasize the drums and speeding up whenever the lead guitar plays a more recognizable, but still very progressive, riff. Secrets in the Soil, on the other hand, is ominous and echoing, a dreamy piece with clean vocals that verges on nightmare as the instruments get louder and harsher...and then we're back to black metal with Pride in Descent, which stays drivingly harsh till about halfway through the song where it abruptly slows and varies a bit more. That leads right into Chest of Light, which feels like a direct continuation; it takes up where Pride in Descent leaves off with random palm-muted guitar crunches, but goes from fierce drumming from Millar to steady-yet-arrhythmic chords overlaid by lead guitar that slips in a complex riff at opportune moments.

As a listener, I'm normally much more attuned to the melody a band uses in a track than to the rhythm , but halfway through this album I really began to admire the rhythm work of this piece. It's just done so damned cleverly. Millar is the drummer of his other band, so one can expect a strong focus on the drums (and indeed, the drums get favored a little more in the mix than they normally might), but the rhythm guitar and bass go perfectly together and with all that palm muting, join to become a percussive instrument in their own right, except that occasionally the guitar will go off on its own and spew out some wild but disciplined riff, enhancing the song still further. A Perfect Suicide, probably my favorite on the album, starts quiet and restrained, with a screaming guitar solo hidden in the background like something an 80s metal band would have done on one of their quiet tracks, but soon alternates between black metal riffs and chords that sound like they've been pulled out of a deep cave. The last two tracks on the regular version are instrumentals, which are decent but nothing to write home about in my opinion, but if you can, make sure you get a version with the bonus tracks; the two tracks are covers, and the one of Gorguts' The Battle of Chamdo on the second-to-last track is especially good. Instead of the purely orchestral version Gorguts did, Patrons of the Rotting Gate does the whole thing with a thunderously deep bass and screeching, noisy guitars with some soft piano to act as a counterpoint, and it sounds, in my opinion, much better than the original.

The Rose Coil is a very strong first album, and all the technical death background of the two gentlemen in the band pays off very well for a listener willing to invest the time in checking them out. I'd highly recommend this album not only to tech death and progressive black metal fans, but also to fans of progressive death metal bands like Gojira.

Killing Songs :
Carnassial, Secrets In The Soil, A Perfect Suicide, The Battle of Chamdo (bonus track)
Andy quoted 89 / 100
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