Wednesday, March 8, 2023

In Thy Dreams - The Gate of Pleasure (1999)

The Gate of Pleasure is hardly one of the more memorable melodic death metal efforts of the later 90s, but it certainly slaps the band's prior effort hard in the face and lets it know who its daddy is. This is much more savage and dense than its predecessor, and takes ever so slightly more of a risk. By this time, bands entering this niche had to walk either of two roads to make a dent: dial up the extremity, or dial up the melody, and I think when compared to Stream of Dispraised Souls, this one chose the former, not that there isn't a lot of intrinsic melody, rhythm guitars popping off into the usual patterns you'd expect from those in the footsteps of Dark Tranquillity, In Flames and At the Gates, but they don't go out of their way to be 'pretty' on this release, it's much more tuned in to the aggression of the style.

And that is both its strength, and maybe a little of its weakness, as most of the nine tracks and 32 minutes here flow together so tightly that I'd have a hard time picking any individual tunes out of the lineup. They make an interesting use of a guest violin in the opener "Into Infinity" and "Probing Insanity", but I almost wish they would have used it throughout the entirety because it creates a fairly delicious contrast, bringing in a little classical flair to the punishing proceedings. The rhythm guitars are quite solid, the drum battery is claustrophobic and intense, and this one hits a lot with the low end below Jonas Nyrén's rasp, which to be honest, is pretty standard for the Tomas Lindberg style, although this guy splatters it wherever it needs to be to keep the material sounding as dangerous as its going to get. There are a few breakdowns here or there, but they generally keep this stuff fast and frenzied and not just a little angry, but I do feel it lacks a little something...more leadwork, or atmospheric melodies flailing off the top, or more of the use of the violin while they had the guy available.

Even without that, though, The Gate of Pleasure is a passable mid-level effort which kept the band alive in a snowballing scene that had arguably just hit its apex, or was about to, before teetering off across the following decade. The issue, besides the sameness of the material, is that bands like Darkane and Soilwork had arrived with very impressive debut albums, characterized by much stronger songwriting that I frankly think could rival those 'big three' of the Swedish melodeath scene, and a couple other second-stringers like Sins of Omission were also delivering material that was just more memorable, but if you are a diehard for this strain of death and/or thrash metal then The Gate of Pleasure is intense enough to engage you for a short while.

Verdict: Win [7.25/10]

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