Review Summary: Beer soaked satanic retro metal
On September 3rd, 1990, Judas Priest
's speed metal epic Painkiller
was unleashed on the metal world. A genre defining release in every way possible. The next few years were nothing but beer splattered patch filled jean jackets and tight vinyl pants. Somewhere along the line bands forgot what metal was about and decided to start washing their jackets and drinking coke instead of beer. Bewitched is not one of these bands. In 1995 they formed as a side project from bands such as Bloodbath
. A super group of sorts was created. They play what sounds like a mutant child of Iron Maiden
. Thrashy riffs and harsh vocals but classic heavy metal styled leads and solos. At the Gates of Hell
is by far their best release and an album that should be heard by anyone looking for a pure, classic style of metal.
At the Gates of Hell
starts out on a great note with the first half of the album being the very best. Songs such as "Sabbath of Sin" show their more straightforward speed metal side. Fast galloping verses, catchy lead based choruses, and melodic solos. On the opposite end with songs like "Black Mass", you get traditional heavy metal music with black metal tinged vocals. These tracks show the listener that this band is nothing but good old school metal. Nothing technical but the songwriting is top notch. They're not the most dynamic band, but they do change their style enough to stay interesting.
The second half of the album isn't so great. It seems as if they wrote all their catchy riffs and hooks and stuck them in the first 5 or so songs. This half is less about satan and thrash and more about punk influenced heavy metal. Songs like "Enemy of God" will still pull you in but they aren't even nearly as effective as the previous tracks. Further hurting the album, the closer song Infernal Necronomicon is one of the worst songs here. The same band that is full of some of the most memorable riffs in metal wrote a song that sounds like Motorhead if Motorhead didn't write interesting music.
That brings me to my last main point. Bewitched has definitely released a great blackened Motorhead album, but that's all it really is. Not necessarily a bad thing as the mix of styles is great, but it ends up leaving them to repeat themselves after the first half of the album. As long as you're not looking for a band that is reinventing the genre of metal, you can't really go wrong here. Between the over the top satan themed lyrics and the lead guitars stolen from the best bands of the 80s, At the Gates of Hell
proves to be much more than just a random retro album from a side project.