Review Summary: Anubis Gate needs a serious reality check.
Every power metal band has a gimmick: Dragonforce uses video game sounds, Nightwish has a huge orchestra, and Epica mixes grunts with beautiful vocals. With such overwhelming gimmicks in the music industry, surely a lesser-known band such as Anubis Gate must have one! Anubis Gate, however, have no intention to follow expectations or learned boundaries, they aim to surprise. As far as Anubis Gate is concerned, there is no need for a full orchestra to simulate an epic experience. The band likes their sound, and by golly, they are going to keep it that way! Their newest album, The Detached, is the sound of an experienced band doing what they usually do but better – sort of. The following question must then follow: what exactly do they do?
Anubis Gate is a progressive power metal band similar to bands such as Epica and Dream Theater. Although the band’s name may suggest a strong tie to Ancient Egypt, (Anubis is an Egyptian god, who was originally the god of the Dead), their Egyptian influence provides a distant inspiration. The song ‘Pyramids’ for example, sounds exactly how it should sound, like a walk through some middle-eastern desert with camels - lots of camels. Certain melodies and guitar chords also follow the Arabian scale but only to a point. Their sci-fi influence is generally more prevalent and yet the ever-present Egyptian guitar chords suggest an exotic presence. To sum up the band’s atmosphere in a metaphor: Anubis Gate sounds like if Anubis turned the pyramids into spaceships and launched into the universe while singing.
The problem with the group’s atmospheric clash of Egyptian and space inspired music is the sanitization. Anubis Gate is an immensely melodic band and refuses to move an inch beyond their barely distorted, squeaky clean guitars. The album is polished to the point of ridiculousness, and the lead singer’s perfect singing questions how much he used auto-tune. The band may not have a full orchestra, but what they do have is keyboards - keyboards that emulate choirs of emotionless vocals without breaking a sweat. ‘Yiri’, for example, starts off with a promising drum beat but drowns in a sea of virtual voices and a horribly annoying chorus.
Anubis Gate’s tendencies suffocate their music. The band is labeled as a progressive metal band, but “boring metal” would be a more fitting term. The band is so busy trying to be progressive, melodic, and celestial, that they forget to add the ferocious aspects of a metal band. ‘Going Nowhere’ has such overwhelming synthesizers, atmospherics, and cheesy moments, that the guitars are pushed to the background, practically as an added addition. The band Ra also shares a celestial and Egyptian atmosphere but they pull it off without batting an eye. In a tragic and ironic twist, ‘Lost in Myself’ ends up as the best song from the album. Although it has massively auto-tuned vocals, safe guitars, excessive cheese, and even a key change, the blatant melody somehow saves the song. Interestingly, the song shares an uncanny resemblance to Ra’s ‘I Believe Again’, especially in the chorus – this is a good thing. If Anubis Gate cut out the fat in their songs and played to gain attention, they may even succeed. Instead, they seem to be playing to themselves. Poorly.