Review Summary: Unlike many albums in and around the genre, Kingdom Of Mind is very mature, dynamic and dauntingly well written.
While falling under the label with blatancy, Within Our Gates are certainly NOT your typical cookie cutter Metalcore band. The Harrisonburg, VA quintet might be in fact giving the first steps towards a very successful career. After various lineup adjustments and almost two years of hard work, Kingdom Of Mind
sees its rightful light.
Upon the beginning of Kingdom Of Mind
you are immersed into what one might refer to as a journey. 61 minutes of striding between palm muting riffs and Melodeath
harmonic guitar lines, with the occasional breakdown and some progressive passages. It’s one very meaty beast. The beauty of it comes from the fact that it’s not the mess it could have been if the band hadn’t structured and written the album well – they very fortunately did. Despite the album’s lengthy nature, Within Our Gates present their vision in the form of a very harmoniously sequenced album; the songwriting capable of bringing many reputable bands to shame. The alluring melodic guitar lines, some good alternate picking sections – the guitar solos. The solos frequently heard throughout the album let clear that there is some serious talent behind the guitars. The execution on the second half of Conception
is one to be acknowledged, but not less than the one on Perdition Pt.2
or even Reconstructing The Divine
. Another highlight on Kingdom Of Mind
would be the vocals. From Perdition Pt.1
, the album embraces a heavier feeling as the band approaches a more Death Metal oriented sound, and that is definitely where Logan Strawderman shines the most. His tone is the perfect fit for the overcast nature of said songs. That said, he holds a very solid contribution throughout the album and adds up to the mature sound the band practices. And if Logan has that part covered and assured, Hunter Carter pulls no punches on his singing. Most of the songs on Kingdom Of Mind
feature clean singing interventions, mostly on choruses. The thing is that unlike many bands that try to make effective use of clean vocals, Within Our Gates accomplish that quite well. It actually makes most of the songs more interesting and dynamic. A particular moment in which that occurs would be on the band’s single, Seeking Sanity
. A song that (speaking of which) stands as the answer to anyone asking themselves if there’s still possible to make a good Metalcore song these days without straying a lot from the genre’s rooted schematics.
Serving as both the album’s backbone and hips, the bassist Tim Wiggins does a bang up job at keeping up with the guitars and his input mixes perfectly within every single song on the album. It comes into evidence that Anthony Lopardo and Ray Marte did a very decent job producing the album, although leaving some (minor) edges to polish. While making Kingdom Of Mind
sound wonderful most of the time, there are moments in which the lead guitars seem to come off slightly unbalanced on the mix, or the voice seems to sink into the background more than it should. An example of that would be present in Perdition Pt.2
; in some segments of the song the voice seems to struggle quite a bit to remain decipherable - minor issues that not even by far spoil the experience.
Like implicit in previous statements, Within Our Gates don’t spare on the diversity of their sound. KOM
starts and builds upon a lively but contained posture, much like a young child watching the world through a grown man’s eyes. It’s by Perdition Pt.1
that said child seems to have become the grown man, with a harsh reality at hindsight. That’s not exactly how the album’s conceptualized, but one might say it comes close, and that’s just the feeling you get from both music and lyrics at that given time. More meticulously though, KOM
’s lyrics tell the story of a man trying to “rebuild” himself through the exploration of his conscience and quarrels with his demons, while experiencing a coma. The way the story entwines with the music itself is admirable, and makes the album come together even better. It all adds up to make the 61 minutes easier to get through; and even more dynamic. The lyrics on this are also very well written. Despite some clichéd lines, Within Our Gates manage to pull some pretty impressive, epic lyrical moments. First time I actually quote lyrics, this really calls for it, and I mean it:
Terror rushes through my veins.
Fear is the spawn of my hatred.
Horror is a vicious laceration,
that’s bleeding the violence of my own creation.
We have come for your world,
built on lust, seduction, bringing death and destruction to all.
It’s an insidious rite of passage to devour
the survivors and stack the dead in the masses.
To take your time, sit and read through some of the lyrics would be a great way to experience the album in the way the band intended their listeners to do it.
Going towards the second half of the album, you find the Progressive hinted Dolor
serving as a cooler for the album’s fervent nature. Here the band’s capabilities are seen to another level, as the band shows exactly how diverse and hearted they can be. After going through a couple more solid tracks (Seeking Sanity
being one of the band’s best efforts), you will find Reconstructing The Divine
. There’s no questioning how deep this song intends to go, and it really does. Praising melody instead of chaos, this would have been the perfect finisher for this album, and in the right time too. Finishing up the album comes the homonym track. A display of technical quality (and yet another well written song), where everything connects well, but perhaps not well enough to justify another almost 10 minutes of continuance.
So where does Kingdom Of Mind
fall short? To an extent, in its genre limitations. The Metalcore riffs are solid and well executed, but one can’t help but to feel that the band seems to play safe and doesn’t stray too much from what has been done before. It makes for a more accessible, familiar, but also less vibrant focus of the album. Other than that, a few transitions come across a bit abrupt. An example of that is the transition by the third minute of Dolor
, that halts a harmonized riff in virtue of an acoustic passage (a good one at that). It doesn’t come close of damaging the song(s) ; just the kind of thing that could use and deserves a slight improvement. Pointing out that a band shouldn’t have made an album a few minutes too long proves to be a hard task to take on with a light head, much more if minded that the album tells us a story. That said, the last 10 minutes of KOM
still represent a hard extension to digest, for an already generously lengthy album.
In conclusion, Kingdom Of Mind
is an extremely good album. It’s not a breakthrough release, but still very impressive in many ways – If not for anything else, it stands as a Within Our Gates’ first effort, which is amazing given the length and depth of the album. The dynamism, mellowness and diversity of the album is outstanding, and the band ends up tying 61 minutes together without sacrificing the interest of the listener. Within Our Gates are skilled at delivering Metalcore, excellent at their Melodeath
segments and sure know how to grab the acoustic guitar and show a bit of their Progressive side. They most surely do know how to combine all that into one very interesting, rewarding album. Let’s add up by saying that Within Our Gates are also a very young Metalcore band that actually knows how to use breakdowns. If bands such as In Flames, Misery Signals, Killswitch Engage or even Parkway Drive speak to you in some way, this might be just right up your alley.
Kingdom of Mind
takes its time to sink in, like a lot other albums worthy of consideration, but it also keeps you coming back for another listen. And another. And another.