Review Summary: This is what happens when a castigating, haunting smear of violent genres is haunted by a castigating, boring smear of violent genres.
Rarely does an album cover tell all, but in the case of Gate to Gate's I Turn Black Keys
, it's a tell-all confessional, as the scribble-scrabble scrawl and abstract mansion on the cover correctly shout out that this album will be dark and unforgiving. It's committed to giving you nothing less than a non-stop sensory assault - nothing less than a culmination of all things morose and grim by using blustering distortion, absolutely terrifying howls and chilling stretches of determined noise to represents some awful, haunting loneliness. It encompasses despair and agony throughout over an hour's worth of material, and though it's generally a convincing atmosphere, it's a tiring one that leads to the album's overall downfall.
Listeners begin their descent into the hellish place that is I Turn Black Keys
with a song by the same name, a nearly forty-minutes-long whir of noises that oscillate between dissonant pitches and squalls. For the first few minutes, the track does as intended, but a violent yet predictable percussion-based maelstrom comes in and refuses to go anywhere or do much that's entertaining. Certainly it's nothing that warrants its hilariously pretentious runtime. Spacious drones collide with black metal's guitar tones and distortion, but overall the track is a prolonged mess of lo-fi dark ambient ideas with no real unifying theme or focal point to bring them together into a mildly interesting whole. However, things get better when tracks are cut down to ten minutes long and these dissonant yet expansive soundscapes become more refined.
"Bane Part 1" shows Gate to Gate doing what they do best: building up a cantankerous wall of glitches, guitar chords and percussion fits only to let it disintegrate into some otherworldly smear of discord and despair. The song's second part continues this atmosphere in an involving, catastrophic smear with howls and shrieks all over. It evolves into some droning abyss of ambience, and from there it transforms into some visceral brand of black metal, thus proving Gate to Gate as masters of musical metamorphosis. Each of their build-ups, transitions and atmospheric shifts (from sad to wrathful, essentially) show Gate to Gate delivering the horror goods with a macabre touch and an eerie instant that's almost too good to miss. But unfortunately they throw all this potential to the curb with some over half-hour long mess of placid, abrasive drones that starts I Turn Black Keys
on such a terrible path that it would have taken some miracle for the makers to guide it back on the right one. That overlong, arduous amalgam of lo-fi black metal and hammering noise is perhaps the only drawback - no, it is
the only drawback - to an otherwise haunting, castigating release of mammoth, and I mean mammoth, proportions.