Review Summary: Rose Funeral have taken their first step into the realm of Death Metal or you could say UNO caused an epiphany.
As time goes on music changes and with that change comes death, by death, I mean the fading out of the bands who can’t keep their head above water. In the day and age we live in, we’re barraged with vast quantities of genres, sub-genres and bands that fill them. A genre that is steadily declining is the notorious ‘Deathcore’, with this decline comes an increase of bands trying to transition themselves from ‘Deathcore’ to Death Metal. One of these bands is Rose Funeral. On their third full length Gates of Punishment, they venture out of the ‘core’ and into the metal, it’s a bold move and it works for the most part.
With the change in vocalist, fans were concerned that Rose Funeral simply wouldn’t be the same due to him being the staple of their iconic ‘core’ sound. However, his departure has not hindered the band, it has benefited them. Gone are the inaudible growls and Pig squeals, it no longer sounds like someone is steadily ***ting and vomiting in your ears at the same time. The new vocals are audible and have a sense of power, contributing to the atmosphere the lyrics create. The range is your standard lows and highs, yet the highs are used sparingly, being welcomed when they come into play. The lows aren’t monotone in the sense of annoyance instead they’re consistent and flexible. If you’re worried about the vocals possibly becoming stale, there are few boosts to the fairly expected projection; 1) there is vocal layering, a common for most ‘metal’ bands now days, the layering helps the lows by enabling them to maintain a sense of freshness, when the highs are thrown into the mix it’s a nice addition. 2) There are two guest vocalists, Steve Tucker from Morbid Angel and Kate Alexander an opera singer, both help switch up the tempo of the songs they’re featured in, Tucker delivers a menacing verse and Kate offers an eerie, haunted feeling. Rose Funeral do not offer a banquet of mind-blowing vocals on this album, they offer the typical but improved death metal-esque sound you’d expect.
Breakdowns, the word causes people to wince and automatically be deterred from bands; Gates of Punishment features quite a few, it would have been a minor problem, although the breakdowns are so typical, so generic that it just harms the flow of certain songs. They enter abruptly being dragged out near the end of good songs, which is frustrating. Riffing and solos are commonplace, both parts are played relatively well, the few solos that appear are fairly good. However one is repeated in the interlude, it still has an effect but it comes across lazy. The drums are fast-paced, it’s nice just to ‘zone out’ sometimes and listen to the crashing and thudding of the cymbals and snares. Rose Funeral also dabble with synthesised strings and piano used for intro’s and outro’s on a couple of songs, they bring a sense of atmosphere and emotion to the music. It helps the songs stand out, there structure of placement is simple but effective. Gates of Punishment offers a mildly good instrumental dish; it’s held back by what appears to be the fear of Rose Funeral’s reluctance to completely abandon their ‘core’ roots, whether that is due to loss of fans or that they’re still adjusting, is unclear. If there were more interesting solos and some moments weren’t so ‘Our first attempt at standard Death Metal’ then the album would be much better. On the other hand, it’s a fun listen and isn’t anything too daunting or technical for those who like their metal simple.
Sonically, Gates of Punishment sounds clear and crisp, every instrument is audible to a degree and it isn’t over-produced nor over-saturated with the attempted exaggeration of ‘heaviness’. The album has a dark, sometimes morbid and at times climatic feeling to it. Most songs have their own identity, there are a few that sound too familiar at times, there is nothing awful though.
Rose Funeral have produced a good first attempt of progression. Gates of Punishment shows they’re willing and trying hard to leave their ‘core’ roots behind in a trail of ashes. They need to stop relying on breakdowns and branch out more, if they try to be more creative with their guitars it would benefit them greatly. Some may say this album is awful, some may say this isn’t good enough considering it is their third album and some may say this isn’t a bad start to a long road ahead; whatever your view, you cannot condemn them for trying to progress and to become a better band than what they were known for. Rose Funeral have a long road ahead of them, it’s possible for them to achieve the end goal of becoming a much tighter, technical, all-round improved band.