White Ring
Gate Of Grief


3.5
great

Review

by SowingSeason STAFF
July 27th, 2018 | 12 replies


Release Date: 2018 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Not the magnum opus it could have been, but a thrilling witch house album nonetheless.

White Ring are an odd band to critique because in ten years, they’ve released exactly one EP, a splattering of singles (including a collaboration with oOoOO), but absolutely nothing else – until now, that is. That’s right, Gate of Grief marks the witch house band’s full-length debut, an odd prospect for an outfit that has been around for a decade. Nevertheless, they made a seamless re-entry into the spotlight with the chilling single ‘Leprosy’, a two-and-a-half minute explosion of electronic and house elements bolstered by a NIN ‘Heresy’ industrial groove beat that felt evil to its very core. It set quite the precedent: Gate of Grief would need to be equally as unsettling, matching the monumental tone set by that song’s atmosphere. Easy, right?

Ridiculous expectations aside, Gate of Grief actually sort of succeeds in living up to its own hype. The whole record, which comes in at fourteen tracks, doesn’t have an equally blistering effect from start to finish. However, it does bring some different styles to the table, at times putting its nose to the grindstone (the gritty beat of ‘Nothing’), while at other times losing itself in harrowing ambient space, such as the primarily whispered/spoken ‘Low.’ Gate of Grief picks up the most steam mid-record, gearing up with the cinematic war feel of ‘Puppy’ and continuing through ‘Chained’ – a song whose eerie and layered harmonizing atop of an insanely infectious rhythm feels like the beginning of a coven ritual – or a march straight to the gates of hell. These are the sorts of pictures that White Ring paints: damned souls, fascist dictatorships, satanic symbols, and essentially all things bleak.

With that said, the message occasionally gets lost. The stylistic variety propels each track to stand comfortably on its own, but when those lines are blurred into an album, things get a bit more messy. Tracks such as ‘Close Yr Eyes’ feel a little too streamlined to fit in comfortably alongside the rest of the moments here, opting for a straight-up dance/techno/pop vibe that doesn’t mesh well at all with the tones of despair that Gate of Grief works hard at setting up elsewhere. Additionally, what works on each song individually becomes tiresome across a span of forty eight minutes – the glitch beats, the fragmented vocals, the shrill synth spikes – they all begin to morph into one indistinguishable entity. It’s for this reason that you could extract just about any single moment from Gate of Grief and have it sound earth-shattering, but then place it back into the context of the record and be bored by it again. It’s an odd sensation – and not one that is necessarily a damning fault – but one that prevents White Ring’s debut from realizing its full atmospheric potential.

Gate of Grief is an album that hits hard and fast. The surreal, otherworldly aura combined with debased, grimy beats and shrill, harmonized vocals is likely to make for an impactful first listen. It’s not the sort of album that reveals itself over time or offers layered meanings, though – what you hear is mostly what you’ll get. That’s a tad disappointing for a band with as much talent and pent up disdain as White Ring, because they seem to be capable of crafting something even deeper; darker. This record is very Crystal Castles of them, which is altogether a compliment and a criticism. It’s witch-house pop. You’ll find plenty to enjoy here undoubtedly, but there is still unrealized potential within White Ring’s arsenal waiting to be discovered. Once they find it and those stars align, they have it in them to make something truly terrifying.




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Comments:Add a Comment 
SowingSeason
Moderator
July 27th 2018


31084 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Not quite what I'd hoped but still pretty great. I'd recommend checking out the embedded song and going from there.

Digging: Bad Books - III

Taxt
July 29th 2018


1305 Comments


Nice review, I've been anticipating this one since you featured a song in the blog. Gonna check soon for sure.

SowingSeason
Moderator
July 29th 2018


31084 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Cool to see some interest. It's a pretty good album, just not quite what I'd thought it could be. Most people will enjoy this I think.

DrGonzo1937
Staff Reviewer
July 31st 2018


15357 Comments


this sounds like something I'd dig.

SowingSeason
Moderator
July 31st 2018


31084 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

yeah man, you might like...this album has huge crystal castles vibes

thinking of bumping to a 4 because the album's mid-section is incredible

supremejelly
August 1st 2018


1080 Comments


Nice review! I know NIN weren't the first to use bass in their song, but I thought I was listening to a cover of 'Closer' when 'Nothing' came on.

Digging: Johnny Booth - Firsthand Accounts

SowingSeason
Moderator
August 2nd 2018


31084 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Exactly! I hate it as much as anyone when people here a deep groove bass and scream NIN, but here the comparison is apt. Still, they're much more Crystal Castles than Reznor - although the industrial elements are indeed there.

Taxt
August 2nd 2018


1305 Comments


This is solid, some great tracks here

xAshtrayux
August 6th 2018


235 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Never thought they would release a new album. I enjoyed their previous work.

I really need more CC style music in my life.

Now if only CRIM3S released a new record...

emmny
August 6th 2018


40 Comments


this is fucking dystopian LMAO i realized it was THAT white ring and war flashbacks from 2011 came. I'll give this a listen for shits n giggles

xAshtrayux
August 6th 2018


235 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Angels is amazing, an example of everything that I love in the genre.

So ethereal, beautiful and haunting

SowingSeason
Moderator
November 2nd 2018


31084 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I need to revisit this. I want to see how it held up over time. Definitely not as good start-to-finish as the singles suggested it might be, but there are certainly moments here that blow me away.



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