|Musical Style: Stoner/Doom Metal||Produced By: Mick Rowe|
|Record Label: The Music Cartel||Country Of Origin: USA|
|Year Released: 2001||Artist Website:|
|Tracks: 8||Rating: 80%|
|Running Time: 34:38|
Mick (Goliath) Rowe and his brother Jamie initially formed the melodic metal band Tempest and released two infamous albums - A Coming Storm and Eye Of The Storm - on the defunct Pure Metal label in the late eighties. While Jamie went on to greater fame and acclaim as the front man of Guardian, the 6' 4" Mick released two albums with Midnight Orchestra before returning with a new band aptly called Goliath. Whereas Tempest gravitates towards the fluffy commercial hair metal of the eighties, Goliath flexes its muscles and comes across about as subtle as a punch in the mouth. Its 2001 full length debut The Gate combines massive doom-like riffs and a heavy groove feel with a down tuned low end heaviness that cannot help but remind you of Black Sabbath. If the likes of Danzig, Rose and Place Of Skulls happen to be your cup of tea, then I cannot help but give Goliath a strong recommendation.
Mick, for a lack of better words, is a monster on rhythm guitar, adorning the album with huge riffs of a monumental capacity that bring to mind Jimmy Brown (Deliverance) at his very best. And I love the way his gruff and guttural lead vocal style stands in perfect complement to the dark and heavy feel to the music here. Wil D. Kay (is this the guys REAL name?) and Michael X form a rhythm section characterized by muscular bass lines and a powerful drum sound. The only weakness in Goliath's performance, on the other hand, is the lack of confidence it displays in its instrumental sound. For example, several tracks fail to include an instrumental passage while others are held back by lead guitar work that is of the restrained variety. I cannot help but think the albums the top notch material would have come across even better if backed by some fiery guitar leads. That being said, the music on The Gate is of very high quality in that each of its eight tracks holds up under repeated play with noteworthy melodies that pull you in on first listen.
Production values are quite laudable in allowing for a prevailing rhythm guitar sound that is mixed to near perfection. While a bit of muddiness prevents the drums from always standing out in the mix, the bass comes across full and heavy.
It is worth pointing out that between many of the albums tracks a voice of a preacher can be heard delivering a sermon-like message relevant to the lyrics of the song that follows.
Getting the album underway to a slowly played guitar line, "Hurricane" takes off to a throaty growl from Mick before a massive slab of guitar driven energy impels it to a chorus with a catchy refuse to go away hook. I wish the band had expanded upon an instrumental passage limited to a few brief seconds of rhythm guitar.
After the albums title track begins slowly, a doom-like riff fades in and conveys it at a mid-tempo pace to a fleeting chorus resonating a portentous feel. The doomy atmosphere is enhanced as the song breaks for several seconds of biting lead guitar work. "The Gate" talks about making the correct eternal decision:
Living life until the end
Caring not about sin
Who will pay the price when you fall?
The choice is yours, it's yours to make
Before ya pass through the gate...
Advancing through its first and second verse in an overpowering fashion to a driving guitar riff, "I Am" culminates as it gains momentum for a hard hitting chorus carried by Mick's guttural vocal delivery. The only drawback to the song comes in the form of an instrumental passage featuring only a couple of seconds of rhythm guitar. "I Am" validates the finished work of Christ on the cross:
Hangin' on a cross
We have put Him there...
He had to die to save us
Save us from ourselves
I am hanging here for you
I am the only Way
I gave my life up for you
Take my blood today
I am the Way and the Truth and the only Life
Guitarist Keri Kelli (Slash's Snakepit) makes a guest appearance on "Demons". The guitar feedback at the start of the song gives way to a slowly moving riff backed by pounding drums. While the rhythm guitar takes a backseat in the mix as the song reaches its first verse, it returns in a not so subtle manner to buttress a groove flavored chorus underscored by a punchy bass line. The only factor detracting from the song is an instrumental passage featuring only a few brief seconds of rhythm guitar. "Demons" is aptly named:
Demons all around me
Who can set me free?
The day will come
when demons know their place
He'll wipe that evil smirk
off their face
Subsequent to "Welcome To My Nightmare" kicking in at an upbeat tempo, a catchy riff evenly propels it to a chorus giving rise to a shadowy ambience. A hard and heavy rhythm guitar sound underlined by a child's voice in the background drives the song over its last minute and a half.
The edgy groove-flavored riff jump starting the superb "Can't Fight" drives the it ahead with an abundance of energy, just a touch of whispered vocal harmonies entering the mix in time to bolster an infectious non-stop hook filled chorus. The only complaint is that at just over three minutes the song is a bit on the short side.
"The Dark One" opens to a slow and driving mix of rhythm guitar underlined by a whispered voice stating "How does it feel?". After the whispered voice continues to accentuate the song during its first verse, the pace picks up as it attains a chorus progressing in a dark and almost heavy handed manner. Once again, at only three minutes the song is a bit short. The message to "The Dark One" comes across in the form of a warning:
Are you afraid of the dark one?
Are you lost inside?
Are you afraid of the dark one?
Now you know he lied
How does it feel when you are taking his mark?
How does it feel when you choose that dark?
A melancholy down tuned rhythm guitar accentuated by distorted vocal effects introduces "Dear Aleister, the inauspicious atmosphere maintained as the song slowly moves ahead until it peaks for a plodding chorus with a near doom-like feel. A lengthy instrumental passage at the end of the song showcasing some of the albums best lead guitar work helps carry it out to nearly five minutes.
The Gate proves a solid effort from front to back in showcasing eight strong tracks that each hold up under continuous play. On the other hand, the album is a bit short in coming in at just under thirty-five minutes- part of the problem residing in the lack of confidence the band displays in its instrumental sound. If Mick and company could have brought in a lead guitarist to lay down some fiery leads then this would have been a killer album. Otherwise, it is still very good and would prove a worthy addition to your collection.
Review by: Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: "Hurricane" (3:54), "The Gate" (5:25), "I Am" (3:38), "Demons" (5:29), "Welcome To My Nightmare" (3:42), "Can’t Fight" (3:44), "The Dark One" (3:08), "Dear Aleister" (4:52)
Mick Rowe – Lead Vocals & Guitars
Michael X – Bass
Wil D. Kay – Drums
Keri Kelli - Guitars