Twelfth Gate
Threshold of Revelation

When a band compares itself to the likes of Nevermore, Symphony X, Iced Earth and Iron Maiden (especially Nevermore), I tend to get somewhat interested (to the point where the expectations rise up quite dramatically). And such is the case with Chicago’s Twelfth Gate who continue their metallic deeds on “Threshold of Revelation”.Did I get the aforementioned bands? Not really, but I can see why those names are thrown around. Perhaps I’d change Iron Maiden with Jag Panzer though, as this album is no doubt more American. The basis is definitely on the hammering riffs and aggression of music. There’s a very light progressive touch that tends to come to front in the more melodic segments that balance the package. While the riffs aren’t the duelling sort, I quite like the more aggressive touch than what’s often heard on U.S based ‘power metal’ bands. While the guitars do shred and shed some nice tricks and solos, they might a bit more restrained than they probably should, especially when the bass and drums are already offering quite a pummelling backbone.

It seems that the singer Scott Huffman left after the recording of the album. The band’s fans might be somewhat shocked, but personally I think that the vocal department is where the band is the most lacking. Not because Huffman is a bad vocalist, on the contrary, to me he just doesn’t seem to fit the bill as his style just doesn’t seem to permit the violence and grit required by the music. This becomes evident when the music has a more traditional tone going on as Scott sounds excellent with his strong, carrying and powerful voice. But when things get rough, they tend to sound more glued and forced. In a way, it appears as if the band had a lot of trouble figuring out decent vocal melodies, as some of the lines and passages just sound a bit too clumsy and distracted from the music. I cannot but wonder whether or not the plans to leave the band also took a toll on the overall performance.

This album leaves me somewhat reserved. To be honest, at its current state it’s not the next big thing. The compositions definitely could use a few more hooks, layers and even wider attention to detail (while keeping the mantra “Less might be more” in mind). Despite the variety of the songs (and variety within the songs), it still feels a bit too safe, simple and straightforward; kind of like it’s all crammed into this tight package that doesn’t utilize the space to a full effect. On the other hand, it would be quite an interesting to hear these songs with another vocalist, as I do believe to some extend that it’s that marriage heard on this album that’s causing the biggest contrasts and gripes. It takes power away from the music.

Production sounds heavy, but in the end I think it might have done with a bit more clarity. Now it appears to be a bit like “heavy for heaviness sake” and unfortunately, to my rotting ears, it tends to get a bit too muddy at times. As said previously, it seems crammed and I tend to believe that’s the case as when the band slows down for a moment to build an atmosphere, and blasting has paused, the production gives the different elements more air to breath.

In the end, however, it’s undeniable that the guys are onto something. They do seem to have the tools and skills required for an album that could spark more enthusiasm. While the whole “we wanted it raw and live”-thing seems to be the current trend in the music biz at the moment, I do hope that the band will take their time with the next output to carve an album that is not only rich, but well thought. Threshold of Revelation shows that Twelfth Gate is a band with a lot of potential. Whether it’ll stay like that remains to be seen. Even with its shortcomings, fans of the genre should at least check the band out. For the rest; good – not great ‘ expecting better.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Mikko K.
May 17th, 2006

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