Every once in awhile, I get the desire to snag a proto-metal release. And no, I don’t mean another Mercyful Fate worship record. OK, so there’s a little of that here, but this is something a touch older. While not quite the same as Death Alley‘s fantastic 2015 release, Black Magic Boogieland, Mausoleum Gate‘s newest record does share a few influences. While Death Alley sticks with the upbeat rock ‘n’ roll of Motörhead, Captain Beyond, and Blue Öyster Cult, Finland’s Mausoleum Gate goes for dark, jamming, progressive song structures, with a fuck-ton of organs. Like, Deep Purple levels of organ. And this is where, I suspect, readers will be split. If you aren’t the type to buy an original print of Machine Head (even if it’s fifty cents), Into a Dark Divinity ain’t for you. But, old-timers looking for an interesting combination of BÖC and Purple, with hints of Angel Witch, should read on.

If you are neither of the two groups mentioned above, but are, in fact, a fan of the band, I guarantee you dug their self-titled debut. It roams along the perimeter roads of Deep Purple and Mercyful Fate then covers everything between. Songs like “Magic of the Gypsy Queen” and “There Must Be Demons” are downright hooking and the epic, eleven-and-a-half minute “Mausoleum Gate” might be their best. All have their originality and the right amount of old-school nostalgia. So much so that, before I knew it, I was dropping seven Euros—despite that horrendous artwork. Unfortunately, for Into a Dark Divinity, this means there’s something to live up to.

And, just moments into opener “Condemned to Darkness,” Its already lost me. Sure, those soothing vocals, gentle guitar leads, and the Sabbath/Angel Witch-like mood have a lot going for it. But this nine-and-a-half-minute piece falls flat, especially in comparison to massive achievements of “Mausoleum Gate.” For better or worse, this isn’t the end of the lengthy pieces. Unlike Mausoleum Gate, Into a Dark Divinity has two other ten-minute pieces trying to dethrone the band’s self-titled epic. “Apophis” is up next. Still not quite at the level I was hoping, but the dark Mercyful Fate introduction sets a sinister tone. The doomy, drawn-out vocal approach is the same used by the opener, but the ascensions and descensions of its eleven-minute length work better. The chorus is more engaging and the finale is one helluva good time. It’s got over-the-top keys, a solid MF riff, and an explosion of drums, guitars, vocals, and organs to finish it off.

Despite the epic build and explosion of “Apophis,” the title track is the epic piece the album has been longing for. After opening with a beautiful, almost Eagles-like acoustic lick, the vocals arrive much as they did on “Condemned” and “Apophis.” This time, though, they have more command and power. And here is where the builds begin. First, the keys set it up. Then there’s piano, then melodic licks, and finally alternating guitar and key solos. And when you think it’s all over, it builds and builds even more. Once the growing instrumentation and keyboard atmospheres climax, the explosion reduces the song back into a soothing acoustic guitar outro. The band pours every ounce of their being into this one and it pays off.

Scattered between these three lengthy tracks are three others—ranging from three-to-four minutes in length. But two of them (“Burn the Witches at Dawn” and “Horns”) might as well be the same song. Both are cut from the same cloth and have identical roles: to put some umph back into the record after “Condemned to Darkness” and solid “Solomon’s Key,” respectively.  Neither are bad, but their short, simple approaches make them surprisingly forgettable. Especially “Burn the Witches at Dawn.” Its chorus may be catchy, but it’s placement between “Condemned” and “Apophis” makes it an apparition that flies by at 100 mph.

After all that, Mausoleum Gate is superior to Into a Dark Divinity. The lengthier tracks use a combination of clean and distorted guitars, soaring vocals, and key-driven atmospheres to produce layers upon layers of ’70s rock. But three on one record is too much. I suppose the positive of this is that lovers of all those keys and organ oughta get their fill. But, if you hate that old-school keyboard blare, there’s not much I can do to convince you to give Into a Dark Divinity a try. At least the dynamics are there and every one of those layers is crystal clear. But, Into a Dark Divinity ain’t for everyone. I suppose all those old-timers out there might get a kick out of Mausoleum Gate‘s nostalgiacore.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 9 | Format Reviewed: 128 kbps mp3
Label: Cruz del Sur Music
Websites: mausoleumgatemetal.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/mausoleumgate
Releases Worldwide: September 8th, 2017

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  • AlphaBetaFoxface

    I feel sorry for the guy on the left. I have no intention on reading this review, just commenting to say that. Great write-up (probably).

    • André Snyde Lopes

      > Cirith Ungol t-shirt
      > wrinkled button shirt
      > popped up collar
      > neckbeard
      > fedora


      • basenjibrian

        The very definition of “metal”.

        In all honesty, as a geezer, I just don’t understand kids these days. When has a neckbeard ever been attractive or even clean looking?

        And the man bun. Leave it to millennials to invent a hairstyle worse than the old hippy pony tail!

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        If this was a game of “One of these things is not like the others” I would go with the Cirith Ungol T-shirt. Out of that list it’s the only thing I would wear. And I would wear it proudly.

    • Baltech

      He kinda looks like some random dude who wandered into the shot and was forgotten to be cropped out…

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        In fact it looks more like he wasn’t actually there and was edited in.

    • Mollusc

      Is it because he is you and you he?

    • The Akerstache


    • jersey devil

      dont make fun of people for no reason.

  • Master of Muppets

    Instant 1.5 deduction for not being my most recent review (I can’t have listened to power metal for nothing, I just can’t!)
    Instant 1.5 promotion for not being my most recent review (I can’t smith words on this level, I just can’t!)
    Instant 2 point deduction for so many smiles in one band photo.
    Instant 1 point promotion for referencing Captain Beyond.
    Modified score: irrelevant, Muppet lives don’t matter.

    • Quiet, you!

      • Master of Muppets

        Help, help! I’m being repressed!

        • Nukenado

          Wait till he represses you with more horrpr tham proto metal…
          (Hey, cheesy organs are krieg:( )

          • Master of Muppets

            Apparently the next one I have assigned to me is “special” and warranted a most sinister prolonged villain laugh from The One They Call Steel, so you may be on to something.
            My theory: it’s another album by the same band as the review I’m whining about, and I’m wandering into a hateful loop of being subjected to power metal and forced to write about it but never having it published. I’ve finally died and gone to Hell.

          • Nukenado

            If there’s a power metal band that Steel doesn’t like… you’ll be in for a treat.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      Deduction for Captain Beyond??? How dare you…

      • Master of Muppets

        I don’t, which is why I didn’t.

  • Choodi

    Is it that hard to find somone who can take a decent photo? Fuck that is awful…

    • They have a few decent band pictures to be fair, but posting bad ones gets you comments, I guess. So yeah.

      • Dr. A.N. Grier

        That’s the one they sent me in the promo package. So, that’s they one I posted.

  • Baltech

    You had me at “DP levels of organ”. And a cursory listen shows that this is exactly my jam. I’m just a sucker for Purplish, Heepian Guitar/Hammond combos. But the vocals… well, they’re ok in the quieter parts but whenever that dude tries to soar, it falls apart.

  • Fair score. That said though, ain’t nobody gonna say anything about that album cover? It’s fantastic. Their previous ones are also simply just phenomenal. Too bad the music isn’t my cup of tea.

  • ronin1572

    it sounds like if Spinal Tap joined forces with Jethro Tull to form Mercyful Fate back in the early 80s.

  • doom-erik

    Get a lot of Magnum and Demon-vibes

  • Thatguy

    Awful artwork, a fake band photo (these are just random dudes picked off the street surely), ditty acoustic guitar and wavering voice. This old timer is not impressed, Doc.

    • jersey devil

      what a lame comment

  • Lithophyte

    Purple were my first band, so the bar is high. Take away the Hammondy organ and it’s not that Purple. The delivery is almost pre-Purple, with a stop-start approach to the music, like Iron Butterfly and contemporary bands. None of the fluency of post 1970 Purple or BOC. The lead and vocal harmonies are God-awful, the music is better when the singing stops. Barely a 2.0 for me – will check out their first album

  • jersey devil

    I never saw so many stupid, useless, and mean-spirited comments at AMG. People moaning about the band photo and how badly dressed they are! Who fucking cares. And why make fun of people you don’t know? Lame. If you really want well dressed bands and slick promo photos go listen to top 40. For heaven’s sake.