Gatekeeper - East Of Sun

Gatekeeper - East Of Sun

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(CD, Cruz Del Sur Music, 2018)

It is painful to realize again and again that it is impossible to be up-to-date with the new releases in Metal nowadays. The simple days of passing by your favorite record store to see what is new this month is a constantly fading away memory and has been already replaced by the digital platform. So, one has to rely on his gut and try a new band based on a short snippet, or in this case, on the album’s cover artwork. Yeah, I was drawn to “East Of Sun” the moment I caught a glimpse of the Epic cover artwork with the almost Moorcock aesthetics, and once I saw this was a Cruz Del Sur Music release, the GATEKEEPER’s debut LP become a must-check album.

A short online search let me know that GATEKEEPER hail from Canada and count almost a decade of existence with a handful of EPs and splits under their belt. What the online search did not inform me about was the jaw-dropping album opener “Blade Of Cimmeria”. First of all, kudos for the Robert E. Howard nod (a.ka. the Conan creator), and then a loud “hell yeah” for the riff assault which can be easily mistaken as a fine example of US Power Metal with a strong JAG PANZER flavor. If you dig deeper, you may even find some RUNNING WILD in the guitar riffs, although the tempo is rather fast to let it shine. No matter the resemblances, this is an absolutely killer album opener and will get you into headbanging, skipping the warming up period. The epic aspect on GATEKEEPER’s music steps into the spotlight with the slower “North Wolves” where Jean-Pierre’s vocals fit like a tailored suit. One could add ATLANTEAN KODEX as another point of reference and you can even go towards CIRITH UNGOL to find your bearing with the Canadians. Either way, the album is a bone-crusher with lots of chanting along parts and fist-pumping moments as in “Warrior Without Fear” or in the amazing “Bell Of Tarantia” (oh my, those Conan references keep coming) where the vocals go US Power Metal all the way, backed up by the solid guitar playing. The icing on the cake is the most fitting sound production that captures a live feeling, leaving behind all the super-compressed mixes where the instruments and vocals fight for their life upon the altar of digital processing. Note how the guitars change leading roles with the occasionally whaling vocals on “Oncoming Ice” and how the mood gets darker (this is borderline Doom Metal) under the clean guitar arpeggios and the lower pitch singing. This one brought MANILLA ROAD taste in my mouth, and if you add the other bands I have already mentioned, you should understand how the overall rating is already high.

I love it when an album comes and hits me out of the blue, like “East Of Sun” did. This album does not sound like the average debut release as it is full of confidence without any second-guessing of the music style. This is absolutely recommended to those who like the mid-tempo epic albums which love to draw influences from the old-school US Power Metal sound.





01. Blade Of Cimmeria
02. North Wolves
03. Warrior Without Fear
04. Ninefold Muse
05. Bell Of Tarantia
06. East Of Sun
07. Swan Road Saga
08. Oncoming Ice


Geoff Blackwell - Guitar
David Messier - Bass
Tommy Tro - Drums
Jean-Pierre Abboud - Vocals
Kenny Kroecher - Guitar