Gateway to Selfdestruction look at value of existence on fiery debut ‘Death, My Salvation’

The current state of America probably has people here wondering if they want to live or die. That’s an unnecessary way of thinking about things, sexist orange game show hosts running the country or not, but deciding whether it’s worth going forward surely went through some people’s minds. It’s not so far-fetched as to be unbelievable.

German black metal band Gateway to Selfdestruction probably laugh at such situations and the way some teeter off the emotional cliff over things such as politics. On their raw, thunderous debut record “Death, My Salvation,” the band spends eight songs walking the line between life and death and whether survival is something to be relished. As a regular event, not after some giant event that leaves disappointment. The music is oddly melodic and surging for work that carves so dangerously at the psyche, but buried within that are vocals that deliver utter turmoil and heaviness that bring black feelings and sorrow. The group—vocalist Mara, guitarists Mortem and Abryss, bassist Chual, drummer R.K.—set up shop with producer Patrick W. Engel to create a record that’s packed with old death-doom, charring black metal, and even some atmosphere that allows in some much-needed air when you feel like you’re suffocating for real.

gateway-cover_300dpi_cmyk“The Blessing” opens the record with fully bleeding riffs, Mara’s harsh wails that pierce your ear drums, and a wall of strong melodies, which is a recurring element on this record. As we move, the music rushes down, and the vocals wrench like a vice. Mournful playing and dreary, fading final moments rush into “Black Quiet Death,” where clean guitars bubble initially before the thing is ripped apart. The singing brings torment, as Mara wrings emotion from every word, while an oppressive fog slips in before surging heavily toward the gates. “Destroyed Self” unloads black riffs and charred passages, and the creaking vocals whip into insanely catchy melodies, sweeping you into the fury. Static crackles and rises, only to be met with glorious guitar work, a serene passage the cuts through, and the song gushing to the end. “Reset” lets guitars burn, as Mara wails, “Follow me to the end of the night!” The track pours emotion, with dizzying playing altering your mind, wild cries blistering, and the band doing ultimate damage delivered via steamroller.

“Silence” has driving playing, a singular guitar that echoes alone, and a pace that starts driving slowly. From out of that comes maniacal howls from Mara, as she blasts, “It was the end of our life,” and the song then slips into ghostly, gothic territory that washes out in feedback. “Soziopath” has razor-sharp riffs that thrash the flesh, and Mara’s throat-mangling growls pelt you in the center of the chest. The pace then turns eerie and horrific, as the guitars develop thick ice that hold steady over the final minutes of the song. But just before it buries itself, the guitars fire up, and a massive assault drops its ton of bricks. “Rigidity” again has Mara on the hunt, stomping and crunching, while the band lets fluid guitars cascade, leads swell, and the rhythms knock you back and forth. Clean warbling comes out of that, and the final moments are downright haunting. Closer “Mirrors of Despair” is a short, foggy ending, as acoustics blend in, meeting up with crazed wails and reverberations, and the last moments of the song float out like a ghost, leaving behind no trace.

Gateway to Selfdestruction’s first record certainly will chew away at your nerve endings and force you to take the same journey where you evaluate the worth of pushing forward and extending existence. “Death, My Salvation” may not always feel as dark and foreboding as it is on the surface, but digging beneath the skin into the blood and veins exposes this album’s true intent. Spending your dark hours with this thing may not mean life or death for you, but it should challenge you to evaluate what circumstances around you mean and whether they’re worth it in the first place.

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