Belgian death-doom behemoth Gateway brings cavernous pain, misery with ‘Scriptures of Grief’

gatewayI have this weird fear of being trapped inside a cave or a cavern or some sort of dark, damp place where I might never get out. I’ve been inviting cave exploring before, and I have steadfastly refused to go, because I just know I’ll get caught inside a narrow tunnel, hopelessly stuck, and suffocate and die.

This all comes from me reflecting on “Scriptures of Grief,” the second effort from one-man Belgian doom monster Gateway, a smothering collection that feels like it’s weighing down on your chest. It’s so heavy and oppressive, it makes me think of being trapped in one of those narrow passageways inside a mysterious cave where, if you can’t dislodge yourself, you’re done. The three massive cuts that, combined, run nearly 30 minutes, completely clobber you and compromise your breathing. Each song put together by sole member Robin Van Oyen feels like a monstrous assault, one that creeps inside of you and slowly expands inside your veins. Originally released last year independently, Sentient Ruin is getting behind this bastard and releasing it on cassette and digital formats, pushing it to a broader underground audience. This record, a follow-up to Gateway’s self-titled debut effort (released by Hellthrasher), is a great, hefty serving of death-doom that is as heavy and oppressive at it comes.

Opener “I” is a real mammoth, 12:24 of smudging chaos, weird noises, and pained moans, which lead into slow-driving, massive doom that practically causes blood to bubble through the Earth’s surface. While the tempo crushes, the vocals get a little grimy, as the song unleashes a hellish furnace blast that’s impossible to confront face to face. The song trudges and stomps over the bodies it accumulated, with grisly pools of mud catching your boots, and torturous wails spreading over the song’s finish.

“II” lets fuzz push in, as the track rumbles as heavily as what preceded it, with monstrous growling and guttural scraping bruising your skin. Death grunts pelt at your flesh, while the song heads into pure ugliness, a section that has ill will and violence in mind that brings with it danger and snarling doom. All of this spills into the closing cut “III,” where a slow-moving menace rears its head, the vocals gurgle blood, and the pace starts to kick into a higher gear. Punishing soot and teeth-mashing playing push the song ahead, while the heat that comes off the thing will leave you gasping for breath and just a drop of cool air. The track then simmers in its own filth, with the song laying waste to your muscles and bones, and everything fading out in a scathing, corrosive noise bath.

Gateway might not actually suffocate you or trap you inside of a dark cavern, but you will have to battle against their will and might on “Scriptures of Grief.” This is sooty, unpolished, savage music that feels like it could pound its way through your skull and turn it into a pile of dust. This record puts the most guttural doom and filthiest death to the test, and the fact more people can hear this is a good thing that will compromise added folks’ senses of hearing.

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