Canadian power Gatekeeper jolt with epic metallic energy, glory on daring ‘From Western Shores’

There are plenty of elements in heavy metal that can get your excitement levels going, the forces that cause one to grasp the invisible oranges at a live show and let yourself get lost in the spirit. That can be something different for everyone, as it really depends on how the energy strikes you and where it takes you mentally. For me, epic power metal, when done right, nails me every time.

Canadian power Gatekeeper is a band that always finds a way to get the adrenaline flowing, and their new, second record “From Western Shores” is a huge, surging album that will make you want to take to the streets to defend the glory of metal. Or something like that. The band—vocalist Tyler “Tex” Anderson, guitarists Adam Bergen (leads) and Jeff Black (rhythm), bassist David Messier, drummer Tommy Tro—delivers tons of massive moments on here over eight tracks and 49 minutes, and it’s just like a classic metal record from decades ago when Maiden, Priest, and Helloween were blazing trails. Gatekeeper is here to continue that mission, which they do with blazing colors.

The title track opens and immediately fires up, Anderson calling, “Into the unknown we sail for glory, to the old gods we hail for honor,” the blood absolutely surging. The chorus is a barnstormer with power soaring and blazing fires as it rambles away. “Death on Black Wings” brings charging guitars and piercing screams, layering with a heavy ’80s power metal feel. The vocals wail as the leads spill lava, unloading and taking great command, ending with raucous chaos. “Shadow and Stone” feels more even tempered as it starts, the vocals are massive, and the pace trudges before bursting with colors. The track takes on more of an epic feel, a storyteller that gets nudges with group chants, wild wails, and the playing spiraling away. “Exiled King” is about Harald Hardrada, the last Viking king of Norway, and it opens with rustic guitars before the drums rupture, and the thunder cracks in the sky. “They shall weep at my arrival, splitting skulls of every rival,” Anderson calls as things go cold and ominous, making your flesh crawl. The tempo picks up, the chorus melts through you, and everything disappears into the fog.

“Nomads” is punchy, Anderson commanding, “Ride til the end to unchartered lands,” as the energy beams off of that. Drums splatter as some gothy undertones leak, warmer guitars thaw the land, and everything rains down and brings a flood of emotions. “Twisted Towers” is the most different of all the songs on here, the drums rousing and the riffs cutting through the senses. The chorus is infectious and gets into your brain, the leads light up, and a massive finish leaves you heaving behind. “Desert Winds” starts with acoustics before thing electrify quickly, grittier singing adding a film of dirt. Guitars turn moodier, Anderson calls, “On desert winds, we ride tonight,” as the playing spirals, the chorus tearing through to the heart. Closer “Keepers of the Gate” feels like a band anthem, running 8:28 and going wild, the declaration of, “We, the keepers of the gate, guardians of steel,” jostling emotions. The pace jolts as the bass playing quivers, guitars layering with glory, mists bleeding in and obscuring. Group singing rouses, giving the track a massive feel that explodes into a smoking finish.

Gatekeeper have a stranglehold on epic power metal with “From Western Shores,” their excellent second album. They have a way of helping you get lost in their music, the adventure driving your heart rate and imagination at the same time. This is top-shelf heavy metal packed with history and explosive energy, and it can align fans who have been here for decades with ones just getting their education now.

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