Written by: MST on 04/10/2013 17:09:33

Lychgate was formed all the way back in 2001 under the name Archaicus. Back then it was a one-man black metal project by a British man known as Vortigern who released two demos in 2003 and 2004. This year Vortigern returned after a 9-year break with a new name for his band and three additional members. Lychgate's self-titled debut is a progressive black metal album, and with musicians such as Thomas "T. J. F." Vallely from Omega Centauri, Benjamin "Aran" König from Lunar Aurora and last but not least Greg Chandler from the British funeral doom metal band Esoteric, it could almost be considered a supergroup.

Vortigern plays all the guitars and keyboards in Lychgate, but although Chandler only handles vocal duties in the band, you wouldn't be too far off comparing the band's sound to Esoteric. The keyboard-heavy soundscape is ever-changing, yet all the way through the album, from slow, brooding sections in songs like "Dust Of A Gun Barrel" to the intense sections of blasting drums and razer riffs scattered across the album, the main atmosphere and feeling is the same: majestic and imposing, yet highly mysterious. Vortigern's compositions of riffs, keyboards and choirs with Vallely's amazing drum work make for interesting compositions, and Chandler's amazing vocal work naturally only enhance the soundscape.

"Lychgate" is the kind of album that will instantly impress; the first impression is enormous. Certain songs immediately grab the listener's attention, such as "In Self Ruin" with its huge intensity levels and recurring combinations of riffs and vocals that get stuck in your head, as well as album highlight "Sceptre To Control The World" which is very melodic in the first half and then destroys absolutely everything in the second half with an oppressive combination of two and a half minutes of blastbeats and Vortigern's imposing riffs and keyboards with Chandler's vocals curating the ordeal on top. It's not the kind of album that needs many listens to properly open up - it's almost the opposite. After many listens is becomes clear that between the many moments of brilliance there are quite a few mediocre sections which lead nowhere, and in the long run those get a little tiresome.

Fans of progressive extreme metal will find many things to be excited about in Lychgate's debut album. During the surprisingly short album, clocking in at 38 minutes, Vortigern and his band of seasoned musicians present a wealth of brilliant compositions. But there are times when those 38 minutes feel like a lot more when Lychgate are meandering on for some time before finding their way back to what makes this self-titled debut album good. I have high hopes for Lychgate's future releases though as there is definitely plenty of promise here.

Download: Against The Paradoxical Guild, In Self Ruin, Sceptre To Control The World, Triumphalism
For The Fans Of: Esoteric, (old) Opeth, Emperor
Listen: Bandcamp

Release date: 29.04.2013

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