This year, in an attempt to cover more music that would all-too-oft slip through the very large cracks, we're trying something new and novel around these parts. Namely, we're gonna actually publish the little one-off reviews that were previously (and arbitrarily) deemed too short for publication. In that spirit, here's a mini-review of an EP from 2020.
Written by: Blackie Skulless
Anything that calls itself “black ‘n roll” is going to have my attention immediately. A recent spike in blackened traditional metal that seems to stick with the NWOBHM riffs under a harsh and dark haze offers all sorts of interesting ideas. But New Jersey’s The Gauntlet rides almost entirely on slower, steady riffing that hooks the ear every time. War And Guilt is their sole release (outside of some splits), a twenty-two minute EP from 2020 with solid proportions.
Looking at the art work, you would never expect this, as I didn’t. Something that screams generic party thrash turning out to actually be music this compelling caught me off guard. In a way, the entire tape works as one massive song, in the sense that each of the five tracks weave into each other, using the same trick for every execution. Shifts in speed and tone help break this up some. Small licks like the bridge in “Damnation Calls With Haste” certainly add some life before the solo and resolution, and those rumbling drums under the bass in “Old Lord” will shake your insides.
War And Guilt displays a pretty impressive ear for gradual layering across the board. The harsh, stagnant shrieks somewhat mask the tweaks in patterns, allowing haunting, Bathory-like rhythms to make their way in. As you can imagine, it does feel a bit same-y at times due to the fact that it’s mostly a one trick pony. Don’t go into this expecting the tag to be too literal, The Gauntlet isn’t going to be Van Halen or Blue Oyster Cult under shrieking vocals. But for what we’re given, it scratches the itch every time.
The Gauntlet -War and Guilt was released August 26th, 2020. Find it here!
The Gauntlet can be found:
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that wakes us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry.