MetalBite Review by Chris Pratl on 4/2/2019 9:10:28 PM
I’ve often heard Black September’s vocalist Jen Pickett compared to that same woman that shall remain nameless, but in my opinion ruined Arch Enemy, and that’s only because they both sing in the typical growling death metal style. Trust me, that is exactly where the comparison stops.
Black September’s The Forbidden Gates Beyond is a true testimony to what real death metal should encapsulate, never mind female-fronted death metal. I won’t denigrate Pickett in any way to simply point out her being a woman as a sacred parcel for the band. She stands aside any modern male growler with the best of them, toe to toe, and where the Arch Enemy vocalist growls with a certain precision while shaking her backside in too-tight leather pants for a gathering of horny metalheads it’s vocalists like Pickett that destroy on talent alone. The deadly combination of blind anger and fused brutality make for a potent piece of repugnance in this album.
The familiarity of the death metal guitar tone is the driving force behind these small forays into brutality. From the speedy beating you get with “The Forbidden Gates Beyond” to the atmospheric/death entry of “Tyrants” there is a hellish quality to the music that seems to plod along like an F-5 tornado at the most jagged of paces, picking up varying objects of weighty matter and sending them flying miles into the blackened sky. That’s exactly what I feel when listening to parts of this album; it’s like a raging storm that seems to pick up steam as it goes along. If an album can hammer itself into your head and stomach like that, it’s worth a few repeated listens.
Pickett’s vocal is a seemingly effortless entry, calling upon the most horrific of visuals when she belts out the verses as though they were backward bible verse, strength for strength and without merciful bandying. After the fraying beginning of “Tombs” sets the scene for the evillest of surroundings, she comes in once more shredding the minions to tiny bits throughout one of the best death metal tracks I’ve managed to hear in some weeks. The easy manageability of the music shows a severe subservience to integrity and a shunning of this sweeping flaccidity that finds its way into every metal movement that begins with the best of intentions. Without devaluing the black/death movements, Black September ensures that every basic homage is covered without the deranged obliviousness many bands get lost in when trying to find the latest wagon to hitch on to for fun.
I have found this album to be a sinister merging of crusty death and black metal that leads us all into temptation with a polished resonance that is some of the finer elements of the movement out there right now. With some EP’s and this full-length making noise in the underground I’d suggest you seek them out and allow yourself to be persuaded south.
Rating: 9 out of 10
(Originally written for www.metalpsalter.com)