MOONGATES GUARDIAN "Eternal Legend"
A highly productive Russian Black Metal duo, Moongates Guardian has already released three full-length studio albums, and a great bunch of singles and EPs despite the band forming just about two years ago. Makes you think almost right away whether they put quantity over quality, right? Eternal Legend, as the title of the bands debut album goes, was originally released digitally by the band in May 2014. Later on, More Hate Productions took the opportunity to re-release it with three bonus tracks that appeared on the bands only digitally released single, Lament for Gandalf. Yes, this Russian duo is obsessed by The Lord of the Rings trilogy; so much so that they decided to make sort of a Black Metal-infested soundtrack out of the concept. In a way, they have managed to create a good, soundtrack-ish feel to their epic Black Metal, but then, on the other hand, you may easily also get a bit annoyed that there should be more music instead of all kinds of sampled elements being thrown around. To their credit, Skilar Blackwings (who has performed and sampled all the instruments on the album) has a very good vision of how to make a well-made, pompous and epic sounding soundtrack. He should perhaps use his skills for the movie industry as well, and become just sick-rich. Eternal Legend, representing an ambitious effort to create a Black Metal-flavored theme around The Lord of the Rings trilogy, is only a partly successful attempt at being an impressive record. It gives a good try at achieving some great things, but unfortunately never fully hits its goal perfectly, other than proving Skilars skills as a skilled soundtrack composer.
MOONGATES GUARDIAN "Let Horse Be Bridled, Horn Be Sounded!"
This is Russian duo from Kaliningrad/ Russia and this album is based on original poetry of J.R.R Tolkien. Also, the band used some movie fragments in songs from Peter Jacksons original trilogies if you like this kind of film-music connection. Alexey who is responsible for all vocals on the album tries to recite Tolkiens poetry sort of but I do not think it turned out that good. This type of literature needs specific set of skills, like declamation and just fluent English to fully enjoy magic of words. If you do not have it, you are going to trash poetry, likely. Except those spoken, unfortunate fragments, all Alexeys black metal vocals are much better performed to the music. This is epic, monumental metal album. Moongates Guardian, unlike other one or two man bands, chose a studio for recording this album and it pays off. All instrumental work has been done by one person with a name Skilar. Even, knowing that they did not work with real orchestra all songs sound like they do. Percussion and drums have that classical music feeling into it and orchestrations are as powerful as metal elements. I am under strong impression that so much goods songs like The Dragon Is Withered, The Wind Was On The Withered Heath, Tom Bombadil can be done so great by just two persons. The Lord Of The Rings cover of Blind Guardian even if sounds differently, it is pretty well done and fits to sound of this particular album. I would say that guitars are more melodic death metal but music altogether with symphonic/ classical elements is just epic and black metal which also are vocals. From start to the end it is easy to keep track to their music because they build up interest for you and to the band, through fantasy of songs and atmosphere. If I had a horn I would blow into it and tell you that this band will be a constant surprise in good meaning.
MOONGATES GUARDIAN "The Last Ship"
Although the Russian duet called Moongates Guardian exist since 2013 and has already released nine full length albums and many single, split and EP releases, i just got to know them with their eighth album called “The Last Ship”. It was released in the 1st of January of 2019 in digital and CD format by More Hate Productions and it contains eight tracks which last for about forty-four minutes. By listening to their music, someone could say that Moongates Guardian is a Summoning – clone band, doing exactly the same thing. Meaning, epic and atmospheric music with heavy use of keyboards and lyrics the poems of J. R. R. Tolkien. I can not disagree with that opinion as the band presents indeed a lot of similarities with the aforementioned band. That being said, we should distinguish the bands that are just coping another bands work with no artistic or music value, from those which embrace their influences, accept them and are trying to go a step further or just create something interesting and entertaining. In my opinion, Moongates Guardian falls under the second category. They are showing us their Summoning influences proudly and they create music that will design and present a very vivid, intense and interesting narrative into the imaginary world of Tolkien. The keyboard is the most important instrument here, as it sets the scenery and creates the atmosphere. The impressive fact of the keyboard lines is that they can animate and deliver the feelings and the thoughts of the protagonists and make the narrative vivid. The guitars are here, playing a supporting role most of the times, while there are some darker parts which take the lead. The folklore feeling is an indispensable element of the music which makes the images and the scenery more accurate and vivid. The tracks are not that long, they last from four to eight minutes, the speed of the songs is ranged between slow and medium, there are not so many changes during their development as the band wants to build a very epic and at the same time majestic atmosphere. That may sometimes give a mediocre result as in some parts the songs become quite repetitive and tedious. However, in general, the structure and the development of the story is good. Regarding the performance of the band, each one of its members is trying his best and present a very good result. The vocals are very versatile Black Metal vocals, they follow the feeling of the narrative so they become harsher in the parts where they describe the scenery and the development of the story, while in the dialog or in the parts that they want to give a more dark or vicious tone they become deeper and more theatrical. The instrumentalist is a very talented artist. The keyboards have very beautiful lines and are played accurately, making the images and the story come to life. The guitars are supporting the keyboards very nicely and along with the bass they are giving depth to the music and variety to the feelings. I do not know if the drums are real or by a drum machine, but they sound real. They have basic, supporting lines and they are stable and accurate. The lyrics are contained in the CD and they are written in English. As it is stated, they are the original poems written by Tolkien. As a fan of the music and aesthetics of Summoning, I have to admit that at first I was quite skeptical about Moongates Guardian. The similarities with the aforementioned band are more than obvious. However, if you give them the time and focus to understand them, you will find that they have merged their personality with their influences, producing a result that is not just a Summoning – clone. I can say that i enjoyed it and i think that all Summoning fans and the fans of atmospheric, majestic, epic Black Metal you will really appreciate this album.
MOONGATES GUARDIAN "Cold Waters of Anduin"
Moongates Guardian, the duo from Russia, a year after ‘The Last Ship’ which left me a good first impression, they return with their nineth full length album called ‘Cold Waters of Anduin’. It was released the 1st of January of 2020 in digital format independently and in cd format by More Hate Productions, the label that they have been working with and trust since their first full length. I received both albums at the same time, so I have listened their previous recently and I can say that this one is following the same path with some minor new additions. So, their love for medieval scenery, fantasy, Tolkien themes and Summoning worship are the elements that characterize this release too. The band, going from one album to the other, is like going to the next chapter of a book, devoted to the same style with minor changes or additions where the story needs to show something different. Their music is dominated by the atmosphere created by the keyboards, creating a majestic atmosphere, while their lines are melodic and influenced by folk and medieval music. I think that the band has used some new instrument sounds in this album such as the flute or an instrument that reminded me of zither, also I think that they have used various new sounds of percussion, making the music multidimensional. Another new element that you may notice is the use of clean, female vocals, mainly used in narrative parts of the compositions, this approach reminded me a lot of Evol. There is also a cover of the classic song of Uriah Heep, Lady in Black, which may seem irrelevant with the album and its topic, but when you listen to the version that the band created, you will appreciate that they included it. The songs last from five to seven minutes and their structure is good, sometimes repetitive, but not tedious for the listener. In ‘Cold Waters of Anduin’ too, Skilar is responsible for performing the instruments and Alexey for performing the vocals, and both have done a nice job. All the instruments are played with accuracy and passion, with the ruling one to be the keyboards which create the entire scenery and achieve to offer the different feelings during the progress of the story. The guitars are supporting the compositions giving that dark and massive character, while the bass adds depth. The drum machine has basic lines, acceptable sound and in general it is decent. The vocals have a lot of variety regarding the expression of feelings and the performance of the dialogs and the narration, giving life to the story. Depending on the storys moment, the vocals are harsh Black Metal, other times deep Death Metal – like and other times clean, either singing or narrating. The lyrics are the original poems of Tolkien and they are contained in the cd. In conclusion, ‘Cold Waters of Anduin’ is an interesting album, giving the next chapter of their narration well. The new instruments’ sounds presented here, make the music multidimensional and more interesting. This is not your typical Black Metal release, so I would not recommend it to every fan. If you are a fan of Summonings work or you like epic, majestic and atmospheric Black Metal, you will appreciate this release. If you are a fan of the previous albums of Moongates Guardian, you will surely be excited with this one too.
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