October 3, 2013

LP: Heaven's Gate - Transmuting

Brooklyn's Heaven's Gate brings meaning to the fake phrase powergaze.

Please don't be confused, you are not about to read a review of the German metal band Heavens Gate (those dudes don't use an apostrophe and are broken up). I'm talking about Heaven's Gate, the Brooklyn band whose debut LP, Transmuting, is a perfect album to begin October. The group is composed of guitarists Michael Sheffield and Jack Wolf, bassist Alex Cvetovich, drummer Patrick Stankard, and vocalist Jess Paps. They take take their name from Heaven's Gate, the UFO doomsday cult-religion that ended mass suicide in 1997, who also have one of the best websites I have ever seen.

I don't really like categorizing bands into genres, but I thought the band's Facebook genre of "powergaze" was funny and appropriate, even if it's a total joke. A quick Google search of the term showed that their profile is the 5th result (followed by a bleak Yahoo answers post "Confused by this guy's power gaze"). Heaven's Gate isn't quite shoegaze, punk or garage rock, and I find this extremely refreshing. They echo the most recognizable components of each: reverb, distortion, and hypnotic vocals.  If I made a weird little family tree of the fake history of powergaze and Heaven's Gate, ahoegaze, with its melodic, heavy drone, would be at the top with along with punk. Their offspring would be Heaven's Gate, with its mix of jangle pop, feedback, and powerful hooks. Paps' is an incredible belter (seen notably on "Drone" and "Scream"), and acts a a grounding force while the songs jump from shimmery to scuzzy. The albums has a really smooth flow, the songs move seamlessly into each other. One of my favorite tracks is "Lex Vision" – the initial vocals are dreamy, but the sound grows increasingly unhinged. I will listen to "Transmuting" on the various train rides that I take this fall, and I highly recommend you support these guys.

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Transmuting is out now on Inflated Records.

Written by Quinn Moreland