Lions at the Gate is ready to roar.
Following their break-up with Ill Nino in 2019, Cristian Machado (vocals), Diego Verduzco (guitar) and Ahrue Luster (guitar) contacted Stephen Brewer (bass, ex-Westfield Massacre) and Fern Lemus (drums/percussion) to form the band, who released a few singles between 2021 and 2023 before announcing the release of The Excuses We Cannot Make, their debut album.
Not Even Human, the first track to be unveiled, opens the album with a heavy and groovy rhythm that perfectly blends with the vocalist’s screams, as well as with the more accessible but equally catchy choruses. The Climb follows with an ethereal introduction that gives way to an effective rhythm while keeping a few soaring touches, then modern effects build on vocals, leading to a soothing break before finally letting Tatiana Shmayluk (Jinjer) join the band for Find My Way, one of the most powerful tracks. The contrast of this track may seem disconcerting on first listen, but it will undoubtedly be one of the most effective on stage, whereas Drain starts off very progressively and integrates diverse influences to create a very different atmosphere, based on clean vocals and modern sounds. Bed of Nails begins in a similar way, with vocals relegated to the background, but the devastating rhythmic pattern soon resurfaces and sweeps everything away in its path, as does Scapegoat, which lets its jerky riffs give way to clear vocals on the choruses. The track remains catchy and reminiscent of some recent productions by the three founders’ former band, while Vultures returns to the modern approach while playing on the heaviness of its raw rhythmics without denying some softer, more heady passages. The band continues with keyboards introducing The Ledge, followed by some modern riffs and the melancholic vocal parts that make the track quite special, while Losing Hope returns to more aggressive, heavy patterns that include dissonant harmonics while leaving the frontman total freedom. The next track is the disquieting Digital Sea, which mixes dark sounds with an overpowering Djent-like surge, leaving the choruses to place calmer elements that will be in the majority on My Apology, the last composition, which leads us gently to the end of the album with a few catchy riffs.
The creation of Lions at the Gate has had the better of my nostalgia, and I think that Cristian Machado‘s voice is as effective as ever, whether it is during waves of aggression or oceans of calm presented to us on The Excuses We Cannot Make. An album that’s easy to listen to and enjoy.