Occasionally an album will get by me. I try to keep my ears to the ground and be aware of the good stuff coming my way, but there are times when there’s so much good stuff happening at the same time I or one of my many clones will miss something great.
Case in point: Cemetery Gates.
Cemetery Gates is the music project of musicians Gene Priest(Skeleton Beach) and Derek Jones(Jonwayne Spacey). The two have been making music together for 20 years, since the musicians were wee lads in short pants. Now, they may not be so wee and their pants are longer, but the musical bond is as strong as ever. These two take the eerie vibes of Carpenter, Goblin, and Brad Fiedel and mix them with synth pop greats like Depeche Mode, OMD, and the Postal Service.
The results of this coming together of vibes is the 2018 full-length debut Welcome to Hell(Vol. 1). The 13-track album is a Gothic mix of both pulsating dread and sorrowful synth, culminating in a exquisite bit of horror score nostalgia and modern electronic flair. Imagine 80s Tangerine Dream hunkering down in some Berlin studio in 1984 with Martin Gore and Dave Gahan and you might get the idea of what Priest and Jones are up to. Welcome to Hell is an absolute delight of the senses.
The song titles on Welcome to Hell are all quotes from classic horror films. I must confess, I didn’t know them all, but I knew a lot of them. Opener “Scary German Guy Is Bitchin'”(The Monster Squad) is all slinky synth and palpable dread. It’s subtle and sneaks up on you like a prowler in the night. “I’m Your Boyfriend Now, Nancy”(Nightmare On Elm Street) captures a bit of Charles Bernstein’s original score vibe, while making this a contemporary electronic song that works on many levels. Another stellar track is “No Tears Please, It’s a Waste Of Good Suffering”(Hellraiser). Gorgeous, eerie, and haunting.
One of my favorite tracks here is the lilting and ethereal “Your Friend Needs a Psychiatrist, Not A Vampire Killer”(Fright Night). With so many moody bits of electronic dread here, this track feels like a break in the clouds. This song puts me in mind of German bands like Harmonia&Eno, Popol Vuh, and some of the more brighter bits of 70s Krautrock and Komische.
Throughout Welcome to Hell Cemetery Gates captures both the spirit of those horror films that blew our minds growing up and the sometimes breathtaking music that accompanied those films. But don’t think of this as just some nostalgia trip, because it’s not. Priest and Jones can nod to their love of horror while also making an absolutely engaging electronic record. They hit territory that artists like Slasher Film Festival Strategy, Cory Kilduff, and Espectrostatic like to explore, while giving their songs an overall pop sheen and a truly original vibe.
Cemetery Gates gives fresh breath into the horror/synth-themed music world. Welcome to Hell is exquiste, darkly evocative, and an absolutely engaging listen. Here’s to Vol. 2 coming very soon.
7.9 out of 10