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Refuge The Ninth Gate

Refuge - The Ninth Gate
1. Withered To Dust
2. Deadweight
3. Tomb Of Torment
4. Blackened
5. Hollow Gaze
2018 self-released

Reviewed by: Roy Omed   //   Published: 9/20/2018

I've listened to countless records in my many years of service as a quasi-music critic. Some of them were splendid and some were embarrassing, but the vast majority, as you may have guessed, landed somewhere in between. Spoiler alert... this new, five-song EP from New York metal/deathcore act Refuge falls amongst the latter.

Launched roughly five years ago, Refuge ply their trade in the murky depths of seriously down-tuned guitars, quintessential deathcore vocals, and breakdowns galore. Picture thirty-five hairy cretins dripping with sweat and crowd killing in a VFW hall somwehere in suburban Michigan and you get the idea. Their sinister concoction of hardcore and metal should resonant with fans of bands like Falsifier, I AM, and Bodysnatcher (or The Acacia Strain, Lorna Shore, et al. if you widen your deathcore parameters).

The production on The Ninth Gate is impressive for a self-released record and the band's performance is perfectly fine. Unfortunately, the weakest link in their proverbial chain is songwriting, not exactly an inconsequential component. I've listened to this EP a large handful of times and I still have difficulty differentiating a few of its tracks. Generally speaking, Refuge mete out inexorable barrages of plodding guitar riffs, double bass drums, and blast beats, essentially a homogeneous, fifteen-minute soundtrack to cattle slaughterhouse footage. What little variety The Ninth Gate offers is provided primarily by the inclusion of guests vocalists (including Nick Arthur of Molotov Solution and Andrew Hileman of the aforementioned I AM) on three of its tracks.

Refuge do deliver a few rousing moments, including the ride cymbal-backed groove midway through "Blackened" and the malevolent outro to "Deadweight." I just need more of them. This is down-tempo deathcore for mosh pit brutality, not sustenance for admirers of songwriting craftsmanship. If that's cool with you, then Refuge have you covered.

Refuge possess the fundamentals necessary to succeed in this genre and there's nothing embarrassing about The Ninth Gate, but there is ample room for improvement here. If they can focus on producing cohesive songs instead of breakdown exhibitions, Refuge could be a band to keep an eye on.

fourthgradecocktease   posted 10/1/2018 6:24:34 PM
why is this the one album lambgoat has reviewed this year? Apparently you don't care about this record and no one else does either? What is this?