Heavens Gate - Livin' in Hysteria (No Remorse) 1991
Excellent, galloping heavy metal from Germany. Livin' in Hysteria features high, clean, soaring vocals, galloping guitar riffs and memorable song writing. I am tempted to label Heavens Gate as power metal, but that usually lead to visions of songs of dungeons and dragons as well as keyboard laiden songs. However, that is not the case here at all. As a matter of fact, a couple of songs, like "Empty Way to Nowhere" push the boundries of speed metal. Heavens Gate are just 100% pure heavy metal. Will now have to keep my eyes open for more of this band. (thanks Olaf)
Heavens Gate - Hell For Sale! (SPV) 1992
1. "Under Fire"
Heavens Gate are German power metal. Reviewing this CD more than a decade after it's release, I was tempted to say that they sound like any number of of the hordes of European power metal bands. However, the truth is, in 1992 there weren't the hordes and Heavens Gate were sticking to their heavy metal guns. "Hell For Sale" has everything anyone could ever want in a power metal release; screaming vocals, crunchy guitars, fast licks, double bass, and plenty of melody. The album starts off with a fast, chunky track titled "Under Fire" that sets the mood for the entire CD. Had a band like Primal Fear or Gamma Ray recorded this, it would be considered a metal classic. However, being that Heavens Gate aren't as well know worldwide as those bands, it is relegated to us underground die-hards. The title track is equally vicious with a gang chorus and some screaming vocals from Thomas Rettke. The lead breaks are pretty cool in the song as well. "He's the Man" brings the speed down some. This song has a slight Queen vibe to it, especially in the layered vocals, but also reminds me of Helloween with their big epic, sing along feel. (remember songs like "Dr. Stein" and "I Want Out"?) The majority of the tracks here have this sort of feel. "Up An' Down" is a boogie rocker with a fun solo break in the middle. This song sort of reminds me of some of the heavier L.A. bands from the 80's. "Don't Bring Me Down" is the obligatory ballad. One other track worth mentioning is "America", a mid-paced romp that takes issues with America. America bashing is nothing new; it's been going on for decades. The CD finishes off with the incredibly silly "Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life". While this song is obviously meant as a sort of joke, it is one of those songs that always makes me smile, partly because of the lyrics and partly because of the silliness of the delivery. "Hell For Sale!" is a solid European power metal album. It's really a shame that Heavens Gate didn't gain a wider audience. The certainly deserved it.
1. Overture (1:38)
Heavens Gate are one of the older German power metal bands, originally formed in 1982, under the name Steeltower. The band later changed their name and their first full length album under the Heavens Gate moniker was released in 1989. Heavens Gate are one of the forgotten bands on the 1990's. During a time when grunge and post-grunge ruled the day, Heavens Gate held their ground and continued playing straight-forward heavy metal/power metal. Despite the fact that this sort of heavy metal was not in vogue, Heavens Gate managed to capture a dedicated fanbase world-wide. This is especially true in Japan. "Live for Sale!" captures an energetic Heavens Gate live in front of a loud and rowdy crowd in Tokyo, Japan. The crowd was sometimes singing as loud as the band, it seems like this crowd knew every word to every song. Thomas Rettke interacts with the enthusiastic crowd as if they are playing at a big party. Heavens Gate sound is firmly entrenched in classic Euro power metal, with clear Helloween and Judas Priest influences. The album offers a good mix of songs off the band's three previous albums, heavy on the tracks from the "Hell for Sale" album. Heavy riffs, fast licks, furious drums and screaming vocals. Heavens Gate is the full package and pre-dates much of the sound-alike European power metal bands that would begin to flood the market in the late 90's and 2000's.
Heavens Gate - planet e. (SPV) 1996
1. "Terminated World"
Heavens Gate are classic Euro power metal, with clear Judas Priest and Helloween influence. The CD starts off with a heavy track titled "Terminated World" that is a a good mix of aggressive toughness and melody. "Planet Earth" starts off with a rather bizzare vocal opening before breaking into one of the faster songs on the disc. However, "On the Edge" is the fastest song here, and has a distinct Helloween vibe. "Back From the Dawn" has a tough, catchy riffs that runs throughout that is coupled with a melodic chorus and a galloping guitar solo. "The Children Play" is a melancholy, acoustic number with a slight celtic feel. Likewise "Black Religion" starts off with a mellow, Eastern, acoustic intro but picks up the intensity level when the song actually kicks in. The CD finishes off with the happy, humourous song "This Town Ain't Big Enough For Both Of Us".
Heavens Gate - Menergy (Steamhammer) 1999
Helloween-esque, German power metal. Menergy is a strong album from Heavens Gate. The songs are well written and have plenty of hook. "Breakin' Loose" in particular seems like it could have been a hit on rock radio. The song has a similar hooky quality that Helloween's "I Want Out" or "Dr. Stein" had. At the same time, "Menergy" is a slightly darker release overall than any of Heavens Gate's past catalog. Apparently "Menergy" is a concept album of sorts. Between each song there is a short intro, most of which are under thirty seconds long. All the short intros are called "Teleshoot" and are apparently part of the story line. The last track, which I suppose would be and outro, is annoying as the words, "please hold the line, thank you for waiting" is repeated over and over and over again. Frankly, if anything happens at the end, I don't know. I turned the CD off after the first minute or so. I am not exactly sure what the story line is and I am too lazy to figure it out. Frankly the songs are just enjoyable without knowledge of the storyline. I feel the same way about some of King Diamond's material. Unfortunately "Menergy" would be Heavens Gate's last album. I suppose if you are going to go out, go out on the top of your game. I think that is what Heavens Gate did.