Mausoleum GateNow this got me excited I must say – ‘true’ heavy metal citing such legendary acts as Cirith Ungol, Uriah Heep and Warlord as influences, cloaked in the sort of obscure, dusty post-NWOBHM atmosphere that I personally find so intoxicating, I was first in the queue when the Ed was dishing this out. OK, so whilst this isn’t actually some sort of long-lost gem from a group of Tolkien-obsessives from the early 80s (and is in fact the 2014 debut album from a group of committed Finns), they have done their damnedest to lovingly recreate the vibe of that wonderfully fertile genesis of US power metal where classic metal, psychedelic 70s rock and pulp horror/fantasy combined to create a heady mix indeed.

They’ve really got the sound nailed on this, no question. It’s suitably organic and dusty with just the amount of overdrive on the guitars and no drum triggers in sight. This authenticity extends further to the vocals which are high in the mix, draped in warm echo and suitably warbling. In truth, it gets off to a rather dodgy start – ‘Magic of the Gypsy Queen’ sprints forth energetically enough after a simmering organ intro but V P Varpula’s vocals in the opening verses sound deeply wobbly. It’s odd – almost like a false start – as by the time the rampant early Maidenisms and twin guitar flamboyance of the chorus kick in, he’s peeling off the lines with controlled gusto.

From then on, Mausoleum Gate really pick up. The ludicrously titled ‘Demon Droid’ delivers a tasty riff not a million miles from Kansas’s ‘Carry on my Wayward Son’ alongside some pleasing Ashbury-esque leads whilst the first of this album’s two epics ‘Lost Beyond the Sun’ – in that grand tradition of NWOBHM epics like Saxon’s ‘The Eagle Has Landed’ – deploys a soaring chorus and some melodramatic mellotron choirs to rousing effect.

It goes without saying that originality is in short supply here and almost every track has the listener sitting up and exclaiming ‘shit, that really reminds me of something!’, but that’s the whole point. ‘Mercenaries of Steel’ sounds like a more stripped-down version of Kal Swan’s Lion (Mr Varpula is a dead ringer for the Scot at times) or the US’s Omen with some infectious vocal harmonies and a real gallop whilst ‘There Must be Demons’ – probably the weakest song here to be fair – still boasts some decent guitar flourishes.

The album concludes with the second of the epics here, the 11 minute plus title track. Replete with twin guitar harmonies, an infectious chorus, some frantic Hammond organ soloing and a rousing coda, it’s a summary of everything that makes the band so enjoyable and is a real high point to end the record with. To conclude, ‘Mausoleum Gate’ is an enjoyable, authentic slice of old-school epic metal – a little rough around the edges it may be but it’ll doubtless go down an absolute storm at the next instalment of the ‘Keep it True’ or ‘Sword Brothers’ festivals. And rightly so.

(8/10 Frank Allain)