And fire swept the earth. No, it’s not Enslaved but Poland’s Misanthropic Rage who cast all asunder with their avant-garde progressive metal. A dark, croaky voice echoes behind a full-out sound which bounces off walls, crunches buildings and creates expanses and big atmospheres. Frequent tempo changes are the order of the day, but Misanthropic Rage somehow manage to blend all embracing darkness and ghastly, industrial scenes with melancholic guitar passages. There’s continuity, which is the main thing and quite an achievement.

I don’t think you can be Polish without creating deathly clouds, and this is what we get on “I, Redeemer”. But what enhances this is the spookiest, echoing voice you’ve heard. The rampage continues. Death metal meets sophistication, Polish style. Momentary respite merely leads to explosion. Power, darkness and atmosphere then combine on “Into the Crypt”. The instrumental warfare is like a battering ram but in among this grimness is exquisite and subtle eastern-sounding touches which serve to intrigue and delight us. The fluency as it reverts to the black world is awesome. Then there’s a style change as Misanthropic Rage adopt an old school blackened death style which Christ Agony would have been proud of. Triggering drums and guitar work, which only has killing in mind, represent the violent “Niehodowlany”, which I believe means “Uncultivated”. The bass is prominent and scrape the depths. Unbelievably, it stops, a creepy guitar line strikes up and a croaking vocalist speaks. A slowed down bass acts as backdrop for a clean vocal plea not unlike Frankie Goes to Hollywood before a dreamy guitar solo ensues, supported by the funereal bass. They’re playing with our minds, these people. Brilliant. “Niehodowlany” has to be the most eclectic and effective track I’ve heard in a long time. A siren-like background then adds atmosphere to the deathly, djenty “Cross Hatred”. Discordant sounds then invade the ghastly, butchering “I Took The Fates Into My Hands”. Another old school production, it drags our lacerated skin through the mud and the thorns, yet rising loftily with its subtle guitar work and chorus.

This is as dark and creative album as you could wish for. This band fears no style, and whilst upholding many of the harshest metal traditions of Poland, “Gates No Longer Shut” is diverse and original. What’s amazing is that this is Misanthropic Rage’s debut album, with only an EP to their name. Well, I can’t wait for the next one. How can they follow this? “Gates No Longer Shut” is outstanding.

(9.5/10 Andrew Doherty)