More work to do. That's was my initial and lasting impression of Rose Funeral's "Gates of Punishment." The band prides themselves on their unique character of groove-based death metal, but that quality doesn't come through quite like the band would have you believe.
In their worst moments, Rose Funeral doesn't sound terribly different than any number of other wall-of-sound, crushing breakdown death or extreme metal bands. That's truly a shame, because in their best moments (and they do have them,) Rose Funeral borders on territory that would put them in the same company as Fear Factory.
What's strangest of all is that Rose Funeral attempts to build much of their brutality on the precision of their drums, which to their credit, is quite high. However, many of the tracks on the album's back half, "Entercism" being one, sound better without drums at all, existing merely on the strength of the full-bodied guitar. Don't ask me how I found that out, but it's true. Rose Funeral's guitar isn't terribly virtuous, but holds the rhythm well creates the feeling of dread that the band desires. They would in truth be capable of carrying entire sections or songs by their own merit. Instead, all too often we see those melodies either buried by, or trying to keep up with, the percussive backbone.
There are moments on "Gates of Punishment" that are, if not transcendent, at least appreciable. "A Recreant Canticle" is probably viewed by the band as a throw-away piece, but the instrumental is the album's best fare. It is the song that most distinctly encapsulates the best elements of Rose Funeral's talent, crafting a piece that is filled with an artistic, energetic dread.
The album's back half features more of the stronger moments that showcase Rose Funeral's potential. It is worth noting however, that these moments come not as a product of groove laced through the songwriting so much as they are a product of the cadence containing more starts and stops. That feature, as is prominent in songs like "Arise Infernal Existence" and "The Desolate Form," makes the songs much more accessible and enjoyable, giving perhaps the smallest glimpse of what Rose Funeral is capable of.
Still, on balance the songs not specifically mentioned here all sound largely similar, beginning with "Grotesque Indulgence" and ending with the title cut. Lack of refinement and a void of variety hold "Gates of Punishment" back from its full potential.
More work to do. Rose Funeral has talent, but would do well with crafting that talent into a more cohesive form, rather than concentrating on slinging as much noise as possible at their fans.