Answer With Metal comes from a town near Toronto, and though their style is on the more traditional end of things, they don’t have much in common musically with fellow hometown groups like Skull Fist or Axxion. Instead, Answer With Metal most often draws upon the USPM scene of the 1980s. The most obvious comparison would be to another band that recently put out a new record: Attacker. This is because “Return To The Gates” constantly unleashes a barrage of high-speed riffs that are complemented by the soaring upper-range of lead vocalist Dan Nielsen. The major differentiating aspect between the two bands is that Answer With Metal isn’t quite as over the top all of the time. Sure, there are still wicked high-pitched screams, but these guys can tone it down as well.
In addition to the charging anthemic sounds the band uses most frequently, they can also get thrashy at times, with the main riff of “Lost In Lockdown” providing the most obvious example. The variety is nice, but this riff feels a little awkward and is not the band’s strong suit. To take the experimentation a step further, there are even some riffs on this release (particularly on "The Visitation" and "Fear Not The Gods of Death") that almost lean towards black metal because of the way dissonance is used. The connection is somewhat subtle, but undoubtedly there.
In general, however, much of “Return To The Gates” features upbeat songs that utilize plenty of melody and require excellent musicianship. This record is proof enough that lead guitarist and primary songwriter Andrew Jarvis is a serious shredder, but having seen the band live several times, I can also attest to his skills. He crushes the fretboard with ease, whether in one of the many guitar solos, or in the harmonized lead playing that adorns a track like “Gravewalker”, along with many others. The title track marks another excellent example of more intricate playing, as even the main riff gets quite technical. Even the sole slow song on this disc, "The Visitation", manages to have enough unique harmonies and melodies to be worthwhile. This track absolutely explodes at the end with several killer guitar lines and passionate vocals that complement the new tempo that the band moves to.
Overall, “Return To The Gates” is a stellar effort from a band that should be making waves in the metal scene. Tracks like the speedy “Time To Die”, the pounding “Destroyer of Worlds”, and the shredfest “Return To The Gates” are instant winners and likely to be longtime fan favourites. There’s always room for improvement in the songwriting department, but “Return To The Gates” still stands tall among many other albums from similar sounding bands. The only thing holding Answer With Metal back at this point, is the band’s name. But of course, that’s just aesthetic, and the music still crushes, so all serious USPM and traditional heavy metal fans should make it a priority to buy this album before 2016 comes to a close!
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"Time To Die"
"Return To The Gates"
"Destroy of Worlds"
4.1/5 or 82%.
Written by Scott