HEAVENSGATE is the new hot topic in modern hardcore. From the launch of their debut single last October via Greyscale Records up to their most recent releases, the hype for the Australian quintet has yet to dwindle. With a brutal yet insanely creative mix of extreme sounds from a variety of genres, this year’s EP AND ALL I LOVED, I LOVED ALONE immediately stood out to me as a truly excellent release, exploring a niche that many similar bands struggle with, and I’ve been rinsing it ever since.

Across the 6 tracks, the EP explores a ridiculous plethora of sounds that are scarcely combined – at least not to this level of success – including, of course, the crushing modern hardcore sound popularised by tyrants like Alpha Wolf, Knocked Loose, and Thrown, but even this has its own special twist. Where similar bands might shy away from pushing audio to its very limits, HEAVENSGATE powers through these limits with devastatingly low distorted guitars, straight-up-violent drum work, and vocals that could tear down a small house, and that makes me very happy. Mix-wise, this effect can be easily recognized as Buster Odeholm’s approach to metal – see Ashen by Humanity’s Last Breath – but as a signature sound, it's about as badass as you can get. Combined with the ridiculous array of talent that HEAVENSGATE had behind them when writing – including Joshua Ang of Pincer+ and Erik Bickerstaff on drum production – the group had plenty going for them with this EP, so all that was left was to write some truly mental songs.

"CHEMICAL HEAVEN" was the first single for the EP, released on the 21st of October last year, immediately cementing the band as one to watch. With a sludgy guitar track accompanied by drummer Caleb Kotsanis’ tight-yet-crushing grooves and nasty fills straight from the outset, you’re instantly involved, headbanging and spin-kicking to your core-kid-heart’s content. Then comes Nazareth Tharratt on vocals, with some properly heavy screams and
crazy, intense lyrics to fill up your headphones with a tasty wall of sludgy hardcore

But then, everything drops out.

In its place comes a mesmerizing, reverb-smothered chord that flows from ear to ear in the complete absence of any other sound – that is until the drums smash back in. This – for lack of a better term – shoegaze-y sound is what really makes the EP stand out for me, and it's absolutely not the last we hear of it.

The following track, "GINSICK," opens with a similar sound, establishing the melodic structure for the rest of the song and persisting throughout, filling in the gaps and encompassing the otherwise brutal soundscape. The chorus of this track is a great example of this effect in action: around the lyric “Loveless, trying to dissect my ego,” the shoegaze haze floats through the gaps in the rhythm to produce this all-encompassing oxymoron of sound – a truly unique atmosphere for a track of this type. And then comes the breakdown, and we’re reminded of why we were all here in the first place. Out of nowhere comes a loud, dissonant ring that builds to a jarring chord over the lyric “It's hopeless” – a telltale sign of
destruction soon to come, and that it does. A combination of thick, thudding drum work, rhythmic low chugs from the guitars, and a series of ridiculous high noises that border on headache territory explode out of nowhere, and I can remember being floored by the pure, unfiltered stench of this breakdown that came out of a track with such a gorgeous opening. After picking up the pieces and a short section of smooth, clean vocals – yes, you read that right – over some stunning guitarwork, HEAVENSGATE brings us home with a chorus of both cleans and screams over the same two chords that have stuck with us throughout the entire
track, eventually fading away straight into "LOVERSDANCE."

If you’re like me and all you listen to is people screaming, you might also struggle with finding music to play with your friends who don’t like being screamed at – "LOVERSDANCE" is my new go-to for this precise scenario. Packed with soaring, clean vocals riding a wave of HEAVENSGATE shoegaze, "LOVERSDANCE" is an unexpected but absolutely not unwelcome shift in pace to the rest of the EP, and sticking a heartthrob anthem in a hardcore record is an extremely ballsy move that definitely pays off. Despite the obvious shift in pace and feel,
the atmosphere remains consistent with the rest of the tracks, using the same guitar, drum, and vocal production and, coupled with the super smooth transition between the chords at the end of "GINSICK" and its opening, "LOVERSDANCE" remains a stand-out track for me. An extremely welcome surprise on the first listen.

It is impossible to pick a favorite from this monstrous EP, but I always find myself crawling back to the writhing beast that is "SHEMOVESLIKETHUNDER. " 3 minutes and 7 seconds of pure destruction, fusing the staggering heaviness from Odeholm’s guitar mixing with crazy rhythms and brutal vocals to create the ultimate break-stuff anthem. While most of the track spends its life switching between a few alternate grooves – including a loathe-esque off-rhythm djent-fest, a four-on-the-floor dissonant chord party, and a huge open chorus where the mammoth vocals come into their own – the highlight for me is the ending
breakdown. At the end of the final chorus, Kotsanis hints at the coming storm with a fill while a distorted voice barks the name of the track, just before any hints at melody completely disappear, leaving nothing but brutal 0s and an enormous half-time groove. Then comes one of the best moments on the whole EP, as Tharratt re-emerges to bring the end with the line we’ve all been waiting for:

“She moves like thundooooooooooaaaaaaaaaauuuuuueeeYOW.”

After one final spine-chilling delivery of the
track’s title, it abruptly ends, whiplashing you back into the real world. It really doesn’t get much better than that.

"The other tracks – the opener, "COMFORT IN THE SLOW DEATH," and the closer, "SYMBIOTICSUICIDE" (wonderful names, right?) – are by no means letdowns either, and all together create one of the most consistently brilliant EPs I’ve ever heard. With the perfect mix of pure ingenuity and adaptations on tried-and-true genre tropes, AND ALL I LOVED, I LOVED ALONE is an absolutely masterful debut release and has got me more excited for a hardcore band than I’ve been for a good while – and judging by their newest single "VIOLENT JOY,"

HEAVENSGATE has no intention of slowing down. Whether you’re an avid fan of the genre, expanding your musical palette or even just looking for additions to your gym playlist, do not sleep on HEAVENSGATE – they’re going huge places.


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