Up to this point, Twelfth Gate's greatest claim to fame probably was opening up a sold-out gig for Symphony X and Blind Guardian at The Metro in Chicago in December 2002. Back then, the progressive-metal quartet's debut CD, Summoning, had not been released, so the uninitiated (like yours truly) didn't really have a grasp on these guys yet.
Here's the deal: Summoning is loaded with heavy, thick and melodic metal that doesn't follow traditional song structures. Singer Scott Huffman's deep voice is tinged with just enough operatic evil to give an impending sense of doom, while guitarist Rich Knight's playing is aggressive yet disciplined. The rhythm section of bassist Rob Such and drummer Mike Nevaril is fast and lethal. Highlights include rousing opener "Mortal Coil," the catchy "Desire Brings" and "Orpheus," and the mighty and complex "Forgotten Names."
That said, by the end of Summoning, the songs tend to sound a tad too similar to each other, fusing together into sort of a one-dimensional, full-throttle, prog-metal monster. But there's still plenty of decent material here, and based on this debut, Twelfth Gate's second album should be an absolute scorcher.