Traitors Gate is barely an infant. They had their first jam session on January 11,2016. This week mark’s their first anniversary, but in their short life span they have experienced notable success, including winning 2016’s X Fest Battle of the Bands this summer. Such success is due in part to their collective talents, seasoned backgrounds, and DIY work ethic. Three members of the quartet are veterans of the Treasure Valley music scene hailing from other previously successful regional bands: Guitarist Ken Mansfield held long tenure with the Gypsy Saints, drummer Tim Allan served time with Brutal Season, and bassist Colby Dees worked with Vault7. Despite such veteran talents, it is perhaps their vocalist, whom they affectionately call Mister ‘Y’, who has been the tempest for the band. Their dynamic front man owns the stage the moment he sets foot in front of the crowd. His charisma, harsh vocal delivery, relatable lyrics, and genuine exuberance connect with metal fans.
Four defiantly strong personalities make up this band that draws on its varied creative backgrounds when writing the powerful and edgy material that can only be Traitors Gate. The band incorporates its metal, heavy rock, punk, and technical influences to create both a visual and sonic experience. Traitors Gate recently completed its debut album at Osmosis Recording Studio, which fans should be able to get a hold of soon.
The difficulty in writing about or reviewing local bands is that you usually know them personally. Often they are friends or at least solid acquaintances, which can hamper one’s ability to be objective. In all honesty, when Traitors Gate wobbled out on shaky legs last winter, I was admittedly skeptical that the band could work. I worried that Mansfield’s classic style of guitar, which often pays homage to the iconic 80s guitar heroes, would not mesh with the modern metal sound the band was trying to craft. But Traitors Gate is not the Gypsy Saints with a fresh coat of paint and a new singer, as I worried it might be. My concerns proved to be unfounded, and it quickly became apparent that not only is Mansfield capable of articulating his unquestionable talents in a contemporary metal direction, but his comrades in arms were equally up to the task of creating something special. This is clear when you hear the debut record.
Local fans are already familiar with album’s first song, “Killing Fields,” with its chunky guitars and hooky chorus. The latter being something that sets Traitors Gate apart from many new bands which often deliver strong riffs, but fail to craft songs that remain memorable to fans.
Dees and Allan crank up the muscular rhythms that drive, “Eater of the Dead”, another stand out track that has something of a dark, slightly cinematic groove to it; something that really stands out on the breakdown.
A personal favorite is the track, “Dear Ms. Kelly,” with its rumble and crunch grind. Another memorable, stuck-in-your-brain-pan chorus here. It is one of the album’s more melodic tracks as is “Plausible Deniability,” which is perhaps the album’s most dramatic and emotive track.
Dees’ undulating bass line serves as the tempest for the up-tempo grinder, “Acceptable Losses”. This segues nicely into the get-in-the-pit throat punch of “Burn Notice,” with its bouncing pinched harmonics, menacing vocals, and chanted chorus. The album closes out with their calling card, namesake anthem, “Join the Gate”.
Traitors Gate’s eponymous self-released album has plenty to like and offers a wonderful promise of what is yet to come. Much of the album is memorable, and built for the stage, which is what you want from your metal. Lest one think I’m blowing smoke, to my ear there are also a couple of weaker songs the record. The tracks “Blitz” and “Static” did not resonate with me as strongly, the latter in part because the chorus feels like the lesser brother of “Killing Fields,” but others might find them as powerful as the rest of the record. Personal taste is always subjective. Overall, the men of Traitors Gate have crafted a debut album that showcases why they have vaulted up the Treasure Valley metal hierarchy so quickly and successfully. Congrats!