Enter the Gate

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Swedish Christian metal act Narnia's fifth album offers more of what their previous releases delivered, a curious blend of '80s-vintage pop-metal and faith-based lyrics. It's like the band were raised in a small locked room with only the recorded works of Stryper for company, because the most peculiar aspect of Enter the Gate isn't the fact that this is a Scandinavian metal band not singing of bloody dismemberment, but how utterly state-of-1987 these tunes are. It isn't just Christian Rivel's vocals, which bear strong resemblance to both Ronnie James Dio and all of those other '80s metal dudes who sounded an awful lot like Ronnie James Dio; all of the other tropes of the style, including the Yngwie Malmsteen-style high-register hammer-on solos and the curiously stiff, swing-free rhythm section, are equally present and accounted for. Even the quasi-classical synthesizers that marred much pop-metal of the era (remember Europe's "The Final Countdown"?) appear with some regularity throughout Enter the Gate. Be advised, or warned, depending on one's enthusiasm for retro-poodle-metal.

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