I used to play in a band with a dude from St. Louis, MO. His stories were something else. One time he punched a dude’s eyeball out of the socket while sitting at Denny’s. Then he called that same Denny’s to complain about the fight and wound up getting a free dinner out of the ordeal. According to him, this sort of crazy shit was a daily occurrence. I’ve seen the city firsthand a few times and wondered, “can anything good come from such a ravaged wasteland filled with Denny’s and assault?” The answer is yes! Heavy metal is good, and good heavy metal comes from St. Louis. One such band is The Gorge, and their new album Thousand Year Fire is out on February 12.

I’m glad I got my grubby mitts on a copy of Thousand Year Fire, since I’d never heard The Gorge before. These guys crank out an interesting combination of heaviness, progressive guitar riffs and hardcore vocals. It’s hard to drum up a comparison, so howsabout you get off your ass and give ’em a listen yourself???

Thousand Year Fire goes hard, and each song is quite a bit different than the last. The Gorge employ tons of tempo changes and odd time signatures. The title track borders on thrash at times, where the song “Return to Earth” starts off with a riff that sounds almost like something Animals As Leaders would create. “Dying Breed” veers a little closer into hardcore territory, while “Air Grows Thin” brings the album to a close with crushing slowness, finishing with some cool sweeps and an acoustic outro.

You sold yet? No? Jeez you’re picky. How about some sweet album art? Check this out:

the gorge thousand year fire full album art

The front and back covers

I love the uniqueness of this album cover, which was created by St. Louis artist Jason Spencer. Well-executed and devoid of traditional metal or hardcore imagery, the pastoral nature of the ancient pyramid scene on the front cover contrasts sharply with the transition into polluted modernity. I spoke to guitarist/vocalist Phil Ring, who told me the backstory:

For a few years I’ve been making the drive between St. Louis city and Illinois for commuting purposes. The highway takes you by ancient ruins of a mound civilization, Cahokia Mounds. A little ways down on the opposite side of the highway lies a massive landfill. This notion started to wear on me, that we’ve literally thrown our garbage on top of ancient regional culture. There is another landfill a short distance away that has an underground fire that’s been burning for months, and the fire is encroaching upon a stockpile of Manhattan project-era nuclear waste. It is such a bleak juxtaposition and Thousand Year Fire attempts to touch on that despair.

I’d say The Gorge did an excellent job of doing just that with Thousand Year Fire. Preorder a copy over at The Gorge’s bandcamp page, where you can get a digital copy for a measly $5 or a physical copy for $10.

The Gorge – Thousand Year Fire

Rating: 4/5 Boy Scout Campfire Merit Badges

boy scout campfire merit badges

Like this review? Read more about The Best Metal Albums of 2015