The “Gates of Loki” album and its music is a desolate, introverted place of darkness that summons broodingly melancholic images of angst and tension, and it’s all been dreamt up by Russia’s PuzzleWood.
The music on this debut album, I have to say, doesn’t immediately reward you as a listener. However, the lush melodies that are imbedded deep within the ten songs found on this recording grow, swell and expand the more you explore them, and soon the shadowy lyrical themes of alienation that exist between the individual and society as a whole draw you in to the all encompassing world that PuzzleWood have fashioned.
The album kicks off cleverly with “Intro (Gates of Loki)”. Its light but sinister musicality builds over time and you find that your attention never wanders, however laid back the music feels to you; the song sweeps over your senses, taking them hostage, and its (almost) hypnotic, trance-like melody keeps you chained to the song like a prisoner, but a prisoner who doesn’t want to escape. “Remember My Name” has an almost Riverside-like feel to it. “Tyrant Who Fall in Love” is again trance-like in the extreme, but the way the song is nurtured and allowed to grow is an amazing thing to hear, and it is for me the album’s standout composition.
“To the Void” feels intricate, incorporating varied instrumentation by the three members, as well as a bouzouki performed by guest Dmitry Ignatov. There is a number of ethnic instruments that can be heard throughout “Gates of Loki,” what gives this record its specific flavour. Basem Al-Ashkar’s arabic oud on the closing “Road Will Lead” is beautifully dissonant, making for a perfect ending.
It’s not an easy album to like initially, but given the right amount of time that this weird style of Prog needs to work its magic on you, “Gates of Loki” soon becomes an impressive, thoughtful release that has all the tools needed for it to become a minor classic amongst those who frequent the shaded borderlands of the Progressive Rock World.
Stream / buy “Gates of Loki” from Bandcamp.