The Black Gates
The Black Gates
Eric Sanders - Lead Vocals
Rick Fisher- Rythym Guitar
Jack Barrett - Lead Guitar
Ben Fulbers- Programming
Brutal Death Metal(early material)
Technical Death Metal
1994 - present
O.F.O.H.A Records 2007
The Black Gates are a Corby, UK based progressive metal act, formed initially in 1994 by Rick Fisher and his brother Jack Fisher. The band were then a four peice: Rick Fisher (Rythym guitar/vocals), Jack Fisher (Lead Guitar/vocals), Darren Short (bass)andTim Fletcher (drums).
The Black Gates first came to prominence with a rapid series of three demo's, dubbed the Three I's, for they all begun with the letter I. The first was Invocation of the Wrath of the Gods of War, Inconsolable and Implacable Destroyer . These demo's helped expand their fan base already swelling due to relentless touring. They came to the head of the Australian scene with their debut album Blackened Path to Destruction. Several months ago, the band split up following the departure of Rick Fisher and the release of their fifth album, Symbolic Faluire
The Blackened EraEdit
The Blackened Era is the first incarnation of the band, which imploded, but never offically broke up following the release of Blackened Path to Destruction and just prior to the band embarking on a tour across Australia and New Zealand. The band begun their early days as a four peice, brutal death metal band who cited influences such as Cannibal Corpse, Deicide, Malevolent Creation, Morbid Angel to name a few. As they proceeded with their demos, the band begun to add technical elements into their style as the members became more proficient and confident in their abilities. Their first demo is considered to be rather average, with the skill errors rather prominent but by the time of their third, there was a clear and marked improvement. The release of their debut album showed that the band had moved a world away from their earlier, error riddled demos.
While the band were gaining plenty of attention, problems had been increasing behind the scenes. It first came to a head betweent Rick Fisher and bassist Darren Short. Short had a problem with keeping quiet and was a hot headed individual who often butted heads with Fisher over song writing and trivial things related to the band. For the sake of harmony, Short was fired and a search for a bassist began. However, problems resurfaced, this time in the form of drummer Hatchet. Hatchet was a violent drunk, wildly unpredicatble with his behaviour, and missed one too many practices for Fishers' liking. The final straw for Fisher was on one practice day, when Hatchet couldn't be contacted at all. It became evident shortly after that he had disappeared from public veiw, with no-one, not even his few freinds and his family aware of his location. It's rumoured that he ended up in prison for attempted murder in 1997 and had been recently released due to good behaviour but this hasnt been verified.
After that, Jack Fisher then quit the band as auditions were being held, citing 'problems at home'. Though Rick was hurt by the loss of his brother, he continued searching for replacements. Rick himself was caught up in domestic dramas as his marraige of four years begun to disintegrate badly, leading to the guitarist being sentenced to jail for nine months. At this point, the band ceased to be, but Fisher never officially ended the band, saying he 'kept writing some material to keep him sane, but I am no Varg Vikernes' in reference to the infamous black metal musician.
Many had rightly beleived that The Black Gates were finished when Fisher was jailed. Upon release he went to ground, distancing himself from music and trying to get his life back on track. He had decided it was best to get away and soon ended up in England, living with relatives in Corby. Fisher persued a normal nine to five life with the council but after tentatively checking out the live music scene in the surrounding area, he decided he had to get back into music and resurrect The Black Gates. There was no need to worry about any expectations, The Black Gates were hardly known outside Australia. After an extensive and exhausting search, he came up with the right musicians. First in was guitarist Jack Barrett who had experience in playing with numerous technical death metal acts across the country. George Rutan came next on bass, and brought intelligence and alcohol fueled mayhem to the band. Paul Smith came in on drums, who was more an innovative jazz drummer around London who had begun to branch out into metal. Fisher initially decided to do vocals but came across a flamboyant 26 year old in Eric Rutan who had an amazing vocal range. Taking a different step, Fisher recruited programmer Ben Fulbers to add a different dynamic to the band.
The new formation ofThe Black Gates decided to test the waters with Bound by the Unholy Trinity, more or less a demo but considered an EP by the band. It was available only in the UK and Australia/New Zealand and a quarter of a million copies. At the time the band were writing a brand new album and they had completed roughly 90% of it when they released, a month later, a sample of the album in the Towers of Decay EP which contained a brand new track in the EP's title track, plus two tracks from Blackened Path to Destruction, showing off the bands newfound dynamics. The title track was a prime peice of progressive technical death metal. Two and a half months later, the band unleashed Towers of Decay on the world, which received rave reviews from just about all magazines concerned with extreme metal. The band incorporated the use of instrumental interludes and wove chilling atmospherics throughout to great effect. Its best charting effort was 33 in the UK. Overall it reached 157 world wide.
The band decided on a new tack, in investigating further the dynamic atmospherics and acoustic interludes prevalent on Towers of Decay. The band released a three track EP entitled Inconcessus Lux Lucis two and a half years later, after having completed the monumental Towering Decay world tour which took in every continent. The release received alot of positive reveiws but fans reaction was not so kind, with plenty voicing their objection. It was barely sighted in the charts and sold 800,000 copies. However, it did pave the way for an interesting side project to come later on.
Five months later, three years after Towers of Decay, following a strenuous writing period, the band put out The Forbidden Light. The band went back to basics and is considered a more traditional technical death metal album though the band did not eliminate entirely their progressive slant. It did not sell as well as Towers.. in the UK but did reach 135 world wide. Here, following the release, Paul Smith announced his intention to quit the band. Maggy Langley was recruited shortly after.
Fisher did not waste much time in writing new material. This was halted as the band joined My Dark Desires on the Post Apocalypse world tour for the North American dates around Christmas and here George Rutan got into massive problems with the police after assaulting members of the public in a drunking rampage following a show in Washington. Here George was sentenced to three years jail, with the band having to use the bass tech John as a fill in for the remainder of the tour. For their Damned in Japan slot with TYRANT, bassist of brutal deathsters Evil, Sir Titus Crowe stepped in for the five dates.
Whilst the band were stung by George's jail sentence, with Fisher angry as well, they did not let this stop the momentum on their new material. The band were fortunate that Harry Lathien of Sudan was able to act as studio bassist and personally wrote three of the songs. Also involved in the process was James "" Jimmy"" Kelso of thrash legends M.A.D, who lended vocals to the album. Rumours of drunken behaviour abounded throughout the sessions, something totally different to the usually stoic and straight laced recording process the band employed.
2008 and the SplitEdit
With much anticipation, the band unleashed their fourth album The Sorrowful Mystery to massive fan and media acclaim. It is the bands most diversifed release yet, pushing themselves further away from the death metal spectrum. It has sold over two million copies and today continues to sell strongly, hitting 32 in Australia and 90 in the world. The highly intense writing and recording sessions took a great toll on Rick Fisher, who had set such high standards for the album that his health suffered significantly. Shortly after this Rick Fisher announced the band would be taking a break, with no world tour to support the album, sparking claims, neither confirmed nor denied, that The Black Gates would be splitting up. Adding to this is the fact the band has yet to find a replacement for George Rutan.
Further fueling these rumours was the release of Rick Fisher and Jack Barrett's side project Sisyphean first album Struggle with Life. It's a project that has further expanded on the darker, instrumental elements of The Black Gates, its seed first planted in their Inconcessus Lux Lucis EP. It's a far more obscure outfit, featuring a handful of unknown artists and deals in weighty subject matters.
Rick Fisher along with Eric Sanders have begun spending their spare time in running the bands own label Malevolent Creations. Ben Fulbers was involved in producing Firestone's third album Mephistopheles. Maggy Langely has not confirmed any intents outside of The Black Gates.
Just of late, it was announced via a statement on the bands website, that Rick Fisher has quit The Black Gates. It came as a massive shock to many people, with Fisher stating he had lost his desire to continue on with the band. Fisher has said he will continue to work on Sisyphean and run his record label as well. The band decided to continue on without their figurehead and roped in former M.A.D main man James Kelso to fill in whilst the band sought a replacement. They filled the vacant bassist role however, recruiting Swede Mikael Brandstrom as they headed into the studio for their fifth release. The Black Gates produced Symbolic Failure, their most stripped back release, toning down on the bands famed progressive slant. The record lend towards a more thrashier sound but still contained moments of heightened technicality but in a less gradnoise form. It turned out to be their best selling record ever, the fans lapping up the rarified brutality, selling over three million copies and managing a world wide high of 37. Jack Barrett claimed it was their most free flowing and invigourating release ever, far less stressful than the "Sorrowful" sessions. However, rather abruptly, following the release, the band announced that they were calling it quits, citing they had done what they felt they could have under the The Black Gates banner. The band had only one farewell show, that been the Hellfire Open Air fest in Lithuania, with no tour planned. Rumours abounded of a best-of compilation, confirmed by Jack Barrett, have been spread but nothing has materialized yet. Barrett himself has turned his attentions to helping out with Sisyphean and has his own band that he plans to unleash shortly. Maggy Langely has quit the music world, Mikael Brandstrom has returned to Sweden to play with friends in the metal scene there, Ben Fulbers has concentrated on producing for bands and Eric Sanders has not announced any intentions.
It was unexpected when it was announced that an informal reunion between all orginal members, with the exception of George Rutan and Ben Fulbers, had occured and an EP entitled Shadows was released. It displayed none of the bands previous progressive turns and instead was an all out technical assault that was more in line with the bands earliest days. It was also notable for the return of drummer extroardionare Paul Smith who had quit Dies Irae. Whilst no tours had been undertaken, it was decided after the warm reception of the EP that the band would return for good. As a result, the band have recently been holed up in a Newcastle studio in Australia recording their sixth album entitled Serpent Headed Fury. The band has currently four tracks written and Rick Fisher has described it as their most progressively ambitious release yet, relying much less on their siganture strain of technical death metal and instead exploring more out there elements music wise.
- Eric Sanders - Lead vocals (2005-present)
- Jack Barrett - Lead Guitar(2005-present)
- Mikael Brandstrom - Bass (2008-present)
- Paul Smith - Drums (2007-present)
- Rick Fisher - Rythym (1994-present)
- Rick Fisher- Rhythm Guitar (1994-2008, 2008-present)
- Paul Smith- Drums (2005-2007)
- James "Jimmy" Kelso- Guest Vocals
- Harry Lathien- Studio Bass
- Darren Short - Bass (1994-97)
- Tim Fletcher - Drums (1994-96)
- Jack Fisher - Lead Guitar (1994-97)
- 'Hatchet'- Drums (1996-97)
- George Rutan- Bass (2005-2007)
- Maggy Langely- Drums (2005-2008)
- Main article: The Black Gates discography
- Invocation of the Wrath of the Gods of War (1994) (demo)
- Inconsolable (1994) (demo)
- Implacable Destroyer (1995) (demo)
- Bound by the Unholy Trinity (2003) (demo)
- Towers of Decay (2003) (EP)
- Inconcessus Lux Lucis (2006) (EP)
- Shadows (2008)) (EP)