Still riding the momentum of 2018’s East of Sun, Gatekeeper returns to the EP format with Grey Maiden. The Canadians’ epic metal remains at full force as the title track doesn’t waste any time, charging right in with climactic guitars and howling vocals that would fit right in on its predecessor. “Tale of Twins,” a redo from the 2013 Prophecy and Judgement demo, follows it up with less aggression but equal triumph.
The band even finds a way to expand their sonic palette within these confines as “Moss” goes into entirely acoustic territory. The medieval balladry reminds me of Jag Panzer’s similar excursions and it’s nice to see the vocals go from a somber baritone to bombastic wails without getting too silly. The production may be a little too raw for what the track is going for, but it comes out well and I can only hope the band develops this style on future outings.
From there, the EP closes out with “Richard III,” a song originally recorded by obscure Budgie offshoot Tredegar. Gatekeeper really makes this song feel like one of their own as the way they work around the song transitions does justice to the original while also fitting in well with their own songwriting method. Everything feels organic and it’s neat to see a cover feel like a release’s climactic finish as opposed to just a random filler tacked on at the end.
If you liked East of Sun, then Grey Maiden will be an easy shoo-in. While the EP was likely released as an excuse to put out another obscure NWOBHM cover, the songs are great and enough new avenues are explored to keep it from feeling like pure filler. The band may still need a bit more polish to fully realize their vision, but releases like this are always welcome fun. In the meantime, go check out that Tredegar album. It’s pretty great if you’re into that sort of thing.