Featuring two brand-new compositions, a cover song and a track re-recorded from their first demo, Grey Maiden picks right up where the band's acclaimed East Of Sun first full-length left off. The groundswell of support in North America and abroad - including the selling out of the vinyl and CD pressing of East Of Sun within six months - spurred GATEKEEPER to satiate their ever-growing fanbase with a new release.
"We've been working harder and faster than ever since all of this started happening," says guitarist and founding member Geoff Blackwell. "If there's one thing I've learned from spending the past ten-plus years in bands, it's that momentum is your greatest resource and you've gotta pour gasoline on the little fires that pop up in your career."
According to Blackwell, GATEKEEPER (who are rounded out by vocalist Jean-Pierre, lead guitarist Kenny Kroecher, bassist David Messier and drummer Tommy Tro) has performed more shows in 2018 than all other years of the band combined, which has started to influence their songwriting. While East Of Sun is considered by many fans to get only better with each passing listen, the songs on Grey Maiden are some of the band's most immediate compositions to date. However, there are some twists afoot.
"The title track might be our best song yet," notes Blackwell. "It's got a massive chorus, intricate vocal lines and catchy, pummelling riffs. We re-recorded the song 'Tale Of Twins', which is an old favorite that we've been playing lately. It's finally gotten the recording and performance quality that the song deserves! JP did a great job with the singing on this one.
"'Moss' is a big departure from our other material," he continues. "It's a soft, finger-picked acoustic ballad featuring a lilting guitar pattern inspired by traditional folk music with fantasy-tinged lyrics. We also brought in a guest violinist to fill in the gaps. It's much different than anything else we've done, but I think it makes perfect sense for GATEKEEPER. Lastly, we covered an obscure NWOBHM song by a band named TREDEGAR called 'Richard III'. They're a very cool, but forgotten band from Wales who had ex-members of BUDGIE in their ranks. They were a very early example of epic metal and we decided that it would be a good match for us. Kennyand I took some liberties with the guitar arrangement."
GATEKEEPER's future plans include a tour of Europe in support of Grey Maiden, including spots on key festivals such as Hell Of Hammaburg, Swordbrothers and Up The Hammers. In addition to more live dates in their home territory of Canada, GATEKEEPER will buckle down and get to work on their second LP, which, according to Blackwell, will feature material contributed by the entire band. But, before the calendar jumps over to 2019, some reflection of 2018 is warranted, a year that saw GATEKEEPER emerge as one of the best new traditional metal hopefuls in recent memory.
"Obviously we all hoped the album would do well and I figured that we'd make a few sales and play some fun shows here and there," closes Blackwell. "But, I absolutely never expected us to sell out the first vinyl and CD pressing so quickly. That's the kind of stuff that usually happens to other people. The outpouring of support from our new friends and fans on social media and streaming platforms like YouTube has been huge, too."
Grey Maiden Track Listing
1. Grey Maiden
2. Tale Of Twins
4. Richard III