Review: PuzzleWood – Gates of Loki

It seems like Russian trio PuzzleWood embraced the cold climate they have up there, and transcended that coldness through the music on Gates of Loki, their full-length debut record released on November 30th, 2017.

Gates of Loki

The album indeed feels cold, sometimes depressive, yet it’s a release that gives a hope. It is a big and bold step forward for a relatively new and unknown band on the scene. After “Intro (Gates of Loki)”, the album fires on all cylinders with “Remember My Name,” which is an arresting soundscape, creating an overwhelming sense of loss. Nikita Lipatov adds another dimension to the overall sound with his keyboards and synths. It adds volumes to the profoundness, and although the vocals aren’t always discernible (the effects sometimes circumvent clarity), they’re nonetheless gripping. Like with the entire album, “Obsessed” is an exquisite example of how the human condition can be expressed absolutely through layers of luscious timbres.

Gates of Loki becomes a bit more complex and direct with “Tyrant Who Fall in Love” and “To The Void,” which both soar due to piercing guitar work and pained dissonance.

Although the entire album is transcendent, the strongest track is probably “Jerusaelem.” It’s a perfect blend of vocal melodies and complementary arrangements, and the way it evolves from just a simple motif to incorporate several other instruments is exceptionally intense and meaningful.

Gates of Loki is a tour de force of emotion, delicacy, passion, cohesion, and grief-stricken beauty, and listeners will undoubtedly get lost in its sentiments and patterns. Each piece takes its time to develop, using both conventional and orchestral textures, as well as a plethora of vulnerable honesty, to make its statements. The record is a life-affirming experience. Few other albums have ever matched its magnificent combinations.