Just like clockwork… at least more or less. Every couple of years, a new Ides of Gemini full-length comes along, and given the schedule, it was about time for the band to release the follow-up to Old World, New Wave. During the wait, there have been a few changes for the band, primarily in terms of the line-up, which now includes Scott Batiste of Saviours on drums and Adam Murray on bass. It is common for changes of that kind to lead to an new found sense of rejuvenation. This has definitely occurred for Ides of Gemini, which have yet another change in releasing their new record, Women, through Rise Above. So, it is prime time for something more energetic and powerful from the band.
This renewed sense of purpose is definitely felt with Women, and the current state of Ides of Gemini. With Old World, New Wave, the sonic identity of the band was going through process of mutation, moving from the old world to their new style. Without forgetting their doom roots, presented through the gloom of “Queen of New Orleans” and the epic crescendos of “The Rose,” Women furthers this transformation, presenting the band’s most direct and straightforward work to date, with songs that are memorable, filled with hooks, and moving from the specificity of the doom realm into a hybrid rock state.
Categorizing Ides of Gemini as a metal band is slightly off target, and even though there exists a plethora of elements that point to that direction, there is an underlying duality that defies the attempted pigeonholing. The riffs, at times, do scream of metal, and in its most classic form in “The Dancer” or “Rafts of Medusa,” and the groove that comes along has that intoxicating quality that naturally leads to head banging. But even that is presented in a minimalistic manner, and then the sound is diluted by the inclusion of stunning melodies, as in “Heroine’s Descent” or post-metal fury. It is a work that is too heavy to be goth, too ethereal to be metal, appearing somewhere in between.
This coalition of opposites is where Ides of Gemini thrives, finding a balance between the different sonic influences. It is not simply the heavy guitars over melodic vocals setting, bur rather how the rocky and upbeat tone of these heavy, distorted guitars fits the dramatic and expressive delivery of Sera Timms. This issue is masterfully addressed by the producer of the album, Sanford Parker (Minsk, Corrections House, Indian,) who understands perfectly how the arrangements need to be structured so that each element is presented clearly, and does not overwhelm the experience.
In previous years, Ides of Gemini drew inspiration from historical events, but had a deep interest in ancient cities of the old world, mainly Constantinople and Carthage. This new drive they are currently maintaining has led them to broaden the scope and focus on the image of women throughout history – as historical figures, mythological beings like Medusa and the Sirens, protagonists, heroines, mothers and queens. Narratives are important since they bring cohesion to one’s work, and Ides of Gemini have found the centerpiece around which their music for Women evolves, marking it as their highest moment thus far.