Released in the spring of 2006, Enter the Gate is the fifth studio album from the Christian metal band Narnia. Although this quartet based out of Jonkoping, Sweden has been around for over twelve years, I had only heard of them recently. Enter the Gate is my introduction to Narnia’s music, and I will say I am quite pleased with what I have heard, as the band’s sound is a blend of several styles including power metal, melodic metal with some neo-classical influences thrown in for good measure. The lyrics are rooted in God’s Word, expressing the band members’ faith in Him and calling the listener into a relationship with Him through His Son, Jesus Christ.
Lead singer Christian Rivel’s voice is well-suited to Narnia’s style of metal. His vocals are largely clean and smooth, yet occasionally becoming a little more gritty and aggressive. Carl Johan Grimmark shows his versatility as a guitarist, churning out drving metal power chords one moment, then offering beautiful melodic leads then next, and even adding some blues licks to a couple of songs.
Enter the Gate kicks off with “Into This Game,” an up-tempo tune with driving guitars. This song also demonstrates how a metal band should use keyboards: enhancing the music without overpowering the guitars and drums. “People of the Bloodred Cross” starts off slow, but quickly picks up tempo. This song is about the persecution of Christians worldwide, with a message for both the persecuted and the persecutors:
There is danger in the air
Afraid to face reality
Where can we run and where can we hide?
Listen to the Master’s voice inside
We are protected in His name
You can take our lives, but
You cannot take our faith
The album’s title track points to Christ as the “open gate” by which man comes to God and is saved:
Yeah, I hope to see You there
Don’t’ You see I care for you
All to win for You and me
Eternal love and peace for free
The eternity to win
Jesus is the open gate
Enter in and You will see
The sins are gone, You are free
My favorite song on Enter the Gate is the closing track, “The Man from Nazareth,” a lengthy epic running nearly nine minutes long (eight minutes, forty seconds to be exact), relating the life story of Jesus Christ.
He was a carpenter, a simple man
Living a simple life in Nazareth, the story tells
His mother always knew that He was meant
To serve a special purpose here, the angel had said, the story tells…
Messiah, oh Messiah
See the Son of God among
Saints and sinners, old and young
Speaking words of wisdom
Turn the other cheek, believe
And the truth shall set you free
Spoke the man from Nazareth
Jesus, King of Kings…
As His friend betrayed Him with a kiss
They tortured Him for all to see
A victim of atrocity
And they nailed Him to a cross
The earth was shaking curtains fell
As He spoke His final words:
“It is finished”
Other notable tracks include “Another World,” “Show All the World,” “This is My Life,” “Aiming Higher” and the seven-minute ballad “Take Me Home.” The CD I purchased was the standard edition released to the European market. The Japanese market release contains a bonus track, “Hymn to the North,” which is included in the band’s best of release “Decade of Confession.”
Enter the Gate is the final Narnia album to feature both of the band’s founding members as Christian Rivel left the group last spring to give him body a break. The remaining band members announced last August that German Pascual, a Brazilian-born singer who relocated to Sweden during his teens, would join the group as their new lead vocalist. They plan to release their sixth studio album, Course of a Generation, on July 24th of this year. After listening to the Narnia for the first time, I am quite impressed with the band, both as musicians and as ministers. Enter the Gate is an excellent album, and a great introduction to Narnia’s music. I am certainly looking forward to their forthcoming release.