One could call Brooklyn five-piece Heaven’s Gate “shoegaze” band. They’ve got the requirements: enough volume to test any town’s noise-restriction legislation and plenty of guts to ride the noise for all it’s worth. But while a lot of bands that aspire to that downward-glancing mantle can sometimes tend to be confoundingly boring upon extended listen, Heaven’s Gate does something different. Eyes forward, Heaven’s Gate injects their gaze with energy, verve and bite, and their brand of post-punk owes a little more to the punk half.
The group formed out of the ashes of noise rockers Sweet Bulbs (itself a product of the musical accretion that happens in a tight-knit scene). Guitarists and former Sweet Bulbs members Jack Wolf and Michael Sheffield enlisted singer Jess Paps to front the new group. Drummer Patrick Stankard and bassist Alex Cvetovich round out the lineup. Heaven’s Gate released their debut High Riser EP in October 2012, a record that found the band channeling the noisy but tuneful energy of pre-“Maps” Yeah Yeahs Yeahs. Paps is the band’s not-so-secret weapon. She has the uncanny ability to go where the song goes. Unlike most singers, she doesn’t lead or follow. Her voice becomes part of the song itself, from the sharp stomp and swagger of High Riser‘s “Pogo” to the woozy fugue of the band’s new single “Drone,” which appears on Heaven’s Gate’s upcoming full-length Transmuting (out Sept. 24 on Inflated Records).
There’s plenty of, well drone, on “Drone.” But the band delivers the druggy sway with plenty of bite, and there’s more than enough rocky outcroppings for you dig your nails into. You probably won’t be able to understand a syllable of the actual lyrics–maybe it’s my rock-addled ears or the strata of fuzz–but Paps emotes with punchy ease. She morphs from alluring, almost chant-like vocal lines to throttle-forward rock. They definitely ain’t starin’ at their shoes.