LIONS AT THE GATE: The Excuses We Cannot Make

The Excuses We Cannot Make


ALT-METAL WITH A FAMILIAR VOICE: While three former members of Ill Niño (guitarists Diego Verduzco and Ahrue Luster, and vocalist Cristian Machado) make up the band roster of Lions at the Gate, it needs to be stressed that their debut full-length, The Excuses We Cannot Make, is not just another de facto Ill Niño record, with Machado on vocals and a few new guys behind him. This is something inherently new that is both very exciting and very good at the same time. 

Machado emphasizes the fact that Lions at the Gate and The Excuses We Cannot Make are not just simple retreads during the opening bars of lead single “Not Even Human,” spouting vitriolic bar after vitriolic bar and spewing forth as if he has been waiting nearly five years to get this weight off his chest. He continues to shine on fellow single “Find Me Way,” a truly special banger and an early highlight of The Excuses We Cannot Make thanks to the vocal assistance of Jinjer’s Tatiana Shmailyuk. The two bombastic vocalists pair effortlessly with chugging riffs and churning grooves. “Drain” slows things down early on, allowing Machado to get a bit of shine during the melodic interludes. From here, The Excuses We Cannot Make settles into a solid stretch—singles “Bed of Nails” and “Scapegoat” encapsulate the album as a whole, and “The Ledge” features some of the album’s best hooks. “Losing Hope” and “Digital Sea” are more album highlights, combining big choruses with Machado’s innate ability to shift between soaring refrains and pained screams. 

As it stands, The Excuses We Cannot Make could serve as one of the very best records Ill Niño never released, but it also makes for one hell of a debut album and an emphatic introduction to Lions at the Gate, a band you need to start paying attention to. ~ Brian Campbell