Gatecreeper’s debut album Sonoran Depravation released in 2016 was my favourite album of that year and I have been eagerly awaiting this record to the extent that I have had no fingernails left in the last couple of years. Having interviewed Chase before their gig at the Glasgow Audio, I have been a huge fan of Gatecreeper and have had the opportunity to review a few of their already extensive back catalogue for Moshville Times. Before my interview with Chase, I walked up and down the street of the venue for thirty minutes because I thought, with having the world at their feet, Chase and Gatecreeper wouldn’t have time for some twat from Glasgow wanting to interview him. What I found was a thorough gentleman in Chase, who was more than happy to talk about music because he is a music fan first and foremost. We got talking about the old gods of death metal and how they have influenced Gatecreeper’s sound and it is here where Gatecreeper and only a few others who claim to be worshippers of old school death metal can pull it off consistently with their output. Gatecreeper carry off the old school sound in spades and will help keep the fested corpse that is death metal rotting for some years to come.
When I listened to opener and title track “Deserted”, I let off a resounding “FFFFUUUCCCCKKKKK!!!!” as this is quite simply the shit. It’s not that they are original, they don’t want to be, but it’s the overall atmosphere and aura that this and every song creates that makes it superior. Mixing old Stockholm death metal with Dismember, Entombed, Carnage and Grave but also throwing a bit of UK’s very own Bolt Thrower, should give you an idea of how this sounds. Nothing original but just death metal the way it was in 1990. I crave for this music and Gatecreeper excel in this. There is still the Dismember type melody throughout the opening track but if you want crushing, and I mean crushing, riffs with mid-paced drumming and frenetic double bass, “Deserted” is the track for you. Before I move onto the rest of the album, the sound and production of this album is stellar and brings out the best in everything Gatecreeper have to offer.
Other neck snapping tunes like “From the Ashes” just ooze class. Riffs and melodies from Eric and Nate are sublime and reminiscent of Massive Killing Capacity era Dismember in this track and with Chase sounding even more guttural and incoherent as ever, this is majestic stuff. Funny how the worst Dismember album in my opinion actually sounds this good. For being two albums in their discography, their writing skills are as tight as ever and a breath of fresh air in a somewhat saturated death metal scene.
“Ruthless” has some Obituary influences, especially at the beginning of the song which had me thinking of “I’m in Pain” from The End Complete for some reason. the riffs from Eric and Nate would have to be slow chugging and powerful and that is exactly what they are, leaving a tingle down your spine. Chase would also have to make his growl as low and heavy as he could get it and that’s exactly what he does with this track and throughout the whole album. “Everlasting” is stunningly powerful even although it is slow and mid paced at best. There are Asphyx influences all through this with Chase sounding at his lowest here. The guitars once again, while not technical, are what death metal used to be and that’s punishing. Never mind playing songs at 100mph where it makes much more sense to play riffs in this chugging style and leave a lasting impression. The double bass from drummer Matt and foundations laying waste with his compatriot Sean is devilishly heavy and shows how tight this partnership is.
There is much more of a doomy slower feel to the second half of the album but tracks like “Sweltering Madness” again emphasise the power this band has. It’s not My Dying Bride worship or anything like that, more slower Bolt Thrower and Hail of Bullets. This is so much heavier than the debut and so much darker. Can this five piece be even angrier than they were on Sonoran Depravation? It appears so. “In Chains” picks the speed up again like “Lost Forever” did in Sonoran Depravation as it mixes pace with head banging and neck snappuing riffs and drum beats. A most welcome return is guitar leads and something that I do feel could be used more in previous songs as they are both clearly accomplished musicians.
“Absence of Light” has to be a strong ending for you to press repeat and listen to the whole album again. Again, Gatecreeper have slowed the speed down to a crawl which is taking it to the verge of melodic death metal which is not a criticism as there are really nice melodies once again. I like this album enough to have repeat spins anyway and I am pleased to report that Gatecreeper with Deserted will have a few more doors open for them that will keep them on the road for longer tours and more exposure. Gatecreeper are a band that deserve everything that they get and success will come to them with releasing as strong an album as Deserted is. I look forward to seeing them on the road sometime soon.
Deserted is out now