With an EP and a handful of splits Gatecreeper get to show what they’re made of, in long form, on their full length debut Sonoran Depravation. It’s an interesting mix of Swedish and US based death metal that dangles the band’s feet precariously over the crowded throngs of the ‘everything old is new again’ bunch. And in order to do this successfully there has to be something that grabs a foothold quickly to keep the listener not only engaged but coming back. The grueling punch and melodic groove of this debut is more than enough to do exactly that.
To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with bringing back the past. Really it’s been a huge rush to get to relive old favorites through fresh takes. However, what normally happens goes something like this: initial spins are great but with a lack of anything much to latch onto said old school release ends up tossed aside as a rehash once the excitement of ‘man this sounds just like (insert old school band here)’ wanes. Originality takes one on the nose in this case and the album you thought was literally the second coming just isn’t all it was cracked up to be. Sad but true.
Gatecreeper could’ve easily fell into this same rut if it wasn’t for their insane ability to write a decent death metal song and to make it kick you in the chest cavity harder than Mirko ‘Cro Cop’ Filipovic. And yes, that right there was what stood out during the first few spins, the slam of the drums and thundering bass combined are the one-two knockout punch that made this album stick out very quickly. But also made for something that redirected attention back to it time and again. But that’s not all, the way these essential parts are written into each song would suggest a band that has spent years perfecting their form. “Sterilized” is that jam of HM2 pedals, Swedeath punk and Bolt Thrower muscle that death metal dreams have been made of since the beginning.
“Stronghold” speaks volumes for the murky heaviness that has long been a trademark in all things Swedish. But again, the ferocious bottom end bolts the listener to the track with loctite and refuses to let go. Plus, Chase Mason gives Martin van Drunen a run for his money in the gutturally flayed vocal department. On the other hand “Rotting As One” and “Flamethrower” are as melodically catchy and filthy as anything from the early wave of US death metal. The way Gatecreeper’s take on death metal reeks of open crypts, morbid scenes and zombies walking free is a tried and true formula to be honest. But when done this thoroughly enjoyable, as is the case with Sonoran Depravation, it forces you to stop and revel in it’s glory. And really no one could ask for much more.
On Sonoran Depravation, Gatecreeper have an album that speaks to the ghosts of death metal’s past but holds its own in keeping things interesting as well as extremely addictive. They’ve got that inexplicably heavy bottom end and through catchy songwriting the band comes across inexplicably nasty. It’s a highly anticipated album that fully delivers on the hype.