Gatecreeper is a force to be reckoned with. After releasing the oppressively heavy debut, Sonoran Depravation in 2016 and endless touring, the band stayed active with a live album, an EP, and two other splits. Never does Gatecreeper take a moment to look at their watch and wonder what is next for their time is seemingly always devoted to the preservation of Death Metal aesthetics, the glory of it all, whether playing to a thousand people or convening at the studio to lay down tracks. Resolute, resilient, and relentless in their pursuit of excellence, the band have committed themselves to provide only their best Death Metal to the masses.
One listen (or, in my case, many listens) is enough to appreciate just how well the band have married the idea of crafting a quality song and providing it with all the resplendent trimmings of Death Metal’s best a la their absolutely pulverizing guitar tone. When listening to Deserted, one even has to reevaluate things every once in a while, because the sound so closely resembles the rumble of the early cassette tapes of my own Death Metal collection, a time ruled by Entombed, Morbid Angel, and Carcass. It is as if Gatecreeper have taken those days and fastened them to the present thereby canceling any of the past that is not intended to be conveyed. When making music, time is one of the ways in which the mood can be synthetically manipulated.
Listening to the album is a rewarding experience and extends itself to other parts of the day with its long-lasting impression. Its vibe is one that is certainly malleable and can be adjusted to mood and disposition. The point is that no matter the baggage accompanying the listener, the album speaks to each in a universal language that can also be personal. One simply has to be open to the idea of restorative music; magic created by art to redeem one’s mood.
Deserted comes out of the gate swinging powerfully with the title track serving as an ideal opening statement. This is Death Metal as an art form indeed and the band have widened the scope. “Puncture Wounds” follows and by using a tried and true formula, the band manages to maintain the intensity propelled by the first track. Gatecreeper know how to let a chord breathe.
How is this mighty, über titan of a sound created? Though I am no studio master, far from it, I can, however, describe the sound in detail to provide a proper explanation of the production. Rhythmically, the aggressive pep behind the drummer’s technique is carefully calibrated with this release. The drum sound is absolutely huge with a billowing pulse that keeps things moving efficiently. The guitar and bass sounds melt into each other. Being tuned so low, the band compensates with very deliberate chords that allow the notes to, therefore, hang in the air. The tone is very Stockholm 1990s, though a bit cleaner if not just for the advancement of gear since that time. That marriage of a very recognizable guitar sound and forward-marching percussion lends itself to the overwhelming impact that the sound has upon the listener. It attached itself to an initial comfort zone that allows it to lead the listeners through a caravan of thought, idea, and dream.
“From the Ashes,” the third track, uses the same frame work to create a great Death Metal song that helped Entombed along the way. The riffs are low, detuned, and grimy and by letting them ring out as they do, the band extends the atmosphere. The interlude in the latter half of the song is a melodic section that becomes ingrained in the mind like a classic Paradise Lost song. The fifth track, “Everlasting,” is another fine offering made more stout with the careful guitar harmonies created. it is mostly a straight forward Death Metal track but like so many classics such as the established legacy of Bolt Thrower, simple, heavy guitar parts can be subtly manipulated and stretched to gain much more scope. “Sweltering Madness,” the seventh track, features the band weaving a richly decorated tapestry of sound that serves to fully envelop the listener. The insanity is palpable, deadly, lethal.
There have been more than a few quality Death Metal albums released this year. Among the elite few to be lauded as truly memorable is Deserted by Gatecreeper. Ultimately, it is a tour de force from a band determined to climb to the top of the genre.