Tuesday 22 November 2016

Gatecreeper - Sonoran Depravation


1. Craving Flesh
2. Sterilized
3. Desperation
4. Rotting As One
5. Stronghold
6. Patriarchal Grip
7. Lost Forever
8. Flamethrower
9. Grotesque Operations

It's great to see band's that you've reviewed in the past, when they were on their first demo/EP, getting  noticed and going onto bigger things. That's what's happened to Arizona's Gatecreeper. I was lucky enough to be able to review their debut self-titled EP back in 2014 and since then they've released three split records and have been snapped up by Relapse Records, which has culminated in the release of their debut full-length. They're playing Power Of The Riff in L.A. in December, supporting the mighty Neurosis. The death metal housed within this record has been getting rave reviews too, so I'm not gonna waste any more time writing this intro...

It seems as though Gatekeeper has taken on a whole new level of heavy. Craving Flesh opens "Sonoran Depravation" with old-school blasts, crushing guitars and low-growls that come straight from the pit of the stomach (or hell depending on your persuasion). There’s a martial industrial thing going on during Sterilized, which seems kind of apt considering the title. It’s label with groove during the opening bars before giving way to pit-inducing hardcore. The mid-paced tempo doesn’t even dilute it. Thankfully though, you don’t have to wait long for something altogether faster, Desperation sees Gatecreeper taking their death/grind peers head-on and winning thanks to menacing lead riffs and a stench of Death (the band). I was bowled over when I first head Noisem’s debut album and while Gatekeeper come from a less thrashy angle, the feeling is still the same when listening to this. Rotting As One is the sort of the song that will put an evil grin on your face and a glint in your eye. Everything just gets heavier on Stronghold, though I’m not sure how that’s possible. The twin-guitar harmonies give a nice nod to heavy metal’s past as well. The Sonoran Desert is a pretty inhospitable place and that must have surely provided some inspiration for Patriarchal Grip. It’s creeping riffs and squalid feedback are all too nightmarish. The whirlwind that grows out of it is equally as horrid, with ridiculous double-bass drumming and buzzsaw-guitars. It’s hard to images being Lost Forever, but you’ll catch a glimpse of the madness that will engulf you if you do by listening to the song. It’s a modern masterpiece of heavy precision. If Metallica were to replace James Hetfield with Jeff Walker from Carcass, what’s created may sound something like Flamethrower. As cheesy as that statement may sound, it’s not too inaccurate given the thrash-like overtones of the song. Gatecreeper doesn’t take their foot off the gas on closing song Grotesque Operations either. They hammer their point home with power and aggression, as well as a whole lot of atmosphere. It’s not often that a band unleashes and debut full-length with this kind of power and impact. Gatekeeper deserves all the praise they are getting and more. No posing or posturing here, just straight-up riff worship and heavy times.

Stream "Sonoran Depravation" and grab it digitally, on cd and on vinyl below:-

Gatecreeper Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/gatecreeper/
Relapse Records Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/RelapseRecords

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