REVIEW: GATECREEPER – “Sonoran Depravation”
The American death metal band Gatecreeper from Arizona will release their debut album ‘Sonoran Depravation’ on 7th October via Relapse Records. They, having devastated the underground since their formation less than three years ago, are ready to unleash es their first full-length album. It starts with “Craving Flesh” and a bulldozer of powerful guitar sound, a slab of old school death metal and some catchy melodies at the ending. What a fine, brutal beginning of a record! “Sterilized”, the next song, kicks ass with powerful riffs, much like the track before. Short, and like a punch in the face, is the next trac,k “Desperation”. The main riff in the middle is groovy and catchy, a fine variety within the first track, but quite similar.
“Rotting As One” continues the style of the band in a fine way. A surprise for me: I could perceive the first explicit lead guitar of the record. So far, I missed such kind of instrumental interplay on the record. “Stronghold” is the same thing again. Not better and not worse as before, quite solid (old-school) death metal. The next track starts with a new kind of intro: evil single-note riff with brutal drumming, which is nice! “Lost Forever” keeps the mouth corners down and keeps the head shaking. At this point, the overall sound shows its full, brutal sheen. This track is maybe the most headbang-worthy track of the record. “Flamethrower” has a very groovy intro/main riff and chords in the middle of the song. It seems that the last track builds a contrast to the quite similar tracks before. This last track, “Grotesque Operations”, is the longest one. The first (and unfortunately last time) I could perceive a suspension curve within a song. The intro is slow and kind of sludgy followed by mighty riffs and lead melodies in the middle of the song. Over time, the powerfulness fades out like the song itself. Quite simple, but still fine. This track is my personal highlight of the record.
In respect to the sound of the record: I really like the guitar sound. It’s sludgy, muddy and filthy, but clear and powerful. This give the album a specific evil atmosphere appropriate to the voice of the singer. The drums fit very nicely in the sound, too, even if the bass drum sounds a bit synthetic in comparison to the rest of the “handmade sound” of the album. The last thing I miss a bit about the sound is the bass guitar. Yes, I know, it’s a death metal record, but I have the feeling that the guys could do more about the bass guitar. I’m not sure if this is a point about the songwriting or the mix, but so what… I complain on a higher level now. Overall, it’s a brutal and powerful sound.
Gatecreeper did a great job on this first album. The package of mighty death metal riffs and the few interplays of the instruments are fun, even if they could do with some more arrangements for the songs. But okay, Gatecreeper followed the old-school death metal path, as it seems, and they did it quite well in general. I think that the guys could do more about the songwriting and details in songs, like in the last track, especially in the first half of the album that sounds quite similar. Nevertheless, fans of death metal should listen to this… I recommend it. I think we’ll hear more about the band the next time around and I look forward to the next album of Gatecreeper!