October 4, 2019 Gatecreeper – Deserted (Album Review)
Gatecreeper, spawned from the hottest hell of Arizona, are back with their brand new album, Deserted, due out Friday, October 4th through Relapse Records.
It should be best to mention early how this band shares members with fellow wanderers Spirit Adrift, namely Vocalist Chase Mason (who plays bass with Spirit Adrift) and Guitarist Nate Garrett (who plays everything in studio and handles guitar and vocals on stage). Stretched from the baked plains of Phoenix, the band is not above gallows humor; behind the obvious title Deserted—which comes after their equally bleak 2016 debut Sonoran Depravation—song titles like “Boiled Over” and “Sweltering Madness” help set the scene.
The band proudly wears their influences on their sand-caked sleeves, and from that milieu bursts a far-reaching collection that spans several genres. Quite frankly, they cast a wide berth in terms of talent, influences, and direction. Obituary and Six Feet Under are some of the more apparent vices, especially early on, while Swedish legends Grave also seep into a number of the song structures; even somewhat esoteric Australian bands like Disembowelment and Paramaecium find their way into the finished product. The guttural vocals are less caustic than one would expect from a death metal effort, though no less disturbing, and when combined with the melodic sensibilities of the tracks, Deserted feels like a joyful death ride that could almost be shelved facing the Doom Metal records.
Complete with ten songs, the opening title-track is a wailing requiem that obtrudes fast guitar with craggy drums that keep the pace alternating between breakneck and funeral, depending on which instrument is in focus. The guitar solos here are a nice touch, and set the mood for the remainder of the album—there will be hell to pay, and, as expected, it will be hot and miserable. Few bands come out of Arizona, because those that do, stay out. “Everlasting” arrives with an opening riff is a bit outside the death realm, one which instead inches toward the rigidity of a style more technical or progressive, a feeling not even the deeply growl vocals nor the haunting closing solo can allay.
Later, the breakdown midway through “Barbaric Pleasures” glances in the direction of Paramaecium, while “Sweltering Madness” tears some flesh from Cannibal Corpse. There are also crumbles of atmosphere from the aforementioned Disembowelment, especially in terms of pace and vocals, and within the closer in particular. This is while the hip speed of “Puncture Wounds” offers the fastest song on the album, and it not un-coincidentally has the shortest run time, just under three minutes. Another rollickingly upbeat headbanger is “From the Ashes,” replete with clean lead guitar that spends a few bars screaming off into the distance. The track eventually breathes to a halt, as this album is wont to do, before picking up steam for a brusque closure.
Later on “Absence of Light” brings a somber close to the effort, with a main riff and overall embodiment that could easily fit snugly amongst the dreariest offerings of the early ’90s Peaceville roster. Gatecreeper manage to keep a dark undercurrent of strong, steady Death Metal, interlace their various influences and forebears, while blanketing the entire effort with unique touches and challenging direction.
Lastly, the extra gift from Gatecreeper is “Anxiety,” a cut which was released as an Adult Swim single earlier in the year and appears here as a bonus track; fairly up-tempo compared to the ending tracks of Deserted, it does reach a slow, head-banging groove midway through; the grating, high-pitched squeal of guitar is a nice ending.
Gatecreeper had a tall order in following an impressive debut in Sonoran Depravation, and they answer in spades. Deserted is as dense, melodic, light, obvious, and cryptic as fans would expect, and anyone new to their vices is sure to be hooked immediately through the chops, songwriting, and sheer talent within the ranks. That is why Cryptic Rock is pleased give Deserted 4 out of 5 stars.