Desert death unit Gatecreeper spread horrific, thrashy power on debut ‘Sonoran Deprivation’

Photo by Hayley Rippy

Photo by Hayley Rippy

The other night, the evening sky was a warm autumnal orange, splashed with a little bit of purple. It was ideal, and the fact that the wife unit was inside the house decorating for Halloween made the season and the display outside perfect. It made me think I wanted something musically that would suit the mood, and I realized I had just the thing.

Arizona-based death metal band Gatecreeper not only had the perfect brand of death metal for what I was seeking, but the cover of their debut record “Sonoran Deprivation” even matched the colors I was seeing on the horizon. The band’s horrific, spectacularly played death metal is just right for this time of the year when the chill is in the air and decay creeps across the land and all the way to the top of our trees. Sure, the title may be calling back to the desert region that spans across their stomping grounds, but there’s just as much terror and violence that it also can remind of slasher film bloodshed. If you’re not much for the imagery the music conjures (at least to me), you simply can revel in the fact this is raucous, drubbing death that always goes down right, even if sickens the belly.

gatecreeper-coverGatecreeper have been together for just three years now, but they’ve already done a nice bit of damage before this debut record landed. They released a self-titled EP a year after they congealed, and since then they’ve been a part of three split efforts, joining the likes of Take Over and Destroy, Young and in the Way, Home Wrecker, Outer Heaven, and Scorched. The band’s power spreading across the underground obviously caught the attention of Relapse Records, who are releasing “Sonoran Deprivation,” and the band—vocalist Chase H. Mason, guitarists Eric Wagner and Nate Garrett (Spirit Adrift), bassist Sean Mears, and drummer Metal Matt—clearly have been sharpening their teeth and their chops as they get ready to incinerate the world on this nine-track, 31-minute slasher.

You can’t top an opening song called “Craving Flesh” as it punches hard, with harsh barks that have a slight hardcore edge to them. The guitars burn and slither, while the pace slows but hammers before reigniting and blasting to the finish. “Sterilized” has a churning opening, with vicious growls, a trudging pace, and the doom smudge lowering. Fiery leads erupt before everything ends in smoke. “Desperation” is a quick one, but it’ll bloody your nose. Noise hangs in the air before the tempo detonates, spreading misery all over its nearly two-minute run time. “Rotting as One” is thrashing and mean, with raspy howls, poisonous leads, and overall evil intent. The back end of the track smears blood right into “Stronghold,” where riffs begin pelting the flesh. The guitar work chews bones, while the drums absolutely devastate, as the song grinds to an ugly, brutal ending.

“Patriarchal Grip” spills doom like tar, while the terror bleeds into the picture, and the noise makes your ears rings. The song tears apart and spills the guts, as the band stomps the ground to dust while infernal growls fill your lungs. Strong riffs and barked grunts clobber, and then the final moments bring a cataclysmic ending. “Lost Forever” is crunchy as hell, with raw growls scraping at the flesh and the music mashing. The track is blistering and chaotic, completely clobbering the senses. “Flamethrower” has a kick-ass, Euro-style death opening, sounding like the glorious early ’90s, while the song rumbles and rages, treating you to a track that should make you relish the roots of this style of music. Closer “Grotesque Operations” is the longest cut at 5:44, beginning by lowering the doom drapes and then lighting them aflame. The speedy assault then moves into meaty thrashing before returning to thick fog that hangs in the atmosphere. Riffs roll out of that and land body blows right up to the final moment.

Gatecreeper’s “Sonoran Deprivation” is a really promising debut record, and this band’s brand of European-slashed death metal sounds sinister and destructive. The power and precision with which they play this stuff is infectious, and their extra doses of doom and thrash strengthens their assault. This is ideal death to play on loop as the nighttime gets creepier and the seasonal decay bleeds into the outside world.

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