Iron Reagan, Gatecreeper smash their dueling metallic styles on raucous, punishing split release

There’s no reason to wax poetic today about an album that simply exists to make your hearing that much worse, your psyche that much more fringed. Sometimes I get tired of trying to pin a record to a particular theme or life event, so today we have something that just turns on the demolition switch and watches you get caught in the gears.

The union of political thrashers Iron Reagan and death merchants Gatecreeper is an intriguing idea, one that combines two of the more heralded underground acts of the past few years, both housed under the Relapse umbrella. Their new split release brings eight tracks barreling toward you in a nice, concise package that doesn’t take long to absorb but still leaves you properly damaged. It’s a nice collection not only because the content is strong but also because these two bands really could not be more different in sound and approach. Iron Reagan’s thrash-infested madness has crushed us for the past six years now, with three full-lengths in tow, including last year’s killer “Crossover Ministry.” As for Gatecreeper, they’ve been at their furious approach to death metal only a year shorter than their split mates, and their massive debut record “Sonoran Deprivation” has been out for a couple years now, so we should be due for a longer platter from them. It’s a nice mix, and it keeps it interesting.

Iron Reagan’s helping kicks off with “Warning” that has a spirited open, with Tony Foresta’s vocals practically spat out, with him later, grimly, figuring, “We’re going to die,” as he and the band get on violently about what might happen if people sit on their asses waiting for change. “Paper Shredder” gleefully takes aim at governmental cover-ups, with the band gang shouting “shred!” while the song goes much in the way of a classic Exodus jam. “Take the Fall” is heavy as fuck, with the band trying cut away at the ultimate truth behind the lies we’re told, with Foresta declaring, “Exposure to truth exposes all!” “Proudly Unaccountable” is a blast that speeds by in less than a minute, with the guitars slicing limbs, the vocals crushing, and the drums leaving things in dust. Their last salvo is “Burn for This,” a track that erupts and destroys, with Foresta warning, “No one gets out alive!” It’s thashy and bloody and ends on a razor-sharp burst of soloing.

Gatecreeper get started with “Daybreak (Intro),” an instrumental piece that unloads slowly grinding misery and horrifying intentions, as the guitars bleed and drain into the mouth of “Dead Inside” that immediately gets bones crunching. Grisly growls are unleashed, while the guitars light up and cause a blinding glare, and the back-end thrashes heavily. The track gets uglier, yet more melodic as it stretches on, before things come to a neck-breaking, abrupt finish. “War Has Begun” caps off their offerings, as guitars cut through like a freshly sharpened scythe, and then the pace is ripped apart. The tempo is furious and mean, as gut-wrenching hell explodes, and the leads begins to tangle dangerously. Guttural growls and smothering guitars well up and threaten, while the song hammers for a final time before things are laid to rest.

This split combining Iron Reagan and Gatecreeper is a concise, blistering, fun release that gives you a good taste of what each band brings to the table. The combo of political thrash and punishing death metal might not seem a match, but these bands’ music actually sounds pretty good together, perhaps paving the way for a future tour as mates. If nothing else, we have this package that aims to beat the shit out of you and leave you a heaving heap.

For more on Iron Reagan, go here: https://www.facebook.com/IRONREAGAN

For more on Gatecreeper, go here: https://www.facebook.com/gatecreeper

To buy the album, go here: https://store.relapse.com/

For more on the label, go here: https://www.facebook.com/RelapseRecords