The Lowdown: While they may be considered one of the younger bands in the world of death metal, Gatecreeper have sure as hell made a name for themselves. Their 2016 debut LP, Sonoran Depravation, unleashed a vicious blend of death-thrash mayhem. Now, three years later, the Arizona outfit offers up the follow-up LP, Deserted.
The Good: On Deserted, Gatecreeper find inspiration in the form of Bolt Thrower and Crowbar; in turn, the result makes for a relentless grind of sludge-leaning, ominous death metal. The opening title track sets up the record’s predominant vibe, as the guitar tone emits a haze that layers on top of melodic drones. The vocals, bass, and drums bring a heft to the material, adding more physical aggression alongside the sinister guitar rhythm. Eventually the tempo picks up, though the song does maintain its atmospheric quality. On the following track, “Puncture Wound”, the band elevates its speed, driving the material forward to a steady, yet vibrant rhythm.
“From the Ashes” carries that sludgy haze while incorporating intriguing melody into the mix. “Everlasting” tosses in some fun technical elements, the drums pumping away as the guitars split off into sporadic moments. By the halfway point of Deserted, the speed picks up, adding a little more variety and freshening up the pace of the album. The LP is consistent in its dreary tone for the most part, allowing it to emit a tremendous sense of atmosphere. There’s an incredible heat coming off the material, adding a physicality to the music.
The Bad: Even with the impressive atmosphere, it would have been nice to see the band bring back some of the frenetic instrumentation that was present on Sonoran Depravation. There are some killer cuts throughout, but the material feels a tad restrained in comparison to what the band has done before. This focus doesn’t take away from the record’s creativity or brutality, but some additional variety would have been welcomed.
The Verdict: All that said, Gatecreeper have still put together a fine album full of adrenaline. While it would have been nice to hear a little more of that wild energy that was on Sonoran Depravation, the new LP makes for a solid sophomore effort. With its awesome gloomy atmosphere, made of pounding instrumentation and howling vocals, Deserted offers its own brand of death metal madness.
Essential Tracks: “From the Ashes”, “Boiled Over”, “Ruthless”, “In Chains”