(This is Andy Synn‘s review of the new album by the Arizona death metal band Gatecreeper, which has just been released by Relapse Records.)
I’ve been making my way through the Will Forte-led comedy/drama (dramedy?) series The Last Man On Earth recently, having missed out on it when it first aired.
This has very little to do with Gatecreeper, to be entirely honest, except to allow me to say that Deserted continues to prove that Death Metal is still “alive in Tucson”.
Now, I’ve already kicked up a fuss about how much great Death Metal has been released (and is still to come) this year, and Gatecreeper’s second album is a more than worthy addition to 2019’s bumper crop of bombastic brutality.
Of course, the Arizona quintet don’t really do anything particularly original or unique with their sound – which, this time around, goes for a less breakneck approach than their first full-length, marrying fetid Floridian foulness to a sinister Swedish slither that gives the album an overall darker hue – but they do it all with such grit and gusto that it feels a little churlish to demand that they reinvent the wheel at the same time.
Because, make no mistake about it, a good proportion of this album absolutely rips, originality be damned. Whether it’s the brooding, bruising, back-breaking slog of the title-track, the relentless riffery of “Puncture Wounds”, or the surprisingly melodic crowd-crusher of “From the Ashes” (and that’s just the album’s first three tracks) Deserted really showcases how strong Gatecreeper’s grasp of the classic Death Metal dynamic is.
Sure, there’s the occasional moment where things don’t quite add up to anything more than the sum of their obvious parts – although even if you wanted to be so uncharitable as to call this record a mere tribute to a bygone era I think you’d have to at least accept that it’s a very good one – but these are vastly outweighed by the album’s far more emphatic, and far more enjoyable, highlights.
Chief among these are the unexpectedly atmospheric, but still unfailingly heavy, “Everlasting” and the monstrous death-dirge of closer “Absence of Light”, both of which take full advantage of this album’s fuller, richer sound (especially when compared with its predecessor) to suggest that maybe, just maybe, Gatecreeper might be even better off playing things low and slow than they ever were at playing fast and nasty.
I know, I know, it’s blasphemy to even think such a thing. But the evidence is mounting up pretty quickly. So why not give it a listen for yourselves and then see if it changes your mind?