Gatecreeper has returned for their second full-length feature Deserted after three years of touring and building a brand as one of the best bands in the resurgent American death metal scene. Honoring bands like Entombed, Dismember, Obituary, and Bolt Thrower with their style, Gatecreeper package hardcore punk influenced death and a melodic Stockholm sound into a sonic onslaught that sticks out.
With one of 2016’s finest albums, Sonoran Depravation paved the way for Gatecreeper to emerge from the deserts of Arizona and dropped a fucking megaton warhammer on the metal community. Critics and fans alike praised Gatecreeper for killer riffs that flowed together smoothly from one song to the next. Although they’re not presenting anything original, sometimes old formulas still work when done correctly by modern bands. For example, look at Power Trip, who Gatecreeper has toured with. They’re not exactly doing anything new either, but they take their old school crossover/thrash worship seriously from their attitude right down to nuances mixed in at the studio. That’s pretty much what Gatecreeper brings to the table, and this is why I believe that both of these bands will play a significant part in how metal shapes itself going into the 2020s.
Deserted picks up where their debut left off by fucking your skull with grooves that run through a procession of gloomy riffs. Drummer Matt Arrebolo rains hellfire down with precision, while vocalist Chase Mason conjures an encompassing death metal growl, which is mixed so nicely with an otherworldly atmosphere that is familiar to so many Swedish death metal fans. From time to time, Gatecreeper will lead you down an eerie bend, evoking that critical horror aura just before an eviscerating cacophony. If you have ever heard Entombed’s Left Hand Path, you know exactly what I mean. I half expected to hear a Phantasm sample on “Everlasting.” The band doesn’t deviate much from its very simple chemistry, but the result is quite pleasant.
Some people take their purest attitude to such an extent that they do not want to hear anything new which sounds like it is “ripping off” the old stuff. Many of these same folks are the types who will complain that there is no good new stuff, and some of them are even in bands that do the same thing just not as well. When it comes to “ripping off” old stuff, I think Gatecreeper does it better than anyone in the death metal scene, and by that I mean buy the album, buy the shirt, and go rage with them on tour.
Favorite tracks: “Everlasting”, “From The Ashes”, “Absence of Light”