The 2010s saw a revitalisation of the old school death metal niche genre, with bands such as Tomb Mold, Blood Incantation, Genocide Pact and countless more releasing their debuts. Gatecreeper’s debut album, Sonoran Depravation, is in the crest of this 2010s death metal revival wave, showing off the best of the best of the new outbreak of the nearly 40-year-old genre.
The album builds on all their previous releases and rises above them, showing the world that the scene is alive and well in the midst of the Sonoran Desert. It inspires riffs as blistering and kvlt as anything out of Sweden or Norway, hooks as heavy as anything out of Florida and growls as wet and grisly as anything out of England. The album builds on every sound the band released prior to it and also shows that these masters of smaller releases have what it takes to take on the long-form release.
One of the reasons this band and album show off the genre so well is because the idea of the band’s sound is so clear in their head. In recent interviews, Chase Mason, frontman and founder of the band, has been tossing around the phrase “stadium death metal”. It’s now clear, looking back on hooks like the monster catchy riff from ‘Flamethrower’, that he’s been striving for that sound since the advent of the band.
Sonoran Depravation combines all these sounds and ideas of what makes death metal death metal and shows them off wondrously. The album starts with ‘Craving Flesh’, with the guitars showcasing the crushing riffs that Gatecreeper are known for. Throughout the entire album the band showcase wonderful use of harmony and trade offs of who plays the melody. ‘Sterilized’ has one guitar lead up to a riff in one ear then the other lead up to it in the other ear. Then later in that same song they use an entire second of silence between deafening sounds just to make sure you’re listening.
Gatecreeper proudly wear their influences on their sleeves. When this writer first heard of them, a few people were dismissing Sonoran Depravation as just a modern Left Hand Path. While the album shows off Gatecreeper’s love of Drop-B tuning, HM-2s and blastbeats, to call them a knock-off Entombed or Dismember is a disservice to all three bands.
Words: Grace Kelly