Album Review: GATECREEPER Sonoran Depravation
With some bands you can tell they are going to be good after only hearing their name. Enter, Gatecreeper. Since 2013, this wrecking crew from Arizona has been spitting fire on death metal, melting any traditional conception of death metal, and molding it into a unique product that continues to entertain even after the first sparks settle, while the lasting embers sparkle with every new breath cast in its direction.
Sonoran Depravation is the first full-length Gatecreeper has released. After an EP and three separate splits, Gatecreeper has finally forged a nine track disk that has the maturity of a veteran lineup, and a fresh outlook on death metal.
One of the major satisfactions in metal for myself is finding a band online, or through a friend, that is so good, it makes the rest of the genre look like high school kids trying too hard to get into a battle of the bands contest. Part of what sets Gatecreeper apart is the amount and quality of crusty grooves they crank out. Every song maintains intentional flow. The chug riddled riffs that not only brand the song, but marginalize any mundane or un-memorable aspects, keep the tracks flying by.
There is a tone and an identity that surfaces. It's not directly apparent, but once the groove settles the deeper mood rises. From the slow, filth riddled churn of a doom-like down tuned guitar tone, to the hardcore-like rapid vocal assault aimed at the perfect politically correct movement, this feeling is that of dismembering all bureaucratic foolishness while replacing it with raw reality of reason. There is more attitude and grit in Sonoran Depravation, than most intentionally infused and attempted grindcore/powerviolence bands out there. The beauty is that it comes naturally.
"Grotesque Operation" is the closing track on this album, and one of my favorites. The slower paced grind and groove of the main riffs, coupled with the tight sounding rasp of the beefy vocals, calls for a temperamental edgy feel while flowing to a melody that mirrors itself against the anger fueled rage, keeping a lid on the building pressure of fury that is never released.
This theme of controlled rage is evident through the entire album. Borrowing an older school death metal sound, aspects of hardcore, and classic death metal structure is a good mix for the amount of groove and confident passages carved throughout. Clearly there is a strong identity, which is harder to find these days in metal. Borrowing sounds and concepts are common and inescapable, so when originality is still present and obviously crushing your face in, do not ignore it.
There is hardly anything negative to say about Sonoran Depravation. If I were to get picky, I would complain about the length of the album, or the lack of diversity in the drums. It's difficult to hold it against the album as a whole though, since the overall product is a very satisfying experience, and an album that will be revisited by myself many times in the future.