Gatecreeper – Sonoran Depravation (Relapse)

Friday, 23rd September 2016
Rating: 8/10

In the attempt to out-old school the rest of the death metal crowd, there’s often a few bands that manage to rise to the surface as one worth investigating. The latest to pop up in the ‘need to hear’ category of old school death metal worship is that of Arizona’s Gatecreeper. Building buzz from an EP and several recent splits, the time has come for the act to unleash their first full-length album. It does not disappoint.

Taking the perpetually copied buzzsaw attack of the Swedish greats, and combining it with the influences of other elder statesmen, Gatecreeper aren’t exactly running for the hills in terms of originality. But originality be damned if they can execute the style with this much finesse. Everything you love(d) about the old school metal sound is here and in full glory, as you’d expect. Crusty, buzzsaw guitars lead the way through a variety of tempos – from lumbering crawls to explosive blasts, Sonoran Depravation prefers to switch things up along the way. The energy level is kept high as the band marches through songs like “Rotting as One” and “Stronghold,” even with varied pacing, the vocals seem to add to the intensity. There’s also a subtle emphasis on melody, be it in monster riffs like “Sterilizing” or “Lost Forever,” or surfacing melodies like that of “Grotesque Operations.” Lastly, it may be old school in nature, but that doesn’t mean the production is stuck there, offering considerable bite while keeping just enough sludge in mind.

Proof that there’s still plenty of life left in the old school death metal formula if it’s used properly, Gatecreeper are worthy of the buzz bestowed upon them. Sonoaran Depravation may not be the most innovative release of the year, but it’s a ton of energetic fun that will bring you back again and again.

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