13 January 2021

ALBUM REVIEW: Gatecreeper – An Unexpected Reality

A surprise release from Arizona’s Gatecreeper dropped today via Closed Casket Activities, which gives us a short but very sweet dose of heavy to keep our spirits high.

Usually, Gatecreeper are found knocking out some seriously top-notch “old-school but new-school” death metal which if that is something you are into, go and check out their ‘Deserted’ album (courtesy of Relapse Records) right away. However, ‘An Unexpected Reality’ gives us a new side to Gatecreeper, or rather, two new sides.

Total run time comes in at just under 18 minutes long and the first seven of those tracks never breach the 1:12 minute mark and are substantially different in character to the final 11-minute epic track. Just by knowing the track lengths we know we are in for a very different record and upon first listen we can immediately hear some grindcore traits heavily influencing these seven tracks. Despite the shorter durations however, this does certainly not mean the band lets up on their quality of powerful, groovy riffs, ‘Rusted Gold’ and ‘Imposter Syndrome’ have great examples of this. We also see some blast beats slotted in every now and then which helps to further diversify from their back catalogue; ‘Depraved Not Deprived’ is a crushingly intense and tightly wound track that the blast beats take centre stage on.

According to a statement by vocalist Chad Mason, this type of album has always been something he and Gatecreeper would like to do, by taking a lot of inspiration from Black Flag’s ‘My War’ and how that record has two very distinct sides to it. With this in mind and the virus hitting Arizona pretty hard which halted all of their touring plans, it seemed to be the perfect time to cook up such a record. ‘An Unexpected Reality’ is also cited as not quite a full-length record, but something of a stepping stone record for the band and it gives them some flexibility going forward musically.

Drawing a close to the album, we come to a mighty 11-minute chunk of doom metal. ‘Emptiness’ opens with some much slower guitar chords ringing out ominously that immediately sets a chilling atmosphere. From here we get waves of overpowering guitars, punchy drums and an incredibly potent vocal performance throughout. Towards the end we encounter a majestic build-up to some beautifully melancholic harmonising guitars which evolves into a huge finale that is quite staggering; you really must hear it to get the scale of it!

Gatecreeper have delivered an excellent musical evolution in the form of seven visceral grindcore tracks and one hefty doom track. Go and check out ‘An Unexpected Reality’ right away and be sure to check out their previous records as you will get a flavour for Gatecreeper’s death metal masterclass.

Rating:

(4 / 5)

Highlights: ‘Rusted Gold’ – ‘Depraved Not Deprived’ – ‘Emptiness’

Album Released: 13/01/2021 via Closed Casket Activities – order here.

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