A great deal of hype has been building around the imminent full-length debut from Arizona’s Gatecreeper, a buildup that resembles that of Bölzer just a couple of years ago. Whether or not you feel that the hype around Bölzer was deserved, Gatecreeper have been touted by Relapse Records as the next big thing, and have already landed a coveted supporting slot on a tour anchored by some heavy hitters in Skeletonwitch and Iron Reagan.
Sonoran Depravation is Gatecreeper’s first full-length album, consisting of nine songs clocking in at just over a half hour. Is the hype justified? Well, maybe. What we have here is very solidly played death metal with more than a Swedish vibe to it (the HM-2 pedal is prominently featured), but Gatecreeper also add a touch of down tuned doom metal, d-beat, and crust. In short, Gatecreeper are probably an OSDM fanatic’s dream come to life as all of the elements that made the genre great are here and then some.
Gatecreeper are devastatingly heavy, but in a way that’s probably closer to Grave than to, say, Incantation. The tempo is generally a mid-paced gallop with the d-beat being emphasized; but, slower paced dirges make plenty of appearances and all of it is anchored by monumental riffs that will get your neck snapping.
Standout tracks include the opener “Craving Flesh,” as well as “Patriarchal Grip” and “Lost Forever,” songs that feature the slower pace as a focal point. However, the songwriting adds a great deal of variety throughout the album. About the only negative that I can say about Sonoran Depravation is that it feels a bit short at just over a half hour.
Ultimately, however, there’s nothing particularly original or groundbreaking about Gatecreeper. After all, it’s not called “old school” death metal for nothing. But, Gatecreeper do it extremely well, and Sonoran Depravation hints at possible greatness to come. Maybe.
(released October 7, 2016 on Relapse Records)