Review Summary: Let your soul boil eternally
Since I heard the single "Boiled Over", Gatecreeper's sophomore album Deserted
was automatically scheduled to be one of my early October jams. To keep things simple, Arizona's death squad regurgitates an old-school style that swings between Bolt Thrower and chainsaw pioneers Entombed, while also incorporating some Celtic Frost aesthetics, which adds a particular twist to their sound. The band reaches 2019 with an album, two EP's, and several splits under their belt, establishing themselves as one of the most solid American old school death metal acts of the second half of the decade. Although I've already heard some tracks from these Arizona's creepers, it was only after "Boiled Over" came out that I was really interested in exploring the band's discography, which I found interesting and worthy of recognition by the underground OSDM community.
The first thing that stands out in Deserted
is its more polished sound compared to previous releases, revealing the band aim to take a step forward, thus showing a greater maturity in its stylistic approach. This evolution, however, doesn't give up either the band's DNA or its main influences, which remain well present, but with a slightly different appearance, as a style facelift that embodies the band's aesthetics in 2019. Gatecreeper's praise for Celtic Frost is still present in songs such as "Ruthless" or "Sweltering Madness", which proudly carry the avant-garde old school spirit, yet always shaped around the band's signature, without ever being a cheap, purposeless copy paste. The Left Hand Path-esque chainsaw also remains ubiquitous, but now with a less Sunlight Studios' tone, thereby adding greater personality to its sound. The band is in its full artistic maturity, feeling broadly comfortable with its current musical signature, which explores numerous textures orbiting a common core. The stormy Slayer-esque "Puncture Wounds", and the following "From the Ashes", which features a melody reminiscent of Running Wild, are two good examples of this diversity. This kind of contrast is proof of the band's wider range. We never feel stagnation or monotony in Deserted
, the songs were meticulously arranged in order to create different pulsations throughout the album. The opener title track is the first indicator of this stylistic diversity, which extends to songs such as "Everlasting", "In Chains" or "Boiled Over", which are not limited to a one-dimensional output, the latter featuring the album's most memorable riff. Despite its greater diversity, Gatecreeper's straightforward approach hasn't been disregarded, as we can hear in "Barbaric Pleasures", that mirrors an interesting simplicity and the band's concern with bridging the past. The doom signature is another constant in Deserted
, a structural element present in almost every song, assigning density and atmosphere to the overall aesthetic, that is also enhanced by an excellent production, which brings out the massive rhythmic section, that sometimes sounds like a well-oiled pneumatic hammer.
is a multifaceted creature that mirrors a band at its creative peak. It's a lament that boils slowly until it's finally swallowed by time and desolation, but its echo will endure as one of the greatest death metal moments of 2019.