Review Summary: Unforeseen emptiness
There is no better way to kick-off the new year than to stumble upon the unexpected release of one of today's most praised death metal bands. Gatecreeper's An Unexpected Reality
thus bursts in 2021 without warning, taking everyone by surprise. Vocalist Chase Mason says the social media fried our attention spans in such a way that it makes no sense to keep the audience's attention for months before the release date. I doubt this non-promotional strategy will work either in full-length releases or in bands without media exposure, however, it seems appropriate to an EP with only seventeen minutes as An Unexpected Reality
, if only for the surprise it brings.
Gatecreeper's unexpected new offering is divided into two distinct parts, with the first being a seven-chapter deathgrind assault and the second an eleven-minute doom epic that will surely be regarded as one of the most iconic songs the band has ever recorded. Both segments are somewhat surprising, not because the lads are alien to either hardcore-ish or doom approaches, but for the fact that both materialize through straightforward signatures, without any kind of subtlety or stylistic fusion. The contrast between them is thus the most relevant aesthetic aspect to retain.
Neither the hardcore-ish onslaught nor the doomy 'Emptiness' bring anything new to the genre, yet both have the merit of being able to co-exist in common ground. While the former's straightforward nature highlights the ability to produce relentless deathgrind (within canons), the latter presents a more complex narrative that balances between various doom nuances. Its subtle crescendos and slow-paced fluctuations shape a melodramatic flow that drags us into a contemplative haze. The blend of funeral doom and Paradise Lost-esque gothic tones is masterfully accomplished, as well as the black metal hues that create an exciting emotional contrast in the second half of the song.
Despite its unchallenging nature, An Unexpected Reality
comes as an unforeseen surprise that illustrates two realities orbiting the same core. And if these seventeen minutes are an indicator of what's to come, I can't wait to dive into 2021.