Gatecreeper
Dark Superstition


4.1
excellent

Review

by Benjamin Jack STAFF
May 21st, 2024 | 125 replies


Release Date: 05/17/2024 | Tracklist

Review Summary: So much more than what you expect

With Gatecreeper you’re assured of three things: huge chunky riffs, abrasive vocals and thunderous production. TLDR: Dark Superstition is no exception in this regard. Thank you very much for your attention everyone, don’t let the gate hit you in the behind as you creep out! Realistically, of course, there was never much doubt upon Gatecreeper delivering on their hallmarks, but what is unexpected is just how revolutionised their methodology is here. After all, as the old adage proclaims, ‘expectations make an ex out of pecta and tions’, or however it goes. Indeed, the third full length release (and first under Nuclear Blast) from the Arizona quintet has something else to offer besides their usual spicy death metal shenanigans. It’s much more fluid and generally a much more digestible affair this time, eschewing a lot of the previously bludgeoning textures in favour of a heavily rock-influenced sound. Yeah, boo, hiss, muh junz etc etc. Don’t worry, it's all still liberally coated with the familiarly thick metallic tar that gives that satisfyingly flavourful death metal robustness; it simply offers much more in the way of structural refinement- structure that brims with creative riffs and infectious melodies that wriggle into your brain like N. fowleri, that is. This newer sound will take a little adjusting to, especially for those grinding their teeth in anticipation of that brutalisingly distinctive Gatecreeper brand of chaos, but despair not! Dark Superstition is a markedly tighter album all around, and has a longevity that eclipses even that of its impressive predecessors. What we have here is a collection of huge melodeath riffs flanked by almost industrially heavy percussion, all shot through with a hardcore edge and brooding doom sensibilities.

Dark Superstition plays as if the sound from previous Gatecreeper albums had been stretched out like a drumskin, bestowing it with a tighter, doomier feel but retaining the heaviness the band are known for. There’s the slowbuild trampling of ‘The Black Curtain’, the groovy abandon of ‘Caught In The Treads’, the galloping intensity of ‘Oblivion’ and ‘Mistaken For Dead’… it’s a collection far richer than anything the outfit has released previously. The band have evidently treated their last LP Deserted as a jumping off point to engineer something more multi-faceted, and as much of a departure as this release represents, it cannot be denied that the evolution exhibited is a genuinely organic one. Opener, ‘Dead Star’, lays intentions out immediately, with a huge, Cathedral-esque riff and tantalisingly cymbal-heavy drum patterns, creating an enveloping din that manages to be both epic but digestible, all drizzled with the signature Gatecreeper sauce. A heavily rock-influenced song structure and entertainingly dexterous solo give the piece extra dimensionality, and the thumping outro leads wonderfully into the remainder of the album. This is the LP’s main stylistic overtone, and it effectively develops throughout the album with a precision before now unseen in the band’s output. The aforementioned ‘Caught In The Treads’ employs a rattling percussion that punctuates the final throes of the song like a jangly machinal clank against the uproarious battle cries of the vocal, selling the atmospheric intensity with the startlingly nuanced conviction of the instrumentation. Such experimentation is found in almost all areas of Dark Superstition in ways big and small, but it all speaks to a band fearlessly progressing their style in new and engaging ways.

The release is informed by a conceptual preoccupation with the supernatural, and this is bolstered immensely by the consistently huge production that evokes ideas of cosmic scope wonderfully. The minute-to-minute fluxes between intensity and glacial broodiness dovetail exceptionally well in solidifying these themes, and allow the overall tone of sweeping, wretched grandeur to flavour the experience whilst the musicality remains anchored in subverted, old school death metal tropes. It all gels brilliantly and is always disarmingly catchy, with surprising lurches into chunky brashness that lodge themselves in the brain like an earworm pop composition. ‘Superstitious Vision’ is glorious in this regard- satisfyingly heavy but structurally reinforced by a lovely melodic riff that manages to balance urgency and beauty in an impressively powerful manner. There’s a newfound refinement to the songs in general, and, although the album is only a shade under the running time of Deserted, it feels far more concise. Supplanting a lot of the lengthier barrages of previous albums with riffs that contort like coiling snakes, there’s an intuitive musical interplay that extends beyond the hubris of the former knuckle-dragging Gatecreeper fare. Far less focus is placed upon creating an impenetrable onslaught of heaviness, and a far greater, pinpoint-accurate focus is levelled at more atmospheric, structurally conventional songwriting. Exemplifying this is the memorable closer, ‘Tears Fall From The Sky’; a morose, lengthy doom metal excursion with a turbulent melody and virulent death metal edge to offset the broodiness. A true album standout and one of the most intriguing songs of Gatecreeper’s career, it’s a fitting conclusion that encapsulates the album’s emphasis on detail and atmosphere working in tandem.

Dark Superstition is not what I expected, at all. I didn’t expect the sound to be so melodically refined, or to have as much of a lasting impact on me as it did- moreso than either Sonoran Deprivation or Deserted. Offering an impressive amount of staying power thanks to its cavalcade of memorable asides and licks, it has a tighter musical infrastructure and demonstrably more substance to its subject matter than anything the band has previously produced, retaining that unblinking aggression but purveying its themes through the music with remarkable care. Like many of the genre’s greats, there’s a palpable effort to burrow into a niche that lays groundwork for the future, but the high level of polish and individuality in sound ensures that these labours at no time feel misguided. Dark Superstition is a concoction that is less eye-watering to be sure, but also far more consistent, interesting, and catchy, whilst all the while keeping a firm handle on that leering menace that a Gatecreeper release simply could not be without. It’s a sharply produced, superbly written and riff-laden monster of an album that sets the band several steps ahead in their musical journey, in addition to affording them status as ones to watch on the scene (if any further confirmation was needed). Along with Coagulated Bliss, this is one of the finest examples of audacious sonic development in the genre in recent years. It’s not what I expected, but it’s what I wanted and so much more.



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user ratings (137)
3.6
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
PumpBoffBag
Staff Reviewer
May 21st 2024


1589 Comments

Album Rating: 4.1

Got damn, this is good

artificialbox
May 21st 2024


1901 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Fantastic review! Never been too into this band but I gave this a spin earlier today and absolutely loved it.

Mort.
May 21st 2024


25594 Comments


'After all, as the old adage proclaims, ‘expectations make an ex out of pecta and tions’'


is that latin?

PumpBoffBag
Staff Reviewer
May 21st 2024


1589 Comments

Album Rating: 4.1

Cheers lad, much love. Agreed this is such a wicked time, so relistenable

Sorry Mort, no idea…. with all your scholarly pursuits I was rather hoping you’d have an answer though?

Dedes
Contributing Reviewer
May 22nd 2024


10098 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

It's sumerian

evilford
May 22nd 2024


64758 Comments


Guess I should check this. Nothing they've done has really blown me away but sounds like this might be different

Gr8 rev

GhostShelter
May 22nd 2024


991 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Super fun banger of a record. For being a band that painted themselves into a corner early with their style, they’ve managed to tweak their sound in subtle ways throughout their tenure that keeps things fun and interesting. Fat booty riffs always present.

gregorgojira
May 22nd 2024


18 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

such a fantastic album, i've never has a year where so many AOTY contenders were in these first 5 months, gatecreeper continues to surprise

evilford
May 22nd 2024


64758 Comments


Wait when did the site hack happen? This guy joined last October ^^^

bellovddd
May 22nd 2024


6405 Comments


sweet band name

Spec
May 22nd 2024


39659 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Spotify really wants me to listen to this so heeere we go.

Spec
May 22nd 2024


39659 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

@evilford I don’t remember ask Colton, I’m sure he has an exact timeline.

Hawks
May 22nd 2024


89540 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Bout 2 jam ahrd.

conrom666
May 22nd 2024


1 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

While I enjoyed their previous work, as it was definitely competent OS Death Metal, as a huge Melodeath fan this is ticking all the boxes for me. The best time to have had this released was in the 90s but the second best time is now and I’m excited for it. Slaps/5

Hawks
May 22nd 2024


89540 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

This is good but y'all def overhyping lol.

metalphil
May 22nd 2024


765 Comments


Vocals remind me so much of Parkway Drive lol

Frost15
May 22nd 2024


3281 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I was gonna post exactly that @metaphil haha! They went full metalcore vocals with At the gates/In Flames guitar work and Entombed-esque production. A risky shift for sure but it's kinda nice. Could grow on me I think. it's definitely not worse than their previous output.

DDDeftoneDDD
May 22nd 2024


22430 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Just because its overhyped it doesn't mean its a 3...

Hawks
May 22nd 2024


89540 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Its the 3est 3 ever tbh.

DDDeftoneDDD
May 22nd 2024


22430 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Ahahah...no



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