By Craig Hayes. Now that Bolt Thrower has been officially laid to rest, I guess it’s only a matter of time before every death metal whippersnapper wielding a few warmongering riffs is going to be hailed as the inheritor of Bolt Thrower’s crown.By Craig Hayes.
|Artwork by Adam Burke|
Now that Bolt Thrower has been officially laid to rest, I guess it’s only a matter of time before every death metal whippersnapper wielding a few warmongering riffs is going to be hailed as the inheritor of Bolt Thrower’s crown. Truth is, no one is ever going to come close to occupying Bolt Thrower’s position in the pantheon of death metal. Nor are they going to better the buzzsaw blitzkrieg of Nihilist, Dismember, Grave, or early-Entombed and Obituary. Those bands laid unshakeable musical foundations. But that doesn’t mean a young band can’t plant their flag in the soil, raise the axes, and strive to cleave and disembowel like Bolt Thrower at their best.
That’s pretty much what Arizonian death metallers Gatecreeper have done on their storming debut, Sonoran Depravation. Gatecreeper’s first full-length contains nine tracks of bruising, low-end death metal that’s delivered with a thick old school accent –– so that’s check, check and check in the influenced by Bolt Thrower box. Gatecreeper also gouge giant doom-drenched grooves on Sonoran Depravation, and that ensures the album is catchy as hell (check and check, again). There’s also a heap of ye olde HM-2 fireworks to enjoy on trampling tracks like “Craving Flesh”, “Sterilizing” and “Patriarchal Grip”. And with Sonoran Depravation being produced by Ryan Bram, and mixed by famed studio wizard Kurt Ballou, neck-breaking songs like “Rotting As One”, “Flamethrower”, and album closer, “Grotesque Operations”, hit like a tonne of fucking bricks.
All of those elements above are reasons why Gatecreeper’s first full-length is a roaring success. But none of them are the prime reason why it utterly smokes the underground competition. What really makes Sonoran Depravation such a sterling debut is its clear crossover appeal. In fact, if you’re looking for the chief connection to a band like Bolt Thrower (or plenty of other death metal progenitors, for that matter) then you only need note that Gatecreeper’s sound features a mountain of sledgehammering crust.
Now, admittedly, I am totally biased in deciding that Gatecreeper's punked-up punch is their best attribute. I just happen to love filthy death metal that’s indebted to vintage crust and hardcore (see Bolt Thrower’s smashing debut, In Battle There Is No Law!). There's a reason why Bolt Thrower are the death metal band that punks respect most. It’s because they cut the bullshit, and got straight to the pummelling and punishing point, and Gatecreeper do exactly the same.
Gatecreeper sets the dial on 11 throughout Sonoran Depravation, and rages from the very first second to the very last, and it’s all jam-packed with a frenzied sound and attitude that’s seen Gatecreeper understandably find fans in both the metal and punk camps. No question, Bolt Thrower’s crown will always remain untouchable. But there’s also no question that when a band like Gatecreeper brings heavy duty weaponry like Sonoran Depravation into battle, they can stand proudly alongside the toughest and most iconic warriors on the shield wall.