ALBUM REVIEW: Gatecreeper - Dark Superstition

ALBUM REVIEW: Gatecreeper - Dark Superstition
Photo Credit: Perri Leigh

Arizona's Gatecreeper have taken the emptiness of the desert with them throughout the band's heavy and brutal sound. Using that inspiration to create their brand of dark and hopeless death metal since 2013. With the release of the band's third album Dark Superstition, their Nuclear Blast debut and first album in five years, the band has found a way to take elements from their previous albums and create a record that is a perfect blend of their past and present. Creating and breathing new life into the band's experimentation with death metal. Does Dark Superstition lead to a positive prediction and wet the fan's appetite after the long wait?

The album opens with "Dead Star". With a pulsing double bass, and classic sounding melodic death metal riff, the song starts with a death n roll/melo-death fusion. Chase H. Mason's deep growls have such snarl and grit over the main riff. Israel Garza and Eric Wagner's chugging guitars throughout the verses have such heft in the heaviness of their playing. Drummer Matt Arrebollo just goes berserk at the halfway mark, trying to hit every piece of his kit before a nice, fast paced guitar solo kicks in before the closing chorus. "Oblivion" opens with pounding double bass and buzz saw-sounding tremolo guitars. The riff has a classic pit starter throughout, with a nice bounce to the groove of the riff by Arrebollo's double bass. Alex Brown's bass at the musical break, adds more boom and gurgle to the riff, making it heavier while adding an almost punk-grit. The song flies by in its pacing, as we hit the bridge. Continuing that d-beat drumming and hardcore/death metal aesthetic in the vocals and guitar playing. This song will be insane to hear live, especially in the middle of the pit.

"The Black Curtain" opens with a very hard rock, death n roll inspired opening riff and drums. Brown's bass leads throughout the verses with Mason's hybrid guttural lows and phlegmy highs. Musically, it is definitely a more slower paced song, in the vein of death n roll like Entombed, and the band pulls it off in their own unique way. Very atmospheric, almost stoner/doom in its mix. Next is "Masterpiece of Chaos", and returns to a more heavier and darker tone. We get the dirge of the main riff, with ringing cymbal strikes, then the addition of double bass. Arrebollo again attacks his kit with ferocity before the verses section. The riff has a black metal tinge to it. With all the tremolo playing and blast beats beneath it. Gatecreeper loves to play around with the genre and see what to inject into their sound to make something unique and complex. The commanding & stomping snare hits, double bass and chugging guitars near the close of the track just makes me instantly headbang along with it. "Superstitious Visions" opens with dueling guitar harmonies in the vein of In Flames, before the chugging guitars of Garza and Wagner and the heavy bass mix of Brown, add such depth in the mix. Filling the space of the mix. I love the lead guitar/vocal combo at the halfway mark of the song, before we get a cowbell-led musical break into a nice guitar solo. With the rhythm section of Brown & Arrebollo keeping the heart of the track going. Blast beats and driving tremolo guitars open "A Chilling Aura". The riff on the verses has a metalcore/melo-death sound to it, and with the pounding double bass and gritty growls of Mason, it instantly sounds like the classic Gothenburg sound of acts like Dark Tranquility or Soilwork. Mason shreds his throat with such ear-piecing screams at the halfway mark, before returning to his gravely growls on the chorus. This was my favorite track on the album.

With "Caught in The Treads", the cannon like drum strikes from Arrebollo start the track off. Garza and Wagner are just riff machines, channeling the classic melodic death metal sound, while also infusing modern day chugging in certain sections. Accented by Arrebollo's double bass flurries. Mason's anthemic screams/growls during the almost 80's sounding arena drum hits, builds and intensifies, on the drum strikes and riff picks up. This song will kill live with its building drums , along with the gritty and gnarly guitar riff and tone. With Mason commanding the crowd throughout many moments of the song. "Flesh Habit" open with Brown & Arrebollo syncing up before Mason's "oh" kicks the song into gear. Returning to the death n roll vibe of "The Black Curtain", the song has that same motif. I was hesitant at first if the death n roll sound could work with them, and I'm digging it a lot. With the production creating that atmospheric, reverb heavy tinge. It recreates that nostalgic studio mix, especially on the guitars. "Mistaken For Dead" returns to the fist-pumping drums and circle-pit inducing guitars. I was instantly bobbing my head along with Arrebollo's snare hits throughout the track. A very, Slayer-esque guitar solo after the halfway mark, hits so good and fits the thrash heavy pacing. Mason delivers a great mix again of piercing screams and gritty growls. The album closes with "Tears Fall From The Sky". Opening in an a doom metal sounding guitar and drum pacing, it creates such atmosphere of dread and loss. Dueling guitar harmonies come in amidst the drum strikes and deep bass notes. Mason really embraces the sound, channeling deep, cavernous growls and even a deep guttural in the opening verses and throughout. The song's hopelessness and feeling of unknown is such a perfect match to the song's title. Pacing picks up around the halfway mark, as we slowly merge back into the death metal sound with double bass and chugs from Garza and Wagner for a short moment. A heavy, doom-laden closer to the band's first new album in five years.

With Dark Superstition, Gatecreeper returned from the depths of the unknown to deliver a unique take on all things death metal that were infused on the album. Unique takes on death n roll and melodic death metal shine on the record. Showing that the band hasn't missed a step after a gap in studio albums. With many of the songs flying by in it's pacing, it reminds me of the band's debut album Sonoran Depravation, but had elements of longer songs like their second album Deserted. Dark Superstition is the perfect mix of the band's previous albums, perfected with this release. I dig the record a lot and I can't wait to hear some of these songs live and how the band will evolve with future releases.  

SCORE: 8.5 / 10

1) Dead Star

2) Oblivion

3) The Black Curtain

4) Masterpiece of Chaos

5) Superstitious Visions

6) A Chilling Aura

7) Caught in The Treads

8) Flesh Habit

9) Mistaken For Dead

10) Tears Fall From The Sky

FFO: Entombed, Dark Tranquility, Grave

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