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Album Review: Don’t Wear Sweatpants While Listening to Gatecreeper’s Deserted

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Does anybody else feel like metal is in kind of a holding pattern right now? All this OSDM revival stuff seems like retro thrash did a decade ago: a return to classic sounds of the genre while everyone waits to see what comes next. On the bright side, it allows excellent bands like Gatecreeper to get attention for their meticulous explorations of death metal’s history. All those years of ignoring schoolwork in favor of studying Clandestine and Like An Everflowing Stream finally pay off!

Gatecreeper’s roster consists of members of Hellhorse and Spirit Adrift. The latter band’s album from this year, Divided by Darkness, also looks to metal’s past, but with more of an eye to its future. Deserted feels like the musicians just trying to have fun and make a great death metal record. It sounds the part. The production has that sepulchral, recorded-in-a-moldering-tomb quality that really gets the girls going (out of the graveyard, screaming, pursued by flesh-eating zombies).

“But what about the riffs?” ask all the dudes in Obituary sweatpants. Well, prepare to cover your crotch regions, because this thing is chock full of riffs. Not only do “Puncture Wounds” and “Barbaric Pleasures” nod to the aforementioned Entombed and Dismembered , they find inspiration in less likely directions. Although somewhat chunkier, songs like “From The Ashes” recall Johan Liiva-era Arch Enemy, especially with Chase Mason’s bulldozer roar and the epic guitar interplay between Eric Wagner and Nate Garrett (aka “Jack Maniacky” here).

Mason’s roar is also one of the things that makes this a little more accessible for OSDM skeptics. It’s much more palatable than the cookie monster belching or incomprehensible gibbering found in a lot of bands in the genre. The tight songwriting also helps set them apart. None of the songs outstay their welcome, and the musicians always have something going on that catches the ear (helped by a mix from Kurt Ballou that highlights the Stygian depths).  Deserted is an OSDM throwback record, no doubt, but it’s also an incredibly well-done one. Don’t leave it festering in its grave.

Gatecreeper’s Deserted comes out this Friday on Relapse. Check out “From the Ashes” here and pre-order the album here. Tickets for their co-headlining tour with Exhumed available here.

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