Gatecreeper
Dark Superstition

When Arizona’s Gatecreeper burst onto the scene 10 years ago they did it with such gusto, ushering in a bludgeoning death metal sound.  By incorporating many elements of the Swedish chainsaw – buzzsaw HM-2 heaviness with large elements of groove they became one of the heaviest bands, overnight.  Across their prior two albums and eps the band has shown growth, as well as beginning to add a serious dose of doom death.  Dark Superstition is their debut for Nuclear Blast.  The three original members Metal Matt on drums, Chase Mason on vox and guitarist Eric Wagner on guitars embrace new members Israel Garza on guitar and bassist Alex Brown.

10 songs in 37 minutes, keeps to their previous albums lengths, and you usually get a lot of bang for your buck with Gatecreeper.  Opening with “Dead Star”, the band opts to go with a slow opening number, which is not even mid-paced, it’s slow.  It’s heavy AF and that buzzsaw riff at the 1.05 section is quite lethal.  Because this song is drenched in groove, I would save this song for the middle of a live set, to get the pits bee-bopping up and down.  The song gets a little faster towards the end with a guitar soloing happening. This is a heavy song, for sure, it’s catchy, however opening the album with this, personally I would have rather heard one of them mid-paced Bolt Throwish numbers, which that is what  “Oblivion”, resembles and is up next.  Beginning with a great opening then ripping into a faster gallop and this song calls to mind Dismember, especially with the vocals, although they do get into the hardcore-ish territory, something the band has been doing for years, especially with some of those groove patterns, however, they are greatly increased on this album.  Damn fine song.  The band goes back to the slow style song, with “The Black Curtain”.  The song is drenched in atmosphere and melody, but for me goes nowhere.

“Superstitious Visions” bee-bops along and then the heavy AF riff comes in and this part is lethal.  So heavy and this is tank hammered bludgeoning.  The song has a variety of tempo shifts and also gets into more atmospheric melodic tendencies, towards the end.  I wanted more of those heavier moments!!  “Caught in the Treads” is the perfect title for this track.  Starting slow, yet very heavy, there are some heavy nods to Bolt Thrower with this song.  The isolated guitar riff at the 2.20 will have fans, in unison, throwing up their horns as they headbang their heads off their shoulders.

This is a good song which is bested by “Mistaken for Dead”, which begins with a fast-paced gallop and stoopid heavy AF guitar tone.  There are some very cool guitar solos on this song and this is an excellent song.  Excellent tempo shifts and this is more akin to their prior material, for sure and “A Chilling Aura” maybe is the best song with the sheer viciousness and heaving mid-paced elements.

Sorry to say, but the rest of the songs, really are stacked with these slow heavy brooding numbers, as well as the last song “Tears Fall from the Sky”, bringing in that doom-death element I previously spoke about.  Dark Superstition, when placed next to the previous Gatecreeper albums, is a step-down.  The vocals have taken on more of those hardcore elements, with the deeper vocals more of a thing of the past.  The more mid-paced, galloping heavy songs, of yore, are scaled back and in place are increased atmospheric slower numbers.  Now while quite heavy indeed and still bringing forth those Dismember and Bolt Thrower types of influences, many of these songs, just do not go anywhere.  I miss the more aggressive Gatecreeper.  The production is lights out fantastic as is this super cool cover.  Maybe the band is trying to appeal to a wider range of fans, especially with the jump to such a high-profile label.  However, Gatecreeper left some meat on the bone.  They can do better!

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Frank Rini
June 28th, 2024

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