Gatecreeper // An Unexpected Reality // Album Review
Let’s all agree that 2020 was a dumpster fire.
But 2021 is already shaping up to be so much better with the releases of Frozen Soul’s “Crypt Of Ice”, Asphyx’s “Necroceros” & in a turn of events Gatecreeper are back with a huge surprise of “An Unexpected Reality”.
And what a huge & pleasant surprise it is! 7 fast, hardcore & punk-influenced tracks capped off with the 11-minute doom & black metal inspired Emptiness.
Since the band’s inception in 2013, they have been one of the most hard-working bands in the metal scene. Every month I have seen the band announced on tours with the likes of Cannibal Corpse, Mayhem, Exhumed & Dying Fetus.
Just by a few of those names, it shows how regarded in the death metal scene Gatecreeper now are. I must admit they are in my top 3 of newer OSDM bands.
So when the band release any form of new music, my ears perk up. Hearing the band state “this release offers two opposing sides of the band’s musical personality”. I knew this was going to be a fun listen.
“Side one consists of seven short, sharp shocks that have a total running time of fewer than seven minutes.” “Side two is the exact opposite. Consisting of a single 11-minute track entitled “Emptiness,” this is Gatecreeper at their slowest and most funereal.”
And for me, this encompasses this release perfectly. The first is some of the best hardcore influenced metal I’ve heard for a while. Seeing Chase Mason use 2 different vocal styles is a first for Gatecreeper.
Chase isn’t a one-dimensional vocalist by any means; in the band’s last release, Deserted, you can see how the years of touring between albums had given Chase such a strong & varied vocal delivery.
But with the likes of “An Unexpected Reality” it feels like the reigns have been let off, the band & Chase are at their end, giving every single blood, sweat & tear to these tracks.
If you weren’t paying attention the 1-minute tracks could pass you by, not to say these aren’t memorable because they are! But if you are accepting the run of the mill here, you will be disappointed.
That is where I feel Gatecreeper shine over a lot of bands, they keep you guessing.
People may be lazy and cast Gatecreeper in the net of “they are just another old school death metal rip off”. And they are far from it.
With “An Unexpected Reality” they have now firmly cemented themselves as a band of their own.
Not many bands can pull the old switcheroo but Gatecreeper has been able to do it here, without it seeming obvious or contrived.
If any hardcore band would have released the fast hardcore tracks from this release it would have been one of the best releases of the year ha! So being a death metal band who have the balls to write this kind of music shows the calibre of what Gatecreeper have to offer in the future.
Now with “Emptiness”, the band are able to pull from a completely different bow.
This time from a heavy doom layered side, bringing in elements of black metal & even classic metal with the use of bells. Yes that’s right, huge cathedral bells.
The first time I listened to the track I felt a very heavy Warning vibe to the track, but as the 11 minute track progresses it transports you to all different places.
Clean guitar passages, the aforementioned bells, doom inspired drones & vocals heavily drenched with early black metal. And none of this seems out of place within Gatecreeper’s wheelhouse. It borders the line of being foreign but not unbelievable.
Most bands wouldn’t be able to pull off such a feat but Gatecreeper can.
Where I could have seen a track like this in the later years of the band’s discography, maybe the last track on an album as a closer. So I’m happy that they took a risk and released it like this.
“Emptiness” has now for me become one of the band’s strongest tracks, onto a handful of splits, EP’s & 2 full albums which are all 10/10s.
“An Unexpected Reality” is what we needed going into 2021. A reminder that things can only get better.
“An Unexpected Reality” is out now via Closed Casket Activities