gatecreeper_sonoran-depravationI haven’t reviewed death metal in a good long time, so I thought I’d get back on the dead horse with upstart Arizona act, Gatecreeper. For their Sonoran Depravation debut they’ve crafted a style mixing equal parts of the D-beat Swede-death style made famous by Entombed, the grit and dirge of Asphyx and the bastard war grind of Bolt Thrower. Sounds tempting, eh? It is, and the way these young pups put it all together will surely satisfy your ghoulish appetites. This plays like the work of accomplished vets rather than a debut by unknown bangers, and I was fairly impressed on the first listen. It’s all here: throat cutting riffs, gurgling vocals, creepy solo-work, anger, rage and testosterone. You’ve heard this stuff before and you’ll hear it again in the future, but it’s done well enough to make a dent even in my jaded skvll tank and that thing has thick armor!

Opener “Craving Flesh” makes a good impression almost immediately with its slick blend of ballsy Entombed buzz n’ gallop and Asphyx creepy crawling. It wastes no time proving the riffs are going to be loud, ugly and confrontational and Chase Mason’s vocals are lovingly gruesome and guttural. The doomy plod around the 2-minute mark onward is sweet victory and before you’re ready, the song snuffs itself out. “Sterilizing” also hits that rotten sweet spot by adding Morbid Angel distorted string bending to the basic Swede-death and letting the riffs bully you around the fading playground.

Later cuts like “Stronghold” take Bolt Thrower‘s classic mid-tempo grind and make it feel new and exciting again with some razor-sharp riff-work. This one is definitely music to roll over dead bodies with, in case you’re ever in need of such a thing. “Patriarchal Grip” is also highly engaging, starting off with heavy doom riffs that remind of Saint VitusDie Healing days, before churning back into ramming speed and roaring off to battle. The riff at 2:50 is a dozy and worth it’s weight in C4 and the whole song has that “don’t fuck with me” vibe that death metal needs to be 110% effective. Even the rudimentary chug of “Lost Forever” will get you up and moving because the band knows exactly what buttons to push to make everything sound urgent and spine-breaking. That’s good stuff.


At just over 33 minutes, this is a short and sweet piece of fanny paddling with nothing I’d call filler. The songs themselves are all tight and concise, running between 2 and 4 minutes with only one exceeding the 5-minute mark. The production is a tad on the loud side with the bulk of the space occupied by the guitar, but it really doesn’t hurt the overall experience. The riffs are like intergalactic battering rams and though the bass is usually lost in the fog of war, the drums have a satisfying thud and the overall mix is respectable.

Since the guitar is such a focal point, it’s fortuitous that Eric Wagner is a very accomplished riff-smith. He’s loaded the album with a plethora of cracking leads and though many are unapologetic Bolt Thrower worship, a nasty riff by any other name still smells like gunpowder and trench-foot. Chase Mason has a righteous death croak and really adds a lot of phlegmy oomph to the barrage. He reminds me a lot of Karl Willetts mixed with Martin Van Drunen and John Tardy, and they’re obviously good company to count oneself in. The entire band is super tight and the writing is tighter still, and that makes a big difference when peddling recycled death like this.

Gatecreeper reminds me a lot of Predatoria – neither are doing anything remotely new or original but they do it with such skill and conviction, that seems less important somehow. If you miss Bolt Thrower (and you had better), Sonoran Depravation may make their recent passing feel a little less tragic. This world needs more World Eaters.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Relapse
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: October 7th, 2016


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  • Eldritch Elitist

    Was sold on this the instant you mentioned Bolt Thrower. Will be checking this out ASAP.

  • Jason

    I definitely want to hear more.

  • Francesco Bordoni

    Stumbled accross “Desperation” a couple of weeks ago; I was really impressed by it and made a mental note to keep my ears up for the upcoming CD. Then proceeded to immediately forget about it. Happy to see these guys pop out around these parts, having scored a nice 3.5 no less. Just listening to these fat riffs in “Craving Flesh” makes my skin crawl with anticipation! Good stuff!

  • Dr. Wvrm

    That album art is phenomenal, I kinda want to get it framed and hang it somewhere.

    • Jason

      I also like the band’s logo. It’s like an homage to Entombed with those little bat-wing shaped flourishes that you might see older American death metal bands use.

  • Ferrous Beuller

    Ahhhh. To be British and read “fanny paddling”. Thank you.

  • Diego Molero

    I feel ashamed, but I have never listen to Bolt Thrower… There I said it.
    So, was is the album of theirs that I should begin with?

    • For shame! I’d say either Realm of Chaos or Those Once Loyal, though all their albums are pretty great.

    • Ferrous Beuller

      Realms of Chaos and IVth Crusade. Onwards to glory!!!

      • The Unicorn

        I am so sad they are gone. So glad to have seen them live, once…

        • Ferrous Beuller

          I saw them at Damnation fest (in England) a few years back along with St. Vitus, Anaal Nathrakh, Cannibal Corpse and more. What. A. Night.

          • The Unicorn

            You aint kidding. Even stuck at the porta-potties shittin’ and pukin’ I still loved the show!

          • Monsterth Goatom

            The people around here always seem to go to the best concerts and fests. Come summer, I usually find myself stuck at something like the Bands-Who-Couldn’t-Buy-A-Gig-In-Their-Own-Country Festival.

        • Norfair Legend

          There’s Memoriam now, Karl’s new band.

          • The Unicorn

            Whats his new band, I did not know about that.

    • Westpaceagle

      I failed to appreciate them the first time around as well, so you have company in the corner of shame. Those Once Loyal is the height of their considerable awesomeness imho

    • Mark Z

      Those Once Loyal

      • Treble Yell


    • The Unicorn

      The IVth Crusade, no question. Honour Valour Pride is a newer good one.

      • Hulksteraus

        Plus one for The IVth Crusade

    • Monsterth Goatom

      Hah, I was just going to write the same thing. I’ll give SD’s recommendations a try.

      • Shame!!

        • Monsterth Goatom

          Oh shush.

          • Hulksteraus

            Tush and Fi!

    • Brother Ben

      Warmaster or Those Once Loyal

    • The Nerd.DMF

      I can sit in the corner with you.

      • Diego Molero

        Bring snacks!

        • The Nerd.DMF

          Beer or Rum?

          • Diego Molero

            I would said rum, but I’m only 17, so I don’t want you to be sitting in jail instead of the corner o’ shame.

          • The Nerd.DMF

            Well shit

          • Diego Molero

            Shit indeed. On the bright side, in my country you can drink at the age of 18.

          • The Nerd.

            Canadian here, in Alberta we can drink at 18. How much longer till you’re 18?

          • Diego Molero

            Just in Alberta or Canada in general?… I’m Venezuelan, in here you can drink at 18, but it doesn’t really matter, you can have 16 or so and go to any liquor store and buy a bottle without an ID whenever you want, people don’t care, the law don’t care. Our country is really fucked up in all of the possible ways. I’ll be 18 in about 8 months.

          • The Nerd.

            In B.C and Ontario it’s 19, and I’m not entirely sure about the rest of the country.

            Yeah I’ve heard Venezula has had a rough time. Stay safe man.

          • Diego Molero

            19? That’s kinda pointless if you ask me, but hey, at least up there people do follow rules. And “rough time” doesn’t even begin to describe what is happening in here, but yes. And I will, thanks man.

    • For Victory

    • Anthony Ippolito

      …For Victory is, I feel, their best overall effort, although The IVth Crusade and Those Once Loyal are both pantheon-level death metal albums.

  • Monsterth Goatom

    From now on, if anyone asks me for the prime features of Death Metal, I’ll point them to this review.

  • Violent Intentions

    You know a death metal band has succeeded when you get a sudden urge to break something…fuck (!) this is exactly what I needed.

  • Eli Valcik

    been waiting for the review of this album. I picked this up on bandcamp a few weeks ago and I really liked. I was curious to know what you guys thought of it.

  • Luke_22

    Really dig what I’ve heard so far. Just the solid old school death metal fix I need right now.

  • GardensTale

    Wearing your influences on your sleeve can be dangerous, it doesn’t matter much if the execution is really good but it becomes a real drawback when the band can’t live up to it at all. Good to see this is not the latter.

  • Treble Yell

    Derivative but well done. Not sure if it’s enough to make me want to grab the album, though. Great review. Standout line: “This one is definitely music to roll over dead bodies with, in case you’re ever in need of such a thing.” Lovely.

  • herrschobel

    yes ! very good indeed. and yeah i do really miss bolt thrower…

  • lennymccall

    Stoked to see these guys with Skeletonwitch this Thursday!!

  • Dead1

    Reasonably well done but extremely derivative and lacking the memorability of Entombed or Bolt Thrower.

    “nothing I’d call filler”
    It mainly sounds like filler really. There’s not much stand out stuff here.
    Here’s the crux of the issue: would you rather listen to this than Bolt Thrower or Entombed or Asphyx?

  • TminusEight

    Enjoying this, but right now buzzing out on how great Bolt Thrower are (!) Somehow missed that as a vital part of my Angry Metal Education. Thanks for the schooling, S.D.

  • Norfair Legend

    I heard them and was planning on picking this up no matter what, so I just decided to go with the vinyl as well. That artwork is as stellar as the music.

  • Hutch Thirteen

    i have been rocking this. great album. great summation in the review. solid work. any death metal fan should pick this up and be immensely satisfied

  • AgonMcDuck

    That tremolo lead towards the end of “Desperation” is just so fucking fantastic. Not sure how I feel about the album as a whole, but I have been mercilessly spamming that song just for that moment. Helps that it’s so short too and always leaves me wanting to replay it. Good stuff.

  • ssorg

    I know this is old, but I just have to say, Kurt Ballou did a lousy job on the mix. Compare this album to the Gatecreeper demo, or some of the (excellent) live videos on you tube and maybe you’ll see what I mean. He tried to mix death metal like its power violence and it comes out with no guts to it. Dude should stick to what he’s good at.