Comprised of ¾ of doom lords SPIRIT ADRIFT and the rhythm section of blackened crusties HELLHORSE, I was not expecting Arizona’s GATECREEPER to sound like, well, GATECREEPER. Yeah, I know its been around for awhile now, but I just haven’t had the time nor, to be honest, inclination for death metal of late. What with all the buzz around the release of sophomore album, Deserted, though, I figured it was about time. All I know going in is this: When your press bio contains comparisons to BOLT THROWER, DEATH and CIANIDE, you best have your shit together in a big way.

The title track begins as a rather pedestrian could-be-intro, but, sucker that I am for doom, the Cro-Magnon plod appeals to me, the band soon enough snapping into a near-gallop. Good, and I certainly wouldn’t turn the dial or hit the skip button if this were to be shuffled into a playlist, but it’s, by and large, shrug-inducing. ‘Puncture Wounds’ ups the ante a bit, and I hear shades of the blackness of HELLHORSE in the bass/drums of this surefire pit starter. If Barnes-era CANNIBAL CORPSE had been this passionately delivered, I might’ve cared more than I ever really did, which wasn’t much at all.

The next two songs wane, ‘Ruthless’ coming out the better of the two, but, again, to be “less yawn-inducing” when compared to the utterly tiring ‘From The Ashes’ is not much cause for celebration. ‘Everlasting’ conjures DISMEMBER’s Hate Campaign, which, though an album with its bright spots, wasn’t its best either, so take that for what you will, but ‘Barbaric Pleasures’ rages, and is my pick of the album as a whole. Riffs molded for headbanging pound over careening rhythms on this death ‘n’ roll-tinged number that could’ve been lifted straight off of Wolverine Blues, proving that when GATECREEPER is on, it’s really on. ‘Sweltering Madness’ is where I hear the most BOLT THROWER influence – and I’d been listening for it –, while ‘Boiled Over’ lurches, nearly stumbling – but not quite -, and I think this one will be a grower on repeated listens.

Closing the coffin with ‘Absence Of Light’, GATECREEPER lowers Deserted into the ground, content that it’s not likely to stay there once night falls. On the whole, this album would’ve been much more well-received by these ears a quarter-century ago, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. What it does mean, however, is that Deserted is an album I’ll certainly have to be in the “mood” for.
Review By: Lord Randall

2.5 / 6