The Arizona sun can be an oppressive force, an unforgivable presence. “I do think people from Arizona, I think maybe our brains are a little fried,” Chase H. Mason of GATECREEPER said during his sit-down interview with IMP. As a member of the new Arizona metal group that can be good for at least one thing. “It’s an excuse to be inside and writing riffs in the air conditioning.”
On their debut full-length album GATECREEPER vomit up riffs as if they swallowed ipecac. The result is the torching Sonoran Depravation released by Relapse Records on October 7. And the result of listening to it with headphones on at full volume is a bell-like ringing that echoes through your eardrums. The album is pure metal with the goal of achieving maximum headrush. It doesn’t mince words or waste your time. It’s tight and controlled, but bludgeoning its own structure, constantly forming a new path
Sonoran Depravation opens like a baseball bat to the front door with “Craving Flesh.” The guitars are quick and threatening. It’s the tortuous soundtrack that would play through your head while stumbling through the woods chased by ax-wielding militiamen. “Sterilized” blasts away with monstrous double bass pounding from drummer Metal Matt.
The fastest and shortest song is “Desperation.” It’s a perfect blend of anarchic punk and fist-to-the-face metal without diving too far in either direction. “Rotting As One” and “Stronghold” are two of the more complex songs sloshing through different nether regions of heavy metal history. “Patriarchal Grip” opens with numbing feedback until Mason grunts and it’s on. Mason’s vocals are scorched and hit the death metal depth, but he also throws in some manic yelps and spittled barking.
The strength of Sonoran Depravation is that each song refuses to be built off a single riff, instead creating a vast landscape of brutal blow after brutal blow. Every shift is seamless moving from blood addled carnage to double speed punk atrocity. Every now and then you’ll find yourself caught in the vortex of a slow hypnotic grind. Then the blows continue. It’s a formula that keeps the record from ever getting mundane. There’s a new part discovered with each playback.
“Lost Forever” gashes through the speakers next. A full on assault and battery. The guitar cuts like a horror murderer’s knife. The drums build up the riffs and shove them forward. On “Flamethrower” Metal Matt stomps on the bass pedal like he’s chasing a cop. For every song he plays like he’s running. Matt brings a power to these songs that makes Sonoran Depravation whole.
Your Halloween soundtrack has arrived.