By ELI JACE >
Billowing from the world’s number one COVID hotspot,
Arizona’s Gatecreeper have surprise-released a new album. Surprise! At midnight last night, An Unexpected Reality, appeared available for purchase and download. Only hours before, singer Chase “Hellahammer” Mason started the tease.
I can’t wait to punish everyone for at least a full week about something I secretly worked on for the past year
— Chase (@hellahammer) January 12, 2021
These death metal cretins have spent their pandemic time holed up like the rest of us, subsisting on crackers, hoarding toilet paper, killer your neighbor for stepping on your lawn, et cetera. Except Gatecreeper went to work on their third LP, more of a mini-album, An Unexpected Reality.
It’s the medicine we all need.
Gatecreeper’s An Unexpected Reality is eight songs in total, starting with seven quick shots like seven hits of streetcrack and ending with an 11-minute warning drill. The first seven all hover around the one-minute mark. Each one a cavalcade of punk riffs, blast beats, sudden breakdowns and shifting time changes–Mason spitting coughing hacking out germs on every track. After seven years writing songs together, there’s a sense of the chemistry imbued by this fivepiece.
“Imposter Syndrome” and “Amputation” together come in under 2 minutes alone, but have more peaks and valleys than most full rock albums. Together the first seven songs are a quick primer on what Gatecreeper can do. Pump you up like a gallon tank of Red Bull, then drag your sorry twitchy gurgling ass across jagged desert terrain. What getting hit with a spiked bat must sound like from inside the skull. It’s a full album shoved into the locker in seven minutes or less.
The final track is “Emptiness” and takes a two-minute rise through dark foreboding feedback before coming to.
It’s Gatecreeper’s slow-fuck jam and the opening minutes are methodical metal bashes in time. Mason breathes out a menacing evil. Five minutes in the track begins to pummel and leaves you guessing for another six minutes.
When the pandemic forced the world into a pattern of shutdowns Gatecreeper, as well Deftones, Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, Wilco, and others were forced to cancel major tours or rollouts of new music. Nick Cave was about to start the journey of performing 2019’s Ghosteen live with the full band, but settled for recording a quiet set of his songs alone on the piano. Deftones had to push back the release of their ninth album, Ohms, and haven’t even seen each other since its release last September. For musicians whose marketing revolves around a constant cycle, the sudden closing of venues and arenas threw many off schedule.
Gatecreeper began 2020 with an eye on the road.
Their second album, Deserted, was released in October 2019. They were on a club tour with Exhumed, Necrot and Judiciary through the winter. In the new year The Decibel Magazine Tour was announced with Norwegian death metal headliners Mayhem and Abbath with support from Gatecreeper and Idle Hands. Instead of strengthening their reputation as a brutal force on stages across the world, they were punted into creative solitude. No live music to throw yourself at is terrible, but getting more new music is always a good thing.
An Unexpected Reality is being put out by Closed Casket Activities out of Troy, New York with three exclusive vinyl designs which are almost already sold out, sorry. As always the artwork for this album, by Thomas Toye, is fucked up depicting a stairwell leading into a subzero dragon’s pit with a blackhole in the sky omitting demons.