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Gatecreeper - Dark Superstition (Album Review)

Thursday, 23 May 2024 Written by Matt Mills

Photo: Joey Maddon

Since the end of the pandemic, we’ve seen a string of young metal bands become breakout stars. Sleep Token are barrelling towards stadium status, Malevolence went viral with their whirlpool-sized mosh pits and, right now, Knocked Loose are one of the most talked-about bands on the planet. ‘Dark Superstition’ declares that, if there’s any justice in the world, Gatecreeper will become the next name on that list.

Formed in Phoenix, Arizona, 11 years ago, this quintet have long been some of death metal’s favoured sons. They were swept up by genre haven Relapse Records for their debut ‘Sonoran’ and scored rave reviews with its follow up ‘Deserted’, but since then have somewhat slowed, releasing just one EP in the last five years. 

Turns out, the band weren’t flagging — they were stocking up on ammunition for a scene-wide takeover. ‘Dark Superstition’ screams ‘star-maker’. 

Not only is it being released by metal monolith Nuclear Blast — home of Nightwish, Sabaton, Slayer and other arena-sized spectacles) — its material was co-written by members of venerated extremists Dismember and production/mixing was handled by Converge’s Kurt Ballou.

The end result is 10 masterfully realised tracks, bridging chainsaw guitar tones with legitimately infectious hooks. Opener Dead Star instantly introduces Gatecreeper’s refined songwriting, a melodic lead guitar line bursting from the speakers on top of a hulking rhythm section. The Black Curtain and Superstitious Vision double down on the accessible but incensed approach: vocalist Chase Mason still snarls his spleen out, yet does so with clearly laid-out choruses and easy-to-interpret lyrics.

There’s space for diversity within the episodic framework, as well. A Chilling Aura is a gallop of hardcore-esque speed, whereas Tears From The Sky deadens to a doom metal crawl, closing ‘Dark Superstition’ with a tantalising display of catchiness and versatility.

Unlike countless peers, Gatecreeper serve the song on album three, eschewing mindless blast beats and tremolo picking for tasteful catharsis. Such restraint and meticulousness deserves to be rewarded with the utmost success. Death metal was invented in Florida and proliferated in Sweden, but its next megastars are about to claw their way out of the Arizona desert.


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