Gatecreeper, An Unexpected Reality (Closed Casket Activities 2021)

Desert Death Metal force of nature Gatecreeper release and incredible set that shows you how to do it fast and how to do it slow.

Hailing from Arizona, Gatecreeper has been creating music since 2014. Their first EP was the self-title release in that early year, and it landed a tight four songs with harrowing bravado. The pounding rhythm and powerfully insistent vocals were a sign and a statement. It was mid-tempo Death Metal with great hooks, and there was no mistaking the possibilities. Two years later Sonoran Depravation came out and warped musical reality. Many splits and singles have come to pass in the intervening years, plus a live album and the amazing sophomore full-length, Deserted in 2019. They have been throwing down the metal day after day.

The new EP is titled aptly as it is a direction that was not predictable. Separated into a “fast side” and a “slow side,” this is a Janus faced masterpiece. There are seven short songs on the fast side, and by short I mean some of them are less than one minute long with one clocking in at 31 seconds. There is a very hardcore punk attitude in these pieces but at the same time the Gatecreeper sound and hook is in their too, unmistakably.

The slow side is one eleven-minute Doom infused bone crusher, “Emptiness.” The band has never done a song like this before, and we can say the same about the short songs – even though they have a lot hard hitting short pieces in their catalogue, they are nothing like the fast side songs here. The combination of these two completely different elements that are also new to the work of the band to this point is a bold move, and one that pays off astronomically. Highly recommended.

An Unexpected Reality is out now from Closed Casket Activities. Most of the vinyl has sold out at last look, including the second pressings. The CD is still available, and of course the digital. You can get these at Bandcamp, etc.




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Gatecreeper, An Unexpected Reality (Closed Casket Activities 2021)

Xibalba, Años En Infierno review (Southern Lord 2020)

California cataclysmists Xibalba are back with their fourth full-length release, Años En Infierno, and it is one to bring the house down.

From their home in southern California, Nate Rebolledo, Brian Ortiz, and Jason Brunes have come together again to sow ruin on the path before them. Their music is described on the band’s Facebook page as Death Metal / Doom / Hardcore – all those fit. Their catalogue up to the release of this new one shows a propensity for the tonal low end with crushing doom riffs transitioning to full speed death passages that touch on thrash. The result is a full force aural benison that shows you everything and lets you live. With more than a decade of experience under their belts, the new album fulfills the promise of their earlier music and works an even finer musical balance.

“La Injusticia” starts the set off with a message of violence and a thirst for revenge. Pummeling guitars and percussion make the case that no quarter is to be had throughout. An instrumental interlude follows (with vocalizations), and then the hypertensive “Santa Muerte” roars into your ears. Speed is king, interspersed with heavy hammer falls, and then another instrumental, “Saka.” The album takes a turn after the first four songs toward an outright volcanic explosion – rather like the glowing pyramid depicted on the cover. Two raging chaotic storms lead to the finale, “El Abismo I” and “El Abismo II.” In some ways invoking the masterful “El Vacio” from their earlier album Tierra Y Libertad, this closing epic in two parts is darker and more … upsetting. In the first part, melodic vocals about forests of blight where souls come to die are crushed and ground to dust by thunderous interjections. The soft voice comes back, only to be crushed again. There is a message here. At least I heard one anyway. The second part starts with aggression and loud anger before turning somewhat reflective, and even cosmic. A journey is described in the music, one of the soul and of the mind. It is an excellent way to close this volume of the band’s music, wrapping up the range style and expression that make the whole. Recommended.

Años En Infierno is available now in hardcopy at Southern Lord, and digitally at Bandcamp. It is streaming all over, too. Other Xibalba merch can be had at Closed Casket Activities. If you want physical copies of anything you better get on it while you can.


Xibalba, Años En Infierno review (Southern Lord 2020)