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An unexpected release - 60%

kluseba, January 13th, 2021
Written based on this version: 2021, Digital, Closed Casket Activities

Death metal quintet Gatecreeper shows two completely different sides on this unusual extended play An Unexpected Reality.

The first side of the LP features seven aggressive, fast-paced and underproduced death metal tunes that are less than one minute long on average. The riffs are loud and speedy, the rhythm section is galloping along and the deep growls always sound the same. The riffs have some grindcore, hardcore punk and even crust influences. However, the tracks are much too short to build up any atmosphere, development or songwriting skills. The different tunes end up sounding exchangeable and even forgettable. Two or three of these tracks might have worked well in the context of a full length effort to offer some energetic interludes but seven songs of the same kind in a row fail to unfold their potential.

The second side includes one single tune that cracks the eleven-minute mark. Yes, indeed, that song alone is longer than the other seven tunes combined. The genre is also completely different as Gatecreeper offers funeral doom with plodding distorted riffs, heavy rhythm section and slow-motion growls. This song indeed has a lot of atmosphere and a few interesting changes. Especially the quiet and clean interludes work wonderfully as transitions. The song also seems to have better production values as it isn't a noisy blur like the seven shorter tracks. Ironically, this song suffers from the opposite of the other tracks: it's much too long for its own good. This track could have been excellent with tighter songwriting and a length between five to seven minutes. This version here however overstays its welcome and loses itself in redundancy and repetition. Still, this song is easily the best on this extended play and qualifies as decent for regular metal fans and good for funeral doom fans.

The outstanding cover artwork needs to be pointed out as well. I could look at this album cover for hours and would still discover new elements. It's funny how the emerging dragon actually looks like a kitten or even a seal with winged ears from a different perspective. Whoever did this artwork deserves much praise.

As for the music, the final result is overall average in my opinion. Fans of crust, grindcore and fast death metal might appreciate the first side of the album while funeral doom fans should dig the second side. However, both sides are lacking focused songwriting and are overall incompatible. At the end of the day, this output is interesting for two specific niches but uninteresting for anyone else.