"Dark Superstition is the moment where Gatecreeper become a more well-rounded and versatile heavy metal band." Gatecreeper confirm their status as one of the most exciting bands in death metal with album three

Gatecreeper have evolved nicely without compromising their extreme metal roots on the excellent Dark Superstition

(Image: © Trenton Woods)

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Widely earmarked for greatness after the release of their Sonoran Deprivation debut in 2016, Arizona residents Gatecreeper have spent their first decade establishing themselves as the modern era’s most potent purveyors of Stockholm-meets-the-desert death metal. They may have taken their sweet time to produce a full-length follow-up to 2019’s rapturously received Deserted (the brutal snapshots of 2021’s An Unexpected Reality EP notwithstanding), but Dark Superstition is every inch the strident, big label debut. Produced by Converge’s Kurt Ballou, this is a more diverse and daring record than Gatecreeper’s old school reputation might suggest. The mid-paced pummelling of The Black Curtain is gritty and melancholic like old school Paradise Lost; Superstitious Visions is doomy rock ‘n’ roll with a brittle, hardcore heart; Caught In The Treads’ thunderous, folk-tinged call-to-arms is crushing and uplifting in equal measure. 

There will doubtless be some Gatecreeper fans that object to some of the more overtly melodic moments on Dark Superstition. Those people are being a bit silly. Full of big songs with classy, melodeath hooks and sturdy, mid-paced grooves, the Arizonans’ third full-length is their most accessible by far, but this not-that-huge stylistic shift never feels like a compromise. The opening Dead Star may be slow and touched by the hand of goth, but it packs a jarring, razor-edged punch; Masterpiece Of Chaos is as gnarly and belligerent as anything from those revered, early Entombed albums. But in its entirety, Dark Superstition is simply the moment where Gatecreeper become a more well-rounded and versatile heavy metal band. 

The closing Tears Fall From The Sky sums it all up: a merciless, slow-stomping doom colossus, it is brutally, unnervingly heavy and yet vibrant with classic metal melodies and a real atmosphere of menacing portentousness. That kind of flesh-flaying finesse cannot be faked. Gatecreeper have perfected the old school revivalism thing and moved on to something more measured and approachable, but without losing a shred of their original deathly intent. Dark Superstition should be regarded as a great leap forward for a great band, but one that will still slit you open for fun. Next level of death, effortlessly achieved.

Dark Superstition is out Friday May 17

Dom Lawson

Dom Lawson has been writing for Metal Hammer and Prog for over 14 years and is extremely fond of heavy metal, progressive rock, coffee and snooker. He also contributes to The Guardian, Classic Rock, Bravewords and Blabbermouth and has previously written for Kerrang! magazine in the mid-2000s.