Date: 19th September 2017
Review by: Pete Mutant
Gatecreeper were a band that went under my radar until a few months ago when I had seen that this gig was announced. The band from Arizona had only been in the game for four years before the night’s festivities and, when considering the difficulties in standing out from the insurmountable deluge of modern metal bands, was surprised that they would come all the way to the UK for a tour. It’s a big and costly venture to come all this way with only one album and an EP to bring to the party but, with the backing of Relapse Records, it becomes a little more understandable.
Having listened to their discography, I was excited to say the least as their sound brought some of my favourite styles together into one solid compound of salacious metal. For this tour, Gatecreeper teamed up with an act that is somewhat similar in style in Ratlord, a fresh on the scene quintet from Dusseldorf, Germany who released their debut self-titled EP earlier this year.
To finish the lineup, we had the local quartet of Necrocracy who are a band that I have followed from their first gig to this one. With two demos behind them, and a return to the studio on the cards, Necrocracy have been chalking up the gigs in Glasgow and, also, supported Uburen in Edinburgh. They were the only band on the night’s billing that had played at Audio before so they knew the territory and would have no qualms playing to the Glasgow crowd.
They had the opening slot for this night’s music and unfortunately, there wasn’t much of a crowd to play to. That didn’t stop Necrocracy [4.0/5] from giving one of their best performances. They opened the set with a newer track in ‘Berserker’ and for the first minute or so, the guitars sounded a little off. The rest of the band were firing through with vocalist Duncan McIver delivering a barrage of coarse and demonic vocals as the thunder crashed through drummer Aaron Campbell’s tireless efforts.
The issue was sorted quickly and the riffs came through much clearer and more pronounced which is necessary for the chord driven style that guitarist Andy Ferguson implements. This is the key component that sets Necrocracy apart from the rest. There was no hold up as we went straight into the second track ‘The Secret Dark’ which shifted from all out assault to vibrant melody within a seamless motion.
There’s a peculiar dynamism to this band which moulds some of the heaviest aspects of extreme music with some atmospheric melodies that shift and flow, heightening the impact and resonance of the music. This is always helped when the sound is just right, and on this night it was. The basslines from bassist John Howard were beefing up the rhythm with the blasts from drummer Aaron adding to the ferocity of the music. When ‘Ignorance’ blared out, the whole audience was truly wired in. The opening riff commands attention with forceful power chords descending before the song expands and ascends through tremolo and a note laden passage which was well executed on the night.
The set closed with, in my opinion, the band’s heaviest example to date in ‘Metal Annihilation’ (the opening track to their first demo) which was a commanding way to bow out. It was a solid performance which added a distinct variety far removed from the next servings of music on the night.
2. Secret Dark
3. Empty Chamber
4. Storm On The Horizon
7. Legacy Of A Parasite
8. Mental Annihilation
Ratlord [3.5/5], like Gatecreeper, were playing in Scotland for the first time tonight. Having only one EP to run their set, it was obvious to say that it wouldn’t be a long one. They would have to pack a massive performance into what they had and it would be hard to say that they didn’t achieve a solid performance. From the opening ‘Immortal Sadist I’ you could gather exactly what you were going to get from this band. The riffs were fairly simplistic but contained so much energy and sonic punch. The bassist was wearing a Bolt Thrower top and put in some excellent fills to separate some sections of the song. The drums were the most impressive aspect as the five Düsseldorfians bulldozed onwards.
The band mixed some extremely heavy styles into their music with the hardcore elements coming through in short bursts and also some slam tinged breaks that burst forth with seismic force. The third track of the night ‘As The Last Horseman Rages Through The Aeon’ brought all these elements in which helped spark the interest a little more. By the fourth track ‘Immortal Sadist II’ everything had came together greatly. The vocals were solid, the riffs chunky, the bass well pronounced and the drumming which was relentless. The leadwork was the only part that failed to come through with enough force but otherwise it was going rather well for the young German outfit.
The band thanked all the other bands and let us know how much it meant for them to be here which was a nice touch as they were bringing their very short but also very sweet set to an end. ‘The Wretched Choir’ may have been the best song of the set and of their EP. The more droning riffs brought their death metal routes to the foray before breaking with that chunky solidity that galvanises the groove so mercilessly. It was a good a song as any to finish with and now it was time for the main event.
Gatecreeper [4.0/5] came onto a fairly more sizable crowd that packed down closer to the front. They opened with the brilliantly bouncing and potent ‘Craving Flesh’ and all was well with the universe. There was an enormous surge in power in comparison to the similar style of Ratlord. It sounded as if the HM-2’s were firing with all their might as the chainsaw riffery, heavily influenced by the likes Dismember, sawed through our ears and went right through into our gooey brain flesh. Vocalist Chase Mason -though not the biggest man in size- absolutely dominated the scene; this man could honestly growl with the best of them.
So many aspects were just excellent: the blasts from drummer Metal Matt, the riffs, the vocals, the inability to synchronise their headbanging… and it was all just adding to a brilliant show. When we got to track four, my personal favourite in ‘Flamethrower’, it’s as if all the planets aligned and it was time to get moving. There’s so much infectious groove in that riff it’s astounding. The mini-pit that emerged dissipated as quickly as it began but there was plenty of headbanging present within the walls of Audio.
All the music was cracking for myself, nothing that is highly original but in this new age of syphoning nostalgia, there’s some sheer quality that can emerge and Gatecreeper have done this almost to perfection. They gave a solid performance and each song thereafter be it ‘Rotting As One’ or ‘Force Fed’ brought something beautifully brutal to the table. We were taken back to the first EP for the penultimate track of the evening before getting a solid finish with some more groovy notes that keep the power flowing. The interchanges between the two guitarists Eric Wagner and Nate Garrett were prolific and so fluid it was truly great to behold.
Short and sweet was the mantra for this evening but it was all good, it would just have been better if there was more. Alas, one can’t be too greedy now but I was highly impressed with the night’s music. Best Necrocracy performance, check. Get to write the word Düsseldorfians, check. And, get some beautiful and brutal groovy death metal, check. All good if you ask me and I look forward to seeing and hearing more from all three of these musical saints.