Editors’ Notes With their second album, Arizona death metal squad Gatecreeper would like to coin a phrase: Stadium death metal. “Our goal has always been to write catchy songs,” Gatecreeper vocalist and co-songwriter Chase Mason tells Apple Music. Like its 2016 predecessor, Sonoran Depravation, Deserted sees Mason taking lyrical inspiration from the blast-furnace temperatures and arid landscape of the band’s home state while indulging in some handy double meanings. Musically, he and guitarist and co-songwriter Eric Wagner take cues from Swedish death metal masters like Entombed and Dismember while incorporating unlikely sludge and funeral doom influences. Here Mason takes us track by track through Deserted.

“I wrote this song with the purpose of it being the intro track. It’s got a D-beat-type chorus on it, which is something we've never done before; usually we're doing verses faster and then the chorus slows down a little bit. This is the opposite. And there’s a riff on there I was jokingly calling ‘the Papa Roach riff’—for some reason, it reminds me of their song ‘Last Resort.’ And for the first time in any Gatecreeper song, it has two guitar solos trading off. Nate [Garrett] does a solo and then Eric does a solo. The lyrics and title are pretty literal—about the end of mankind and apocalyptic sorts of themes.”

Puncture Wounds
“This is a song that started out as an Eric song and then it kind of became a collaboration. It has a cool dive-bomb intro, a very Slayer sort of thing. I wanted to try to incorporate some Freddy Madball into the vocal performance, so it’s a hardcore-influenced chorus. And then the second half is very Dismember Massive Killing Capacity with a super Iron Maiden harmonized lead, which I think is cool. When we were writing it, we thought, ‘This is the circle pit song.’ Lyrically, it’s a more of a traditional horror/violence Cannibal Corpse kind of thing. It’s basically just about stabbing somebody.”

From the Ashes
“This is another mostly-Eric banger. It’s definitely more melodic for us. I know it’s influenced by Amon Amarth and bands like that, so we went full melodic on a lot of the parts—way more than we usually do. For the lyrics, it’s sort of motivational: It’s about overcoming difficulties, getting rid of things that are holding you back and facing your fears head-on. So I think that’s something people could relate to.”

“For this one, I tried to write the most simple song that I could. Riff-wise, I wanted to use as few frets as possible and see what I came up with. So it’s super Obituary- and Celtic Frost-influenced. There’s also some different kind of Motörhead double-bass beats on there. The part at the end is like the push-pit part, where people are going to take their shirts off and push each other around. It’s fun to write songs with that in mind. Lyrically, I’d say this is the dirt-doer’s anthem. It’s about committing crimes, basically—just not giving a fuck and doing what you want.”

“This was one of the first songs I wrote for the album. The stuff I write tends to be kind of more murky, atonal death metal stuff, so this one was definitely influenced by that—and a lot of Finnish death metal. I do this kind of black-metal yell in the middle of the song, which is something I’ve never done before. I just tried it in the studio and everyone was like, ‘Yeah, we gotta keep that!’ And then it has a part at the end that’s like a New York death metal slam part. The lyrics are about a higher power or some sort of supreme force—something that’s bigger than me and you—but it’s intentionally vague.”

Barbaric Pleasures
“This is an Eric song. It’s very catchy, very Carcass/Dismember-influenced. To me, it’s almost kind of poppy-sounding at times while still being death metal. It has a kind of groove to it, and I think it's a really cool song. On our last album, I did a death metal love song, ‘Rotting as One,’ so I wanted to keep that theme going lyrically. But this isn’t necessarily a love song—the lyrics are just about fucking, I guess. It’s a very horny song. It’s like a cool, obscene version of a love song.”

Sweltering Madness
“We initially released this song as a single [in 2017], and then re-recorded it for this record. It’s not too much different than the original, but I think the vocals are a little bit different—not lyrically, but performance-wise, because I think I’ve improved since the last time we recorded it. Lyrically, it has a typical Gatecreeper heat and desert sort of theme. It’s about having the heat boil your brains to the point where you go insane and lose control. It’s kind of a desert anthem.”

Boiled Over
“Eric mostly wrote this one, but we collaborated on it and it’s definitely got a Bolt Thrower influence. It just sounds like a tank rolling towards you. Then, in the bridge part, it kinda sounds like Crowbar. We wanted to incorporate that into the death metal formula, which I don’t think a lot of bands are doing. This song could also be interpreted as having a desert theme, but what I was really going for in the lyrics was more of the idea of being angry or resentful and letting it boil over until you explode—or like a fire inside that eventually burns you to death.”

In Chains
“This is another song that Eric came up with the idea for, but then we collaborated. I want to say it almost has some Six Feet Under or Jungle Rot influence, as far as the verses. The chorus has some cool melodies, but it’s not too melodic. Vocally, I tried to do the Cannibal Corpse, more traditional death metal sort of style. And then Eric actually helped me write some of the lyrics. He sent me an article about that sex cult that the girl from Smallville was in—NXIVM, I think it’s called. So the song is about this idea about the leader of a sex cult branding the members and having them almost as slaves.”

Absence of Light
“Eric came up with the first riff for this, and I thought it sounded really sad. I’d been wanting to do a slower death/doom sort of song to end the record—the same way we did on the last one. So I took what he had and wrote the rest of it. It’s basically funeral doom, but in the Gatecreeper style. It’s slower than what we usually do, and there’s a part in there with a three-part guitar harmony, which we’ve never done before. There’s also a little bit of keyboards in there that Nate played. The lyrics I think are on par with the music—I just wrote about depression and suicide. I thought it was fitting to have the album end with a funeral.”


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