It is just heavy enough to get the blood to a boil while keeping the length just precise enough to be digested in 17 minutes. That means that the eight total tracks, well seven if you take out the 11 minute closer; is a combination meal big enough for a light lunch. With an average track run time of around a solid minute, Gatecreeper is working on ends of this spectrum with tempo and with adjusting or refining their arching doom scale.
Layers peek out similar to their older releases, but almost as soon as the blast beats on “Starved” his the wax, An Unexpected Reality is a harsh dragging through the mud. Being tied to a 20-ton vehicle and being pulled into uncertain demise might not sound like an ideal situation, but Gatecreeper thrives under the wheels.
Where their 2019 Deserted was an extended heap of wires and ligaments that connected, An Unexpected Reality is more refined and easier to dissect. Like a surgeon under immense heat lamps, Gatecreeper holds the audience in place as they deliberately make lacerations.
By the time that “Rusted Gold” hits only two minutes into the record, pretty much desolation is the name of the game. An Unexpected Reality is not just commanding for time and for the eyes to watch, but it starts mosh pits in this never-ending quarantined hell. Think, as if the rapid metallic percussive bursts of bass and cymbals in the face weren’t enough, Gatecreeper moves in hooks and hammers disguised as the bass and guitars. Then as the vocals which are less about screeches and more about the grime underneath a smashed skull, the mixing pot becomes unbearable.
Everything on An Unexpected Reality points to these signs of being led up into the lengthy swan song, “Emptiness.” Frankly, a step in the right direction and a reprieve from the consistent smashing in the record’s first half of runtime. “Emptiness” is still built like a house of bricks, but the audience can catch their breath before being submerged in concrete.
With guitars that stretch out instead of crunch, a string section that is more closely related to beauty and rebirth than any sort of decay and death. “Emptiness” is illustrative of the diversity that Gatecreeper can touch upon without really forcing in the face. It comes naturally and is a perfect ender to this unstoppable onslaught that seems never-ending.
An Unexpected Reality does what so many bands and records have tried; to branch outside of the usual and truly experiment with their capabilities. It keeps the overcoat fresh where previous paint jobs have chipped while pushing a new agenda that meets the audience with a slow burn instead of a scorching flame.