Band: Iron Reagan/Gatecreeper
Label: Relapse Records
Genre: Crossover/Hardcore & Death Metal
Release Date: 2 March, 2018
A split is a hard thing to review. It’s not by definition a cohesive album. There are multiple bands with the potential for multiple styles on display. The question arises: what is the purpose of these bands putting out one joint work? Sometime the answer is that there is a confluence of sonic and lyrical themes that the bands’ different approaches can render different perspectives on. In other cases the motivation behind a split seems to have far more to do with non-artistic considerations. The latter seems to be the case behind this latest material from Iron Reagan and Gatecreeper.
Municipal Waste offshoot, Iron Reagan deliver a very thrashy version of hardcore punk complete with political lyrics and admonitions to all the squares that just don’t get it. Gatecreeper, meanwhile, is the latest in the slew of “Entombed-core” style of death metal bands that drink from the well of HM-2 guitar tones and punky d-beating drums, and they bring a nice range of old school death metal influences to the fore (particularly Bolt Thrower). While these are not totally opposite sounds (one band playing a metallic version of hardcore punk, the other a historically punk influenced strain of death metal) they are not completely complimentary. Rather than any musical balance, the bands are put on this split because they are friends and on the same label. There’s nothing wrong with this of course, but it has yielded a collection of songs rather than any sort of directed artistic expression.
That’s not to say this is a bad collection of songs. The Iron Reagan half of the album fits in neatly with the work they’ve done previously. The five songs are all around two minutes save the 44 second one. There are furious riffs and punky drums. The bass is mixed pleasingly high (and has several sections that shine interestingly) and Tony Foresta barks out his anger in a typical punk shout. There are no revelations to be had, no breakthroughs in style, but that’s not necessarily what anyone is looking for in crossover.
Gatecreeper meanwhile is given two songs and an intro. These songs fit neatly in the mold of what they did on their debut Sonoran Depravation. There are catchy death metal riffs accompanied by thunderous drums (the double bass sounds wonderful) and standard death growls. The sound is similar to a tank driving over the masses driven before it, as all good death metal should. The two songs stay around 3 minutes and do not overstay their welcome; compact and brutal riffs are delivered, a nice lead thrown in, and then the band is gone. As with Iron Reagan, there are no surprises lurking around some murky corner, simply competent music delivered in the style one would expect from this band.
The hope for this split going in was that both bands might modify their styles semi-drastically to compliment the others. It would have been interesting to hear Iron Reagan throw in some brutal bits or for Gatecreeper to up the punk in a song. As it is this is a collection of songs from two bands, and it feels like it. The transition from the Iron Reagan half to the Gatecreeper half is jarring, and the ominous intro that the death metallers provide does not really do anything to ease the move.
This is a hard album to rate. If one is a fan of these two bands, then, hey, here’s more material from both of them. It’s fairly good on its own, and is definitely worth picking up. Looking at the gestalt, though, this seems like a project of disparate songs held together by the trappings of some admittedly good artwork. Because of this, I’m going to rate this a bit lower than the quality of the material demands, but this shouldn’t turn a fan off. If you want more Iron Reagan, or more Gatecreeper, or you want to check the two bands out, this isn’t a bad place to start.
1. Iron Reagan – Warning
2. Iron Reagan – Paper Shredder
3. Iron Reagan – Take the Fall
4. Iron Reagan – Proudly Unaccountable
5. Iron Reagan – Burn for This
6. Gatecreeper – Daybreak (Intro)
7. Gatecreeper – Dead Inside
8. Gatecreeper – War Has Begun
Total Playing Time: 18:08