Even at only 18 minutes long, Relapse Records’ newly released split by crossover commandos Iron Reagan and desert dwelling death metal gods Gatecreeper still manages to be more fun than records quadruple its length.
At first consideration, these two bands, each at the height of their powers here, might not have seemed the most obvious choice to pair up. But one of the most rewarding aspects of metal culture’s continuing embrace of the split EP/LP format is that it can often bring together two very different acts that wind up forging an almost peanut butter and jelly like symbiosis. This is unquestionably the case here.
The result is a record that gets in, knocks a bunch of shit over, and gets right the fuck back out before you even realize that you’re gently drooling out of the side of your mouth and that it’s time to flip the record over again. Boy, do I love it for that.
Iron Reagan, with 5 tracks here, have the slightly longer set of songs (which sounds kinda silly to say considering one of these tunes "Proudly Unaccountable" is over and out in a mere 43 seconds). But brevity aside, it’s clear these bands are not only having fun but sharing some of their best new material here. With "Warning" and "Burn For This Iron," Reagan has turned in two of my absolute favorite things I’ve heard from them yet, but not one of the five tunes feels like filler. In fact, both sides of the split feel perfectly calibrated for maximum evil. By the time side one is done and the instrumental assault of "Daybreak" -- the first of Gatecreeper’s three new tracks here -- thunders to a close and "Dead Inside" roars to life, I’m pretty much ready to call them one of the best bands the death metal world has to offer right now. "War Has Begun," their third track and the split's closer, is equally thrilling and a perfect ending to this sub-twenty minute monster.
Though each of these bands are hitting the road shortly (Gatecreeper with the fantastic Full of Hell, by the way), these jaunts are sadly separate of each other. Which is why my only complaint here isn’t a complaint at all really, but more the sincere hope that I’ll get to catch them play back-to-back live someday. This is a formula too damn fun not to send these gentleman out into the world to share with live audiences.
Here’s hoping 2018 gifts us with brand new full lengths from these two as well, but for now, this split has made sure that no self-respecting metal fan anywhere will be forgetting about these two acts.