When fans and journalists alike were clamouring for a modern-day equivalent of My Chemical Romance, out of the ashes of the UK hardcore underground sprung Creeper, who seemed far more likely to carry on that mantle to many.
With a string of EPs, the grand and ambitious debut full-length ‘Eternity, In Your Arms’, and unapologetic pomp, they amassed a fanbase who knew every word to every song, and ate right out of their hands. But, it evidently became too much for the South Coast horror punks, prompting them to fake their own break-up onstage in 2018, effectively setting fire to the god-like worship and fervour they had inspired. In a world where the schedule seems to be to simply record, release, tour, then repeat, Creeper just won’t conform.
Born out of an incredibly turbulent period for the band, and acting as a complete overhaul of everything from their sound to their image, their new era begins with their sophomore effort, ‘Sex, Death, & The Infinite Void’.
With spoken word interludes helping to interweave their new sprawling rock opera, this is very much best listened to from start-to-finish. ‘Hallelujah!’ segues into ‘Be My End’, and while this is Creeper to a tee, from the dramatic storytelling to the undeniable chorus, there’s still so much more to come.
‘Cyanide’ is perhaps the biggest indicator of change, with the David Bowie influence that was always there coming right to the fore, but ‘Annabelle’ may just be the best song on the album. Hearing Creeper and Britpop in the same sentence may make you think that they’re making dumbed-down music for people to swill beer to, but it’s effectively Suede‘s ‘Trash’ for goths; a wild-sounding proposition on paper, but they’ve got it 100% right. And the middle will send fans into raptures, with the “God has left the building” line seemingly designed to be immortalised forever.
Still, another left turn appears with ‘Paradise’, which could have only been made in LA. This piece is as dark and a cinematic as it gets, and we’re reminded of Will Gould‘s mightily impressive ability to go from a high-pitched belt to a croon at the drop of a hat.
‘Thorns Of Love’ has a distinct swinging feel to it, and has one of the strongest choruses, taking the templates of The Darkness and Queen but adding their own distinct flavour of drama and tongue-in-cheek morbidity. While the spoken-word sections sometimes feel a little unnecessary, they still provide something to talk about, and they still aren’t as distracting as they could be.
‘Four Years Ago’ is a country ballad, which can be hit-or-miss when rock bands gravitate towards this, but we have another highlight that completes with many other highlights. A remorseful duet, Hannah Greenwood‘s vocal provides a perfect counterpoint to Gould‘s, making this her moment to shine.
‘Napalm Girls’ is perhaps the closest to Creeper‘s older releases, with another monstrous chorus to boot, but there’s an even sharper left turn on the way.
Inspired by the hospitalisation of guitarist Ian Miles, ‘All My Friends’ is Gould at a piano, exorcising the horror of those events. With a more restrained vocal delivery, all of the emotion is laid bare, and is concrete proof that there’s so much more to Creeper than the surface-level theatrics.
‘Sex, Death & The Infinite Void’ is not the Creeper of old sound-wise, and it could well divide opinion amongst existing fans, but it could perhaps be the boldest, and yes, the most punk move that Creeper have made to date.
The best bands always challenge what people thought they knew about them, and would never, ever be content with treading the same mediocrity-infused waters over and over again. Where Creeper go next is only known by the band themselves.