July 27, 2020 Creeper – Sex, Death & The Infinite Void (Album Review)
Us vampires must be careful with one another’s hearts because we all hurt. Here to remind us of this fact, and to provide an exceptional soundtrack of melancholic poetry, Creeper delivers Sex, Death, & The Infinite Void on Friday, July 31st, 2020, via Roadrunner Records.
In 2017, Creeper gained massive traction in North America thanks to the Vans Warped Tour. Of course the release of their debut album, Eternity, In Your Arms didn’t hurt either, demanding attention of listeners and the media alike. Immediately landing at No. 1 on the UK Rock & Metal Albums chart, it earned the band praise from NME and Rock Sound, along with awards from Kerrang! and Metal Hammer. With only three years beneath their collective belt as a band, the Southampton, UK sextet found themselves at the center of a maelstrom that saw them sharing stages with the likes of the Misfits, Pierce The Veil, Andy Black, Waterparks, Neck Deep, and more.
Then they disappeared for a year after feigning a break-up onstage at the legendary KOKO in Camden, UK. Likely a tribute to the late, great David Bowie, despite the subtle theatrics, no one really believed that the band had called it quits. Thankfully it was a farce, and in November 2019, the release of a single/video for “Born Cold” gave fans the very first taste of the reincarnated Creeper—Vocalist Will Gould, Guitarists Ian Miles and Oliver Burdett, Bassist Sean Scott, Drummer Dan Bratton, and Keyboardist/Vocalist Hannah Greenwood—and it was all the dramatic Rock-n-Roll anyone could hope for.
Continuing to obliterate the formula and reinvent themselves, after a postponement due to our friend COVID-19, Creeper are finally set to release their sophomore disc, Sex, Death & The Infinite Void. Produced by Xandy Barry (Miley Cyrus, Lea Michele), the 15-song LP sees a genre-fluid band combining Punk and ‘70s Glam Rock with everything from Americana to Britpop, all while crafting sonic gems with the brilliance of The Verve confessing their darkness to Tiger Army.
Sex, Death & The Infinite Void opens as storm clouds rain an ironically dark mood upon the 46 second introduction, “Hallelujah!” One of four Spoken Word interludes throughout the album, it helps to craft a piece of art that feels more like a cohesive narrative than a simple collection of songs. Though, however you see it, it sets the stage for the first proper track, “Be My End.” Searching for the one to be our Armageddon, Creeper celebrates the glorious ends of days with a track that would be at home on The Black Parade, though there’s a slight Rockabilly feel that keeps it from devolving into a cheap My Chem derivative. It, like the band that has produced it, is all very dramatic, dark, gothic, and delicious.
That first taste of this new era, “Born Cold,” opens to Miles and Burdett’s guitars as Gould reaches for the heavens, vocally. Next, they mold a cinematic feel that swirls in some dusty grit for “Cyanide,” expanding the band’s sound profile while paying homage to everyone’s favorite Bundy, Christina Applegate. At merely 18 seconds, “Celestial Violence” bridges the gap into “Annabelle.” If you remember the show-stopping “Suzanne” off Eternity, In Your Arms, well, this is not that. Instead, the retro-lovely rocker “Annabelle” walks away from the Alkaline Trio-esque verses of its forebear and sees Gould harnessing his inner Gerard Way. Oh, and that tag line—“God can’t save us, so let’s live like sinners!”—was made for merch!
Meanwhile, if Quentin Tarantino redrafted Bonnie & Clyde for 2020, you would have the sultry, neon nostalgia of the cinematic “Paradise.” This flows languidly into the straight-up rocker “Poisoned Heart,” an astounding performance that allows Gould to travel deep into his impressive vocal range for some folksy Americana feels. Seemingly an act that’s impossible to follow, “Thorns of Love” does its best by maintaining that Rockabilly sway and blossoming into the duet “Four Years Ago,” which features the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra. Here, Greenwood and Gould play off one another, leading their bandmates into an ‘80s inflected moment that brings to mind Steve Perry and Journey, and the universal appeal of a killer Soft Rock.
“Darling, we could run forever, but forever will not be long enough,” promises the 23 second “Holy War.” This sets the stage for the band to pick back up with thick bass for “Napalm Girls,” an infectiously gritty, violently punk-licious rocker with explosive choruses that would fit beautifully among the material on their epic debut. Then the final Spoken Word interlude, 7 second “The Crown of Life,” gives listeners a chance for a breath before Creeper begins another sing-along worthy offering, the moody “Black Moon.” Making a murderer out of love, it allows Miles to wail out a killer, though succinct guitar solo.
In the end, they take the album’s title from its grand finale, Britpop ballad “All My Friends.” A beautifully melancholic piano and vocal piece, it shows the breadth of Creeper’s abilities and their respect for all forms of music. In fact, as a whole, Sex, Death & The Infinite Void never stops exploring, churning out an eclectic array of tracks influenced by the ‘70s, ‘80s, ‘90s and beyond.
A true artist considers their words but also their aesthetic, conjuring a package that fans come to associate with their creative output. For Creeper, that means amalgamating the bratty attitude of Punk with homages to Folk/Country storytellers such as Johnny Cash and Roy Orbison, peppering in the dramatics of Britpop, and sprinkling it all with macabre prose. While other young bands are trying to build off a simple base of 1970’s schtick, these Brits are using the glitz and the panache of yesteryear to up their own, truly unique ante.
To call them Goth or Emo, to place them into any singular categorization would be to demean the entire Creeper experience. Whereas one might have compared their debut to “Alkaline Trio meets Meatloaf,” Sex, Death, & The Infinite Void sees them evolving toward something that is further refined, less raw, and boldly colossal—something we shall term Johnny Cash meets My Chemical Romance. We consider that to be a win no matter how you slice it! So black hearts rejoice, Cryptic Rock gives Creeper’s latest 5 of 5 stars.