English rock band Creeper are, to put it mildly, one for theatrics. When they first emerged in 2014, with the gusto of AFI mixed with the storytelling darkness of a modern-day Edgar Allan Poe, they drew notice for their gothic, punk-horror sound. What was most compelling about the six-piece, however, was the fresh vigour they brought to the rock genre, and therefore a follow-up album was always going to be hard to pull off.
Where Eternity, In Your Arms was all grandiose riffs and dramatic tempo, Creeper’s latest offering, the rather menacingly named Sex, Death & The Infinite Void, reinvents the band with a moodier, capricious sound laced with cinematic decrepitude; their ostentatiously gothic narratives still front and centre after faking their own demise in 2018. On Be My End, Frontman Will Gould trills a radio-friendly, soaring pop chorus that is as danceable as it is darkly romantic.
Tracks like Born Cold, show Gould experiment with more brash vocals – guttural screams included – and Thorns of Love has a vibrant ’80s sound where Gould’s crooning seduces the most, enticing you into what feels like it may be a velvet-lined coffin. Tracks like Black Moon and Annabelle are less memorable sonically, leaning heavily into over-done tropes of the rock genre, but even these are enjoyable.
Whilst this album deals with dark, expansive storylines, both instrumentally and vocally, it is clear that Creeper are happiest making music, and can cover both melodrama and sobering reality with ease. Four Years Ago mourns an all-consuming, doomed relationship, whilst finale All My Friends is quietly poignant. Featuring little else but soft piano and Goulding’s signature over-pronounced vocals reminiscent of Bowie mixed with Brendon Urie, All My Friends is a lyrically deft tribute to the pains of adulthood, showing that whilst Creeper enjoy their theatrics, they don’t need it to make a good track…or to make you cry.
In a world where the genre of rock has seemed fairly uninspired as of late, Creeper have more than a wealth of ideas – and it is clear from this album’s production that the band have worked on streamlining their sound. Instead of closing up their chaotically exciting energy, it only seems to have made their album feel more liberated than anything they have done previously. Sex, Death & The Infinite Void resembles The Rocky Horror Picture Show if you were to watch it on a rollercoaster in the dark: it’s thrilling, coquettishly idiosyncratic, and filled to the brim with palpable pride at their lack of creative limits. If it’s one thing no critic could ever say Creeper lacks, it’s ambition, and here it really pays off.