Coming off the back of the critically acclaimed Eternity, in your arms, Creeper are back with their second album Sex, Death & The Infinite Void and I think it’s fair to say that my expectations were all over the place on the run-up to this release.
Given Creeper’s back catalogue up to this point, I couldn’t help but set the bar stupidly high. On the other hand, when I heard that Creeper had hired producer Xandy Barr for this record who has next to zero experience in the world of rock and punk, I think I’d be forgiven for worrying that the Southampton sextet might have visions of leaving the scene behind.
Single releases like Born Cold, which although does sound like the Creeper I know and love, definitely had a new feel to it and Cyanide which is a complete left turn from what I was expecting have all further blurred those expectations while releases such as Be My End and Annabelle which are classic Creeper tunes at their best just confused me as to what this album could be even more. As it turns out, this album is nothing short of a modern day masterpiece which ascends above the scene it was born from.
It’s not uncommon for listeners like yours truly to completely change their tune on a single after hearing it in context with the overall record and that was definitely the case with Cyanide. Sex, Death & The Infinite Void comes flying out the gate with the big hitters which you expect to hear from a band as talented as Creeper.
Cyanide is dropped right in the middle of Be My End, Born Cold and Annabelle, and in contrast against those bangers, it stands out beautifully and made me appreciate the song on a whole new level. Not to take away from the aforementioned tracks though as all three of them are gigantic anthems which should be being played in front of a packed festival audience or a full stadium, and the fact that they currently reside in venues more akin to a dingy basement is a poor reflection on the current state of the industry.. but that’s another argument for another time.
After a relatively safe opening of classic Creeper hits, the band begin to get experimental as they take the listener on a musical journey with the likes of Paradise, Poisoned Heart and Thorns of Love.
It’s at this point of the album when fans of Creeper songs like Poison Pens and Room 309 may lose interest. Stick with it though and keep an open mind and you will be rewarded with songs that are so well written, so well produced and feel like they belong in an old Hollywood classic movie while never losing that gothic aesthetic that Creeper are known for.
Admittedly when I first heard Paradise, I was unsure. After a few listens though, I now find myself counting down the seconds for the bridge that leads perfectly to the big saxophone and guitar duet which is both wonderfully weird and excellent at the same time. I had very similar experience with the Johnny Cash-esque Poisoned Heart which has found itself stuck in my head for days now. If I’d never heard of Creeper and you told me this was a famous song decades old which the entire world knows, I don’t think I’d question it. It’s that good and already feels timeless.
Then came the stand out of them all for me – Thorns of Love. As a huge fan of Jim Steinman and Meat Loaf, this song is something that I have craved for years and the fact that Creeper have managed to deliver it at such a high standard has put them in a league above everyone else for this nostalgic old listener.
There’s a good reason why the huge Jim Steinman theatrical gothic style of music is rarely replicated, and that’s because it’s so hard to pull off and comes off as cheesy and terrible when done wrong. It needs to sound massive which this does. Will Gould’s vocal performance in this (and the entire album) has risen to a new level that very few can compete with, then after the interlude which wouldn’t sound out of place in West End’s top musicals, Ian Miles comes in with one of the best guitar solos I have ever heard and is good enough to go down in history with the best of them.
Creeper have tip toed around a song like this since their early EP days but I still can’t help but be surprised by its quality. I’m going to steal this line from Ryan De Frietas from last week’s That’s Not Metal podcast (go check it out, it’s great) when he spoke about Thorns of Love he said: “If Andrew Lloyd Webber had wrote this song, we’d have to watch a fucking movie about it!” And he’s right, because it’s little old punk-goth Creeper from Southampton, I can’t help but fear this song may not get the recognition it deserves, but the cream always rises to the top and hopefully with time, people will understand how huge this track really is.
The additional of keyboardist Hannah Greenwood on vocals for Creeper in recent years has given them a new layer of quality and her first real solo track on Eternity, in your arms with the fantastic Crickets was a real highlight of that album. The follow up to that comes in the form of Four Years Ago which may even surpass Crickets. Hannah’s vocal performance in this song is as good as anything else on this album and she continues to prove to be one of the best things to ever happen to this band.
As this musical journey races towards its climax, Creeper take some time to remind us why they’re one of the best pop punk bands on the planet with Napalm Girls which is arguably the most exciting track on this incredible album and is likely to debut on Creeper’s setlist when the world returns back to normal and never leave it.
Black Moon is the punultimate song on the record and feels like a culmination of the experimentation that has infused the entirety of Sex, Death & The Infinite Void which at its heart is still a Creeper record down to it’s black heart. Black Moon is so undeniably Creeper from beginning to end but bigger. It represents what this album has been, a collection of timeless tracks that don’t fit into any particular genre but is Creeper through and through.
Sex, Death & The Infinite Void sticks the landing with perfection thanks to All My Friends. Fans of Misery and I Choose to Live know exactly how effective Creeper are with these acoustic heart felt classics. You can feel the emotion pouring out of Will with every personal lyric about how he feels about his close friends. It’s a song that every one of us can connect to much like the album as a whole.
It’s only in writing this review that it’s truly hit me how important this album is to modern music. Creeper could have easily gone and recorded Eternity, in your arms part 2 and still been showered with praise by critics and their hardcore fans. Instead they’ve taken a huge risk in an attempt to not sound like anything else in their former scene or any other for that matter. The result is Sex, Death & The Infinite Void, an album which stands above most as a shining example of pushing past what is expected of a band and becoming something much, much more. I give this masterpiece..
Creeper are a band that deserve a lot more love in this world so help them out while helping us and yourself out at the same time by picking up this brilliant album as well as Eternity, in your arms in the links below.