It’s been a few years since we last heard from black and doom metal trio Creeping. The Auckland-based band’s last full-length release was 2011’s savage rite Order of the Snakes. And, in that same year, Creeping also contributed to a split release with French band Glorior Belli. Since then though, all has been quiet, with nary a noise emanating from Creeping’s shadowy lair. Until now.
Creeping are set to return in late August, with bitter graveyard riffs primed and throat-slit growls at the ready on their brand new album, Revenant. But, before we get to that release, I should point out that although it’s been four years since Creeping issued any new releases, interesting musical happenings have been linked to the band in the meantime.
Creeping’s bassist and vocalist Marko Pavlovic, and guitarist Scott Blomfield, also happen to play in devil-rock troupe The House of Capricorn. And if you’ve not heard The House of Capricorn’s last album, the thoroughly wicked Morning Star Rise (released by respected Finnish label Svart Records in late 2014), then you should remedy that situation forthwith.
Morning Star Rise boiled with infernal intent, and The House of Capricorn injected far more fire-and-brimstone black metal into their darkly gothic sound on the album. Creeping also draw from black metal’s armoury, so there’s a linkage there, but there’s definitely nothing vampiric or ornate about the noise Creeping make.
Instead, Creeping conjure the hellfire and damnation in a far filthier fashion via tarnished, charnel house riffs. As mentioned, Order of the Snakes was decidedly vicious. And Revenant continues in that same barbaric vein. But Revenant is even more feral and foreboding. Songs like “Death Knell Offering” and “Scythes Over My Grave” fuse doom, death and black metal into a thick and jagged sound that dispenses all the malevolent musicality that’s required (and expected). But there’s an ice-cold feel running throughout Revenant that secures the all-important bleakness here.
Essentially, listening to tracks like “Cold Soil”, “Drear” and “Revenant” reminds me of those stark and frightful images of Blood Falls in Antarctica. Admittedly, that’s not likely to be the imagery Creeping were aiming to evoke on Revenant. But then, interpretation, especially down this strident and Stygian end of the metal spectrum, is always going to be in the eye and ear of the beholder, in the end.
The point is that, for me, each monolithic song on Revenant oozes nasty imagery that’s smeared across a chilling landscape, conjuring not only unsettling but also befouled scenes. Thus, the bitingly sinister atmosphere on each song on the album becomes just as important as its gnarled musicality. In fact, the doom and gloom aura that shrouds everything is Revenant’s strongest feature overall.
Chiefly, that’s because we’ve all heard blackened death and doom bands before. They’re a dime a dozen. And most of them are working the same ground over and over while allowing their music to be governed by the same set of self-imposed rules.
You want something different. Hell, you need something different. And it doesn’t even have to be anything radical. It just has to be something with a distinctive bark or bite. Like the way Pavlovic’s rasping vocals mix with Blomfield’s eerie riffs and drummer J Wallace’s death-march percussion to create an ambience that’s desolate as Hell.
That gives Revenant more of an individual accent. Or at least, more of a baleful edge. Songs lurch forward in huge, hell-hammering movements. And those necro melodies dig their barbs in, and drag you along. Revenant paints a massive, hope-extinguishing canvas. With Creeping ringing every drop of morbidity from Revenant’s songs, and then adding in even more ghoulish ingredients to amplify the corruption and wretchedness therein.
It’s all extremely well recorded too. Engineered by Ulcerate drummer Jamie Saint Merat––who also designed the album’s artwork––Revenant’s crestfallen mood is surrounded by crawling, catacomb sonics. But though things are all very dark and assuredly grim, never does the music become too murky. There’s plenty of heft and punch to Revenant. But, if you’re looking for blitzkrieg blackened metal that gets to the point in three minutes flat, then you’d best look elsewhere.
Don’t get me wrong, Creeping does break into a sprint on Revenant. But those pulverizing sections where swarms of riffs and percussion collide are not the most intense. Sure, Creeping can batter and pummel. And there’s no question that Creeping’s instrumental attack on Revenant is powerful. But for me, the album really works its way under the skin when Creeping slow things down and begin to twist their sound.
It’s when those sinister whispers buried in “Cold Soil” arise. When the nerve-shredding dissonance corrodes the melodies. Or when notes are dragged out for extra eldritch effect. That’s when Creeping sound the most nightmarish on Revenant. That’s when they mirror their moniker best of all. That’s when they’re at their most diabolic; prodding at your fears with glee.
Ultimately, Revenant is dirty, heavy, and unmistakably misanthropic. Plus, it just oozes all that doom, madness, and despair. That’s about as good a return as Creeping (or the band’s fans) could have hoped for. Not that words like ‘good’ really have anything to do with Creeping’s character.
Keep an eye out in late August for Revenant’s release on noted labels Iron Bonehead and Daemon Worship. In the meantime, check out the hateful triumph of “Scythes Over My Grave” below.