Creeping’s combination of doom, death are the stuff from which horrors are made on ‘Revenant’

CreepingI don’t often have nightmares that include music. If I have, I don’t remember having them, so the experience pretty much was lost on me. But now and again I’ll hear something and think that it would be ideal to hear while unconscious, exploring the weird caverns of my brain.

Doom/death beasts Creeping always seemed to be a band that could fit the bill. Loud and grimy, punishing and disturbing, they’ve spent the past decade making music that sounds ominous and foreboding. They don’t waste their time trying to make things more horrific than they are. They’re not attempting to make a horror film here. Instead, they tap into the darkness and terror of existence with aplomb and give you something a little more tangible to freeze you in your tracks. Or in other words, they splash their records with audio nightmares. Their latest album “Revenant” keeps delivering that morbidity, twisting and turning your anxiety over the course of five tracks and 31 minutes of hell. The record’s so massive, in fact, it can’t be contained on a single label. Iron Bonehead is handling the vinyl edition, while Daemon Worship is putting out the CD. Each version will have different artwork as well.

Creeping coverThe New Zealand-based band is comprised of members of The House of Capricorn and Abystic Ritual with Marko Pavlovic on bass and vocals; Scott Blomfield on guitars; and James Wallace on drums. After a debut EP in 2005, the band released their first proper full-length “Funeral Crawl” in 2007, with “Order of Snakes” arriving in 2011. The only other new music from the band came on a 2011 split with Glorior Belli, making “Revenant” the first fresh material from the band in the past four years. Things sound just as bleak and vicious as ever for Creeping, so hopefully their new label affiliations will help pique interest in the band. Certainly anyone with a death and doom appetite are going to find themselves fulfilled.

The record begins with the seven-minute “Death Knell Offering,” opening with funeral bells, doom riffs, and mournful melodies. The vocals are a guttural growl, and as guitars begin raining down, the pace gets into uneasy dream territory, and the waters grow murkier as the song builds. In fact, it starts to feel like a chilled, relentless rain storm is moving in, with the music creating thick, impenetrable fog where you barely can see five feet in front of you. That continues right up to the end, when the track slowly fades away. “Scythes Over My Grave” is the longest cut at 9:07 and ignites right away, with the track taking on a black metal feel. The bulk of the song does a fantastic job doing bodily harm and smothering you, with melodies intertwined into the chaos, raw-sounding howls emanating from Pavlovic’s throat, and later the track going cold. But that doesn’t last as the fires start burning again, the growls churn, and the song rises to a blinding glimmer before fading away.

“Cold Soil” is a quick one, a slow-moving, whisper-filled track that feels like it’s taking you into a weird patch of serenity before the death vibe returns and the brute force leads into “Drear.” This one opens in the midst of choppy waters, driving hard and standing as one of the most punishing cuts on the record. The vocals once again come across as harsh and unforgiving, and out of yet another misleading dose of serenity, the band comes out on the other side dealing vicious body blows. The song smears and pounds, with doom-infested sentiments returning before it disappears into the night. The closing title cut has guitars lighting up right away, with some cool, spindly riffs leading the way, a strong melody sneaking up from behind, and an epic sense injected into the song’s DNA. There’s a nice, gray texture behind the mix here, with the final minute really coming to life with heaviness, guitars splashing down in sheets, and a dizzying, grisly conclusion that caps off this awesome trip.

Creeping are in good hands as far as labels are concerned, and they delivered a damn strong record after being away for the past four years. “Revenant” hits hard, makes you feel spooky inside, and definitely could be a welcome addition to any nightmare. Certainly Creeping are not alone in making dark death and doom concoctions; they just happen to do it as well as any other group currently trying to do the same thing.

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