After receiving a whole lot of love from the UK music press, including ‘Best British Newcomer’ and ‘Best New Band’ awards from publications like Kerrang! and Metal Hammer respectively, Southampton horror-punks Creeper have a lot riding on their newest full-length effort, Sex, Death & the Infinite Void. Off the back of a string of successful EP’s and the release of their critically acclaimed debut album, Eternity, In Your Arms (2017), the English sextet set about expanding their distinctive brand of melodramatic punk-rock on LP#2.
Across 15 tracks and a mostly tight 40-minute runtime, the listener is often playing a tiresome game of ‘This Song Sounds Like This Band,’ and it’s this constant distraction which eats away at the band’s staying power and the record’s overall impact. For all its macabre imagery and gloomy post-punk aesthetics, the biggest fault on Sex, Death & the Infinite Void is that Creeper can’t seem to hide—or, for that matter, reinterpret—their influences all too well, with admirable performances that ultimately fall victim to their sources of derivation.
The most egregious of these sonic inspirations manifest as a profound love for punk rock stalwarts Alkaline Trio and AFI, particularly within frontman Will Gould’s vocals and lyrical phrasing, found on upbeat tracks like “Be My End” and “Napalm Girls.” During the misanthropic bop of “Cyanide,” Gould struts through playful verses, intoning about suicide, Christina Applegate, and “black lipstick on her coffee cup”—lines that could almost be ripped straight off From Here To Infirmary.
Elsewhere on the record, driving chorus refrains recall the melancholic reverie of My Chemical Romance (“Black Moon” and “Annabelle”), alongside detours into HIM-flavored goth-pop (“Born Cold” and “Poisoned Heart”) and old-timey rock numbers that would make The Gaslight Anthem envious (“Thorns of Love” and “Paradise”).
However, the band’s secret weapon comes in the form of Hannah Greenwood, whose piano, keyboard, and violin contributions add vibrancy and depth to the band’s mix. On the mournful “Four Years Ago,” Greenwood gets her turn at a heart wrenching, acoustic ballad, and the simple arrangement and fragile vocals make the track a real standout moment. While their biggest issue may be a lack of cohesive musical identity, it isn’t entirely fair to begrudge Creeper for wearing these influences so comfortably on their leather-jacket sleeves. That said, it would seem difficult for the group to carve out a distinct niche in a genre as over-saturated and stress-tested as punk rock.
As entertaining as it is existentially curious, Sex, Death & the Infinite Void is by no means a bad record and is sure to satiate many devout fans. And yet, despite the inclusion of a few standout tracks, it still fails to shake that all-too-familiar feeling of ‘I’ve heard this before.’ Until Creeper fully realize the depth and range of their musical ambition, their sound will remain the simple sum of its more obvious parts.
Purchase Sex, Death & the Infinite Void here.