Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats
The Night Creeper
(Rise Above Records)
The Doom scene has been abuzz for the past several years due to an influx of fanatical Sabbath followers and retro heshers armed to the hilt with Orange amps and Gibson SGs. In spite of the fact that originality is hard to come by in any current genre, some are very adept at cranking out their own approximations of this greasy and dank primordial sludge, while others tend to rely solely on varied iterations of Iommi riffery and stoner prose.
Enter Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats. The band—led by mastermind Kevin R. Starrs—has bucked the trends with a heady mix of vintage sounds, theatrical imagery and crossover appeal that may eventually doom their own Doom following. A hybrid of Ozzy-era Sabbath, The Beatles’ White Album and at least half of the legendary Vertigo Records catalog of the early ’70s, the band has managed to create something a little different, as further evidenced on its fourth outing The Night Creeper.
Starrs’ obvious affection for ’60s psychedelia and pop culture, pulp novels and Hammer Horror films accentuates the music while creating a dark aura sprinkled with sarcasm and irony. The imagery gives the package a certain hip factor that’s ripe for crossover. We’ve seen this done in recent years by the likes of Marilyn Manson and Rob Zombie, but the Acidic ones succeed in actually transporting the experience to another place and time entirely. The band’s melodic, proto-metal sound coupled with the macabre imagery functions like a portal back to late-’60s London, where miniskirts were micro, horror films were rife with lush color palettes and there was an influx of heavy, proggy and experimental music emanating from the dirty basement flats.
Musically, The Night Creeper is a solid offering, in spite of the fact that it doesn’t tread much new ground. (2011’s breakthrough Blood Lust still stands as the Uncle’s top offering.) Opener “Waiting For Blood” sets the tone with a hypnotically repetitive rhythm and Starrs’ sneering Lennon-esque vocals. “Murder Nights” takes the formula a bit further with a spidery Iommi-style riff and rolling vocal harmonies that up the pop factor, while maintaining its eerie aura. “Yellow Moon” is a strange little instrumental ditty that could easily fit as ambient background music in one of several Amicus horror films of the early ’70s.
Things perk up a bit on the bittersweet “Melody Lane” with its wispy refrain and angular riffs. The CD also has a “hidden track” in the form of the atmospheric anti-ballad “Black Motorcade” that showcases Starrs’ more sensitive side.
The Night Creeper revels in its vintage flair. But its dry production keeps it humming at a steady pace without stretching the band’s sonic boundaries. And while the formula works like a charm overall, a more dynamic production may have pushed things just enough over the top for the band to make an even bigger impact on this fourth album. (Jim Kaz)