Album Review: Creeper – “Eternity, In Your Arms”
The hype machine’s been in overdrive for Southampton’s Creeper over the past few years, and after a string of EPs and a melodramatic release campaign full of mystique and intrigue, you might be worried that the band are all style over substance. Let’s make it clear from the off though, that simply is not the case as their debut Eternity, In Your Arms more than proves.
Already a contender for album opener of the year, Black Rain helps the band’s theatrical side transfer from social media onto record perfectly, with its spoken word intro providing the calm before the storm of a blistering, yet almost operatic goth punk classic. The soaring melody and nihilistic vocal duelling of Will Gould and Hannah Greenwood will haunt you after a single listen, and things don’t let up on the gang vocal-backed Poison Pens, which veers from punk sneer to devilish creepiness effortlessly.
The unique thing about Creeper is that they’re always ready to throw a curve ball at you, and just as Suzanne seems to be going down the same route as the record’s openers, the band chuck in an epic Meatloaf-style chorus which not only works, it takes the song to a whole new genre-defying level. Similarly, although themes such as death, unrequited love and despair pervade the album, the imagery crafted by songs like Hiding With Boys won’t just resonate with the disaffected youth of today, this is multi-generational stuff and there’s even a little Pete Steele homage tucked away in there as Gould laments about long lost years gone by.
Creeper made a point of burying (physically and metaphorically) many of their old songs ahead of this album’s release, but one that’s made the transition from their earlier EPs is a track that defines the band more than any other, Misery. A stripped back ballad full of self-depreciation, it’s stunningly touching and relatable, and I’ll defy you not to get a shiver down your spine during the oddly triumphant closing chorus. Not only is Eternity… full of instant and vital tunes like this, the album is also brilliantly constructed, mixing light and shade incredibly well; take for example Down Below and Room 309 segueing musically and thematically into one of the most surprising songs on show here, Crickets. You’ll struggle to find a more honest and beautifully raw vocal than Hannah Greenwood’s on this song as she goes from apologetic to apoplectic bitterness in the space of four heartbreaking minutes.
Punky hoedown Darling and the surf spaghetti western of Winona Forever set up the closing euphoria of I Choose To Live, making the record ultimately life-affirming, and pretty much emblazons a musical “To be continued…” at the end of this particular tale; and it’s a tale you’ll be desperate to read the next chapter of. Not only have Creeper produced something stylistically fascinating in Eternity, In Your Arms, they’ve taken the rule book, ripped most of the pages out of it and sewn their own callous heart slap bang into the middle of it.
By honing their craft slowly, not only have Creeper built up an incredible image and fervent fanbase, they've also managed to get their songwriting nigh on perfect, which is incredible for such a relatively new band. Yes, the influence of AFI and Alakaline Trio are still deeply embedded in Creeper's sound, but this is still very much their own unique take on modern dark punk and they're going to have to go some way to better it.