Overall Score: 9/10 Songs: 9/10 Production: 9/10 Ambition: 10/10 Pros: Another ambitious and creative album from one of rocks best bands Cons: virtually nothing
At this point it seems redundant to call Creeper one of the most innovative and interesting bands in the Rock scene. Much like Code Orange, their particular brand of art is fully immersive, ever evolving and they never make the same thing twice. In fact they have become somewhat known for the emphatic nature with which they close each era of the band.
Sanguivore then, opens the world of Creeper up even further. Another new and twisted chapter in the bands ever changing lore. It of course is a concept record like their other two. This time the focus is on vampirism, with another fatalistic love affair as the story’s centerpiece. The three singles that preceded the album’s release gave no definitive indication of its overall sound, but certainly gave an insight into the vibes that would be prevalent throughout.
Cry to Heaven sounds like it could have been pulled from Floodland, I have no doubt Andrew Eldritch wishes he could still pen a tune that good. Teenage Sacrifice is arena goth rock at its finest and Black Heaven is the kind of synthwave bleakness that makes the Blade Runner score seem upbeat.
These glimpses into the world of Sanguivore are just the tip of the bloodstained iceberg. The album’s opening track Further than Forever distills an entire career’s worth of ideas into 9 minutes of pure bombastic theatricality. Will Gould has been very open about the influence Jim Steinman has had on him and in particular this body of work and it absolutely shows. This feels like the ultimate tribute to the man and his work. With flashes of Pandora’s Box, Meat Loaf and Sisters of Mercy sprinkled throughout, dizzying and dazzling stylistic changes and even a touch of NWOBM at the end. Its a break neck, toe tapping gloriously OTT way to invite listeners into this world.
If Sanguivore was a musical then that would be one hell of an opening number. Sacred Blasphemy & Lovers Led Astray take things back to the punk roots, albeit with a few tweaks. The Ballad of Spook & Mercy takes a page out of Nick Cave‘s book of dark balladry. It also presents the album with one of it’s only missed opportunities, as it feels like it would have benefitted from being a duet, but that is a minor aside.
Chapel Gates is pure psychobilly. Its one of the most irresistible songs Creeper have ever written. A short, sharp shock to the system imbuing the album with a blast of energy in its latter half. The Abyss is a musical interlude that acts as a primer before Black Heaven slinks into view. More than Death is the now customary closing ballad. It feels like a spiritual successor to I Choose to Live, as they share some musical dna. It’s another spine tingling epilogue to close out another chapter.
It seems flippant to say that Creeper have kitchen sinked the writing on Sanguivore, but it also feels apt. This is the most flamboyant, overblown and accomplished the band has ever sounded on record. The narrative is probably the most interesting they have concocted. Every single song stands on its own and can be taken at face value, listening to the album front to back really enriches the experience. It feels bold, it feels silly and it feels like something Jim Steinman would have put in a drawer for a rainy day (in all the best ways) This feels like the album Creeper have not only been threatening to make from the beginning, but the one they have tirelessly been working towards this whole time.
There are minor nitpicks to be had of course. It feels like Hannah is once again sidelined from a vocal perspective and there are moments that could have benefitted from her having more presence. There are also moments on here that in any other bands hands would come across as cheesy and ham fisted, but Creeper manage to make them charming by fully embracing and leaning into the absurdity.
Sanguivore is another masterpiece from a band that seems incapable of operating at anything less than 100%. Sex, Death & The Infinite Void was an album that didn’t work for everyone, but for the fans that tapped out on that album, this will be the one that brings you back. This is pure unfiltered Creeper and a work that feels very much like it was informed by all that came before it, as well as an organic progression for them. There are references and callbacks abound, but nothing that ever slows the momentum of this particular album. I cannot wait to see where they go from here
Sanguivore is out on October 13th via Spinefarm Records