Creeping – Order of Snakes …   Leave a comment

Creeping is a band from Auckland, New Zealand, and belongs to the local, incredibly lively black metal scene.

New Zealand is a charming country with still some great untouched natural beauties and a lot of sheep. And a lot of rockers and metallers, apparently … This relatively small and far-off country seems to be fatherland to a surprising number of noteworthy bands devoted to genres ranging from infectious groovy heavy rock down to the most vicious or hellish black metal. And the funny thing is that sometimes the same musicians provide tunes belonging to several contrasting categories!

This ambivalence may be either explained through scarcity of local musicians against sheep or, better, by the fact that NZ rockers and metallers are some eclectic people …

Band Creeping is an example of this ambivalence and, especially, eclectic attitude, in many aspects.

Creeping’s line-up includes Marko Pavlovic on bass and vocals, Scott Blomfield on guitar and Jamie Wallace on drums.

These nasty-looking but friendly metallers are variably involved with other killer NZ bands, such as the powerful heavy stoner-doom act The House of Capricorn (a new, second album out soon …) and the nasty death metal and grindcore bands Ulcerate and Graymalkin.

Here is Creeping’s official, essential bio:

“Creeping is a grimey 3 piece band from the Swamps below One Tree Hill, Auckland, New Zealand. Started in 2004, one album (‘Funeral Crawl’ – out on Asphyxiate Records) and one split release with Glorior Belli (‘Rites of Spiritual Death’ – out on Necroterror Records).”

The reason for which a black metal band like Creeping is here is twofold, and linked to their last two full-length albums, the 2007 album Funeral Crawl and the brand new one, Order of Snakes.

Creeping’s killer 2007 album Funeral Crawl was a vicious but absolutely ravishing and dragging masterpiece of “Swamp” or “Stoner Black Metal”. That album was saluted by reviewers and bloggers in various colourful ways, like “Kyuss meet Darkthrone with a lot of drugs”, “Down playing black metal”, or again “unholy wedding of themes drawn from Isengard, Reverend Bizarre, but esp. Sabotage and Vol. 4-era Black Sabbath”.

Marko & friends like to mix styles and stupefy, and they did both things well back in 2007.

left to right: J. Wallace // S. Blomfield // M. Pavlovic

The band’s style was a curious mixture of authentic doped stoner and southern sludge groove with some vitriolic punkish black metal. This powerful, evil but very enjoyable style might be compared to the one developed by a few other bands like the US acts Blood Cult and  Tjoltjar. Only occasional deviations from that imprint had lead the band towards the gloomy territories of darkest doom-death heaviness.

In the 7 tracks of the new album Order of Snakes, Creeping have changed their style a bit instead of continuing along the groove-laden black’n’rollish beaten path. They actually have wide and loud developed those seeds of gloomy heaviness they had disseminated throughout the groove of the previous album.

The new style is considerably darker and grimer and heavier than before and is totally drenched with Doom. But the band didn’t forget their raw black metal roots, which are the elements that keep the new music fresh and dynamic.

The guys still enjoy mixing styles and genres.

Their excursions into the doom realm lead them to insert and play around with different shades of doom grading from Saint Vitus/Reverend Bizarre-styled riffs to atmospheric epic tones, to gloomy post-metal dissonance (but not too much, just the right amount).

All this is glued by some amazing explosions of  furious mid-tempo to fast punkish/thrashy black metal à-la-Darkthrone-Hellhammer which, however, sometimes evolves towards a more epic style à-la-Bathory. This raw to epic black metal component in Creeping’s sound is expressed at its best in the killer track “Pestilential Rain”

Vocals are fierce and made of deep death metal growls, although some raspy roars are drenched with black metal evil. The structure of the tracks is complex. In spite of the dynamic black metal insertions, the overall impression of Creeping’s new songs is of oppressive slowness and plodding heaviness, with some haunting atmospheres.

The slowest and most plodding parts remind me a lot of Triptykon and also Runemagick, or else, when the sounds are almost “martial” they remind me of a “tamed” but still biting, slightly slowered-down version of the war metal in the last album by their country-mates Diocletian.

But the level of heaviness is kept high also when the band suddenly steers towards somehow lighter, alienating, dark, dissonant and reverberating sounds more typical of post-metal or some depressive, atmospheric black metal, e.g., as in Brown Jenkins or similar bands.

In other occasions the band’s guys adopt a few features (riffs, rhythms, vocal style) typical of epic doom which evoke gloomy but sophisticated, early Paradise Lost-like atmospheres, but leave the gothic “melodrama” out. Try, for example the third and the sixth, long, beautiful tracks “The Cavernous Light” and “Crawling Into Hell”, and, of course, parts of the +11 minutes long closing track Temple of Graves.

All these (doom and black-death) components are merged one into the other in such a smooth way that you may expect anything, but that anything will come as natural.

The quality of the sound in this album is very high, thanks to Jamie Saint-Merad (from band Ulcerate) who took care of all engineering, mixing, mastering and even of the essential, creepy artwork.

In an e-mail Marko had written in a scornful way: “Ach, we play scumbag rock n roll black metal doom filth”.

Yeah, surely this is how these guys feel and what they like to do. But if Funeral Crawl seemed a great album made by experienced metallers for fun, Order of Snakes is an utterly solid, fierce and elegant album made by a “granitic” and definitely smart band. These metallers are still having good time, and I guess this is what make this album so fresh and somehow smooth and enjoyable in spite of the complex songs.

The new album had been announced some time ago and recently it has been streamed in full on myspace. Eventually it will be out as solid, vinyl-only edition in a few months. In the meantime the band has decided to share it for free download via the boundless blogosphere.

I don’t know if this is the album of “maturity” of the band, and maybe the band will change again in the future, to have fun and to experiment.

In the meantime we can enjoy this unholy, dark, and gloomy masterpiece of “ hell-worshipping black doom rock filth”,

seven heavy tracks full of surprises …                 9/10
Review by Marilena Moroni           

Creeping @ Myspace

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Posted May 1, 2011 by doommantia in Creeping

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