Creeper – ‘Sanguivore’

By Tom Walsh

If you arrive at a new Creeper record to be met with a 9-minute opener complete with a ‘Tubular Bells’ intro driving straight into a modern day ‘Bat Out of Hell’ and are taken by surprise, you must be new here. For those that have been following the band’s career a little closer in the past few years, it’s a simple “well, what did you expect?”.

The Southampton horror rockers’ trajectory from shy but innovative punks to the My Chemical Romance for the Snapchat generation, makes their pivot to glam rock superstars seem like complete sense. Their third full-length album, ‘Sanguivore’, is their latest incarnation and brings with it the theatrics, hair metal and über spook that wouldn’t look out of place on an Alice Cooper or Meatloaf record.

Creeper have been emo darlings with their “callous hearts” on 2017’s ‘Eternity, in Your Arms’; they’ve had their ‘Melon Collie and the Infinite Sadness’ moment with 2020’s concept album ‘Sex, Death and the Infinite Void’, and now they’ve arrived at the over-the-top gothic anthemic record of ‘Sanguivore’.

Its name alone, referring  to an animal that nourishes itself on the blood of others, gives an indication in which direction it’s about to take you. We are introduced to ‘Spook’ and ‘Mercy’, the main protagonists of this concept record, and you can tell the way this will go – it’s a pick your poison record which takes elements from kings of the “vampire rock” genre like the Misfits, the Damned, Danzig and Gary Numan. Amidst the darkness, however, this is just a hell of a fun album.

Brace yourself for the rock and roll Nightmare Before Christmas-esque opener, ‘Further Than Forever’, an extended epic which welcomes you into the show. Vocalist Will Gould, now going by the apt title of ‘William von Ghould’ is in his element with his booming signature crooner/Broadway stalwart pipes fitting so perfectly to this cavalcade of camp horror.

If ‘Further Than Forever’ was Creeper’s answer to ‘Bat Out of Hell’, then lead single ‘Cry To Heaven’ will blow every hair metal song out of the water. It’s a rampaging track with the kind of meaty guitar riffs that Mötley Crüe could only dream of, while keyboardist Hannah Greenwood’s vocal performance in the chorus is truly soaring.

Throughout ‘Sanguivore’, Creeper borrow heavily from the goth rock peers such as Misfits, in the thrashing ‘Sacred Blasphemy’ and ‘Chapel Gates’, and Depeche Mode on the synth-heavy ‘Black Heaven’, while you can’t help being transported to the chaos and ridiculousness of an Alice Cooper show on ‘Teenage Sacrifice’. One of the instant earworms of the record, it has everything from the classic horror organs staccatos, the church choir backing vocals and devastatingly ‘80s guitar riffs.

It wouldn’t be a Creeper record if we weren’t treated to a couple crooning classics from Von Ghould. We get to know our main protagonists a little more on ‘The Ballad of Spook & Mercy’, a devious tale of two supernatural killers on the run and, in classic Creeper fashion, it ends on a piano ballad with screamed words “I will love you more than death” (on closer ‘More Than Death’).

Creeper’s ability and ingenuity to constantly reinvent themselves with each album cycle is one of their amazing qualities. ‘Sanguivore’, like what has gone before it, is a huge, ambitious departure yet still retaining the very aspects that make this band so good.

‘Sanguivore’ is at times hilarious, at times heartbreaking, at times quite weird but it’s a work of art and highlights how Creeper continue to surprise even their most loyal fans.

TOM WALSH

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