Creeper – ‘Sex, Death & The Infinite Void’

By Renette van der Merwe

Creeper have never been in short supply of theatrics. Their origin is rooted in the mysticism of Room 309 and the concept of The Callous Heart and The Stranger, a concept that was woven into the fabric of debut album ‘Eternity, In Your Arms’. An album that took an entire subculture of lost souls by the shoulders and shook until it created somewhat of a cult following. An album filled to the brim with goth punk punch that delivered thundering live shows with all the pomp you’d come to expect from a band so creatively mature it hurt. 

Their second album, ‘Sex, Death & The Infinite Void’, once again flexes those creative and theatrical muscles as it brings in a new era of Creeper. After laying down their leather jackets in 2018 and seemingly calling it a day, the band returned under a moniker a year later before changing their aesthetic completely. This signalled a change in direction, but from ‘Born Cold’ alone, it wasn’t yet evident just how big that shift would be. 

The first single and moments in later track ‘Napalm Girls’ are still reminiscent of ‘Eternity’. Those big – almost frighteningly so – choruses, sewn together with intimidating guitar riffs and moving piano melodies that combine everything from My Chemical Romance to AFI and Bowie in an explosive package of volatile emotion, intense storytelling, and all consuming instrumentals. 

For the most part, however, ‘Sex, Death & The Infinite Void’ showcases a very different side of Creeper. Songs like ‘Cyanide’, ‘Paradise’, and ‘Four Years Ago’ serve up spaghetti western flourishes with jangly guitars and saloon piano tunes. Singer Will Gould spoke about how he wanted this record to transport you to another time – which it certainly does, by feeling somewhat like The Smiths met ‘Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino’-era Arctic Monkeys in the wild west. 

Creeper’s second album has very little in common with their first, except for Gould’s beautiful vocal range and poetic lyricism, and a shared dramatic edge. Their knack for songwriting is undeniable, as is their ability to create music that grabs you by the collar; the only worry is that ‘Sex, Death & The Infinite Void’ sometimes borders on feeling like a musical, especially on songs like ‘Thorns of Love’ and ‘Four Years Ago’. 

The album closes with the heartbreakingly honest ballad ‘All My Friends’, displaying that vulnerability Creeper wear so well. It will undoubtedly become the anthem for a generation who are struggling, and who see their friends struggling.

Whether or not this reincarnation of Creeper will alienate old fans, only time will tell – but what has become abundantly clear with ‘Sex, Death & The Infinite Void’ is this band’s ferocious hunger to evolve, to create, to dream, and build worlds beyond this one for listeners to escape to.  

RENETTE VAN DER MERWE

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