From the moment they burst onto the UK scene as a gaggle of spunky, histrionic goth-punks in 2014, it was clear Creeper had the potential for greatness. Almost a decade in, that greatness has been realised with Sanguivore: not just the most spectacular work of their career, but the most irresistibly anthemic, fabulously flamboyant dark rock opera you’re likely to hear this year.
Opening with a bombastic, nine-minute epic in Further Than Forever that Jim Steinman would be proud of, Southampton’s finest proceed to rail through their myriad influences in style, packing in everything from brooding, Danzig-esque punk (Cry To Heaven), to flashy, 80s-powered heavy metal (Teenage Sacrifice), to pulsating goth rock (Black Heaven), to searing, piano-driven power balladry (More Than Death), splattering it all in their own, unique shades of black. Producer Tom Dalgety has done a magnificent job behind the desk, giving the album a stadium-sized sound without sacrificing the subtler, eerily atmospheric undertones that keep every song, no matter how gloriously overblown, firmly grounded in Creeper's spooktacular (under)world.
As much as the band have clearly honed their songwriting skills as a collective, truly it's frontman Will Ghould who is the star of the show here. Flitting from mournful croons to melodramatic wails to bassy, Peter Steele-styled baritones, the man is clearly having the time of his life, paying homage to the eyeliner-clad anti-heroes that have inspired him while consolidating his own place in the tapestry of great rock frontmen before our very eyes (and ears). With any justice, this is the album that will see he and his bandmates graduate into alternative music's big leagues; songs like the thumping, throbbing synth rock banger Lovers Led Astray deserve an airing in major venues, with the production to match.
Crucially, it's all just so much fun. Make no mistake about it, Creeper take their art very seriously, but like Alice Cooper, Rob Zombie and Ghost before them, they've learned to fully lean into the camp and fantastical nature of what they do without compromising the raw power of the music itself. It's everything all great, showy rock 'n' roll should be. They may have arrived nine years ago, but with Sanguivore, Creeper have officially reached peak form.
Sanguivore is released this Friday, October 13 via Spinefarm Records.