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Daemon Worship / Iron Bonehead Productions (2015)
Rating: 8/10

Described as one of the “metal underground’s best-kept secrets”, New Zealand’s Creeping come oozing from under their rock for their third full-length instalment of doom metal.

This is not just another occult-obsessed bunch of fancy Dans looking to bewitch you with a vintage vibe, however; instead, Creeping lace their cosmic melodies with a gloomy, black metal iciness – the overall result being a five-track expression built upon grizzly vocal chords; menacing, but not too drawn out exercises and glacial passages of aching melancholy.

First and foremost, it’s worth noting the vocals of bassist M. Pavlovic who leads this trio. His style is more of a distant, watery gurgle which works in tandem with the cold rushes of stark air shoved in your face by drummer J. Wallace and guitarist S. Blomfield.

And so with opener ‘Death Knell Offering’, we find ourselves initially suffocated by a… well, creeping sense of foreboding where the riffs tend to leak with gradually, corrosive effects and the drums roll in ominous fashion. The black metal nuances take hold as the combo eventually picks up the pace, although on the opener it’s never pacey; instead, we get an oaken sort of blast of dry air – a black metal dusting, if you will – and again this is apparent but more so on the horrible epic that is ‘Scythes Over My Grave’. For Creeping, this is about as black metal as it gets; those snarling remote vocals and that scathing rhythm section are pure arctic majesty as they provide a black wall of frostiness to supply the vocal growls with even more ammunition.

Pavlovic is quite a monster; his gruff tones and bass rattles always remaining dissonant in their quest as the drums hiss. Creeping always provide weight too as well as flecks of variety, with the final quarter of the track being an abrasive yet slow scraping on the ears before the outfit makes its way into the stark ruminations of ‘Cold Soil’. This track just begins as an icy clamour injected with eerie whispers, and it’s nothing more until the two-minute mark when a thudding drum nods its way down the dark path and the barbed chords settle in to construct another chilly landscape.

I’m sure there may be some of you eager to categorise this, but at times there is a fine line between doom and black metal here and yet the merging is a successful one. In whatever cold tone Creeping offers, there is always that stark nature; the best of these oozing blasphemies comes via the squelching ache of ‘Drear’ – a truly frightful and mournful doom metal clank that never forces itself beyond that despondent guitar traipse. And with the closing title track, there’s more thudding horror; the track secreted like some half-hinted Lovecraftian manifestation. The drum, bass and guitar are just one sorry mulchy mess of slow-motion derision fronted all the while by those grey, miserable tones.

And there you have it; Creeping’s best work by far and their first episode for four years. The wait has certainly been worth it, although it may take a while to de-ice the eyelids.

Neil Arnold

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