Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Album Review: Creeper - Eternity, In Your Arms

It's exciting to get in on the ground floor of something. In business, it means that you have the most opportunity to maximize the profits from an investment. In music, it means that you get to say you were there at the start of something great, and you can lord your superiority over everyone who arrives late to the party for the rest of time. With the amount of attention Creeper has been generating leading to the release of this, their debut album, being on board here and now could be one of those times people are going to regret missing out on in the future.

Creeper has been taking the alternative/punk/emo and various other scenes by storm, with a series of EPs that have been raising their profile. And with the string of singles from this album, they've created one of the most anticipated albums of the year. For a band with no previous albums to their credit, who have made a conceptual piece based on Peter Pan and the Lost Boys, that's already a heck of an achievement.

The album kicks off with the explosive single, "Black Rain", which has already taken the world by storm, and is undoubtedly one of the best songs so far this year. It's a gloriously epic song that over-stuffs its three-plus minutes with enough drama to fill a song twice its length. You get hints of the band's AFI styled punk roots through the verses, and then the chorus is a huge hymn that rises towards the heavens. It's a remarkable song, and sold me on Creeper's growth as a band from their last EP.

If you're old enough to have been aware of the punk and pop-punk scenes of the mid and late 90s, there are hints of influences that pop up throughout the album that are nice nuggets of nostalgia, but work in the context of the album. Since the subject matter deals with a figure who never grew up, who lived in what was essentially frozen time, hearing fragments of the past pop up here and there is a smart way of selling the motif.

Creeper has made smart decisions about how they've approached this material, but what about the songs themselves? If you've heard any of the singles, you already know Creeper is capable of writing potent punk with a theatrical flair. The combination of "Black Rain", "Suzanne", and "Hiding With Boys" are brilliant singles, songs that don't spend a second longer than they need to in establishing the idea, then hitting you over the head with a cast-iron hook. If you remember Daffy Duck seeing start spinning around his head in an old Looney Tunes adventure, that's not that far off from what Creeper's best songs can do to you.

The band uses the theatrical nature of their music to great effect. From track to track, everything about the band's sound, including the vocal timbres, changes to fit the song's needs. They are essentially characters playing out the story, which is the sort of approach that usually is beyond the grasp of bands. It's impressive that Creeper has such a hold on their dynamics at this stage of their career. It not only shows their talent, but it takes what was already a good album and makes it special.

One of the little things I appreciate is the feeling in the verses of "Down Below", which is a very close copy of a song off Michael Monroe's fantastic album "Blackout States". I'm sure no one in Creeper heard that album, as most people didn't, but the familiarity brought a smile to my face.

I'll sum it up by drawing a comparison. A decade ago, Green Day took punk to a new place by making a concept record that drew heavily from the influence of bands like The Who. Creeper is building upon that legacy by choosing instead to take in influences from Meat Loaf and Broadway. The embrace the pomposity of their music, and aren't afraid of being a bit over the top. That's the right attitude to have. People are willing to take the journey with you, if you believe enough in yourself. Creeper does, and it comes through in the music.

"Eternity, In Your Arms" is the kind of album bands are afraid to make; diverse, creative, artistic, and a challenge for narrow-minded fans. Creeper has massive ambition waiting to be unleashed, and "Eternity, In Your Arms" is a stunning first statement. This is the sort of album you have to hear, because there isn't really anything else like it.

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