CreepingPurveyors of blackened doom since 2004, New Zealand’s Creeping come in to ‘Revenant’ with two well reviewed albums already under their collective belt. Now signed to Iron Bonehead for the vinyl release (Daemon Worship for the CD) of their latest album, they seem all set to infect the world with their dismal orations. Priding themselves on straddling genres and defying simple classification, the band also strives to capture a sense of the beyond via its music. Or, more precisely, to transport the listener beyond the realms of death by whatever means necessary (with the caveat that return is by no means guaranteed…). Having listened to ‘Revenant’ a number of times now, I’d say all these ambitions have been fulfilled by it.

Beyond the eerie notes and chiming bell which usher in ‘Death Knell Offering’, there’s far more of a considered and perhaps melancholic vibe than expected from the cover art and band photos. Although the vocals are of a rancid black/death variety, warm bass tones and a rich guitar tone embody the opener. In addition to which, glimmers of beauty – mainly in the form of emergent melody – do a fair bit to contrast against the funereal paced music and rhythmic mass of resignation. So from first impressions, Creeping is indeed a death ridden entity which approaches the subject with an alternative view compared to a lot of bands out there. With ‘Scythes Over My Grave’ more clear black metal influences abruptly enter the equation via scything riffs, blasts, and a more gnarly bass tone. A punk feel rules one moment; darker atmospherics along the lines of latter Nachtmystium, the next. As the track transpires however, it does correspond more to the opener.

The band certainly makes good on their promise of not fitting conveniently into one category, and the midpoint of the album is no exception. Opposed to the lengthy tracks preceding it, ‘Cold Soil’ proves to be a fairly minimalist and brief instrumental at four minutes. Guitar notes ascend from the chasmic depths before thudding drums and moribund riffs bluster for the duration. But it’s back to business with ‘Drear’ as a miserable scream and doom vibe set the tone. When they appear, M. Pavlovic’s vocals retch away, making it quite the ordeal, but again, this aspect is offset by morose riffs and accompanying hints of melody which provide an inherent sense of redemption. The last minute, which bleeds sheer misery, is an exception however. Come the final track ‘Revenant’ (yes, there are just five), and the instruments operate in rich tandem once again: slow riffs and haunting guitar lines entwining with heavy bass notes and understated yet powerful drum patterns.

‘Intoxicating’ is probably the word I’d use to describe the closing couple of minutes – not to mention a large amount of the album’s material. Despite the fundamentally oppressive nature of Creeping’s music, it does manage to entrance and pull the listener along with it. On the downside, the richness of the tones (certainly through good headphones) renders the music a bit too palatable to crush the listener as I suspect the band intended it to. And at thirty-two minutes long, there definitely would have been room for a bit more material to fill out the album – especially as the experience seems to be over before you know it. That said, there’s very little not to like about ‘Revenant’. It’s a fine slab of metal which conveys doom and black metal philosophy to great effect.

(8/10 Jamie)