Wednesday, July 10, 2024

Creeping Death - Specter of War EP (2018)

Specter of War, the sophomore EP from Texans Creeping Death, has another of those cover images that doesn't necessarily match up to its musical content, but looks pretty badass nonetheless. The reaper riding, the hounds, the evil castle and bridge, the sunlight filtering through the ominous, evil clouds...all adds up to what might be a very sinister thrash, black or death metal effort. I won't say that the music itself avoids all such classifications, but here I felt like the alleged hardcore side of the band manifest itself a little more clearly than on the prior release. You could easily listen through some of the breakdowns on this and imagine Madball or Biohazard having a particularly dark day and dipping into their own crossover death metal influences for some similar inspiration.

Still, this stuff reeks of old Pestilence, Asphyx, and even some Bolt Thrower with the more tank-rolling sorts of rhythms that develop. Chugging intensity balanced off against the tremolo riffs you'd more equate with the classic DM sounds, and frankly these guys were one of the most seamless to blend together the styles into something that feels like a coherent entity and not just bouncing back and forth between the extremes. The bass tone on Specter of War is more prominent, like its bouncing around the cargo hold of some oil tanker, and the vocals, still in that Schuldiner/Grewe/van Drunen style, are a bit less pronounced, but also more ghastly sounding than the last time. Rhythm guitar riff quality is around the same, they try a few different techniques, and still offer the scarce lead or two, but what I can't deny is just how effective the tone is, it simply carves out the listener's flesh in huge chunks, with big, deep chords and caustic chugging that will entertain you even if it's not exactly unique or nuanced.

If you could combine these two short-players, you'd probably have my favorite Creeping Death record, it was just so fun and sincere and set in a style I'm not capable of getting bored with. There is nothing genius about any of this, it's just a band wearing its influences well, playing within its own parameters and evoking just the right amount of nostalgia and atmosphere while keeping it all real for the mosh pit crowds that will likely appreciate it the most. Angry, hungry, and worth hearing, especially those awesome bridge/breakdowns in "Salvation" and "New Agony", or the great opener "Revenge".

Verdict: Win [8/10]

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