Creeper - Cry To Heaven. A vintage looking painting featuring an angelic beauty wearing a white gown, she has dark bony wings. She is sat on a pile of skulls and surrounded by classical looking dancing girls. A foreboding castle partly hides the moon.

Sanguivore LP

Creeper have been building up to this long player with a series of stunning singles. Could the rest of the songs on the album live up to their promise?

The album opens with the nine-minute rock opera, ‘Further Than Forever’, soon followed by the excellent single ‘Cry To Heaven’. That means ‘Sacred Blasphemy’ is our first surprise, a Goth punk track with a great chorus.

The thoroughly excellent ‘The Ballad of Spook and Mercy’ is faithful to its self-ascribed balladry. The acoustic introduction and haunting backing vocals set the scene for the tenebrous lyrics. The song starts to build, with ringing church bells and a chorus of singers. This rise and fall amplifies each time around until it’s a dark cathedral of praise.

From the shadows, she saw her first victim
A newlywed in a Corvette
Mercy slaughtered the bride
And put a knife in her side
And sucked all the life from her neck

The groom came back from the truck stop
And saw his wife’s blood on the seats
Like an envelope
She tore open his throat
And feated on every heartbeat

‘Lovers Led Astray’ has elements of The Animals and Thin Lizzy in the guitars, but remains an electrified broadside ballad with a great hook in the ‘submission’ line that rounds up the song. After the fantastically dramatic ‘Teenage Sacrifice’, the punky ‘Chapel Gates’ reminds me of Adam and the Ants – chaotic, theatrical, and memorable.

‘The Abyss’ provides an ambient metal interlude – just the keys that would be the prelude to a blasting metal track. What actually comes next, though, is the amazing single, ‘Black Heaven’.

The album ends with the stripped-down piano and vocal song, ‘More Than Death’. But of course, it isn’t over. It simply retreats beneath the ground to await the darkness that will bring it once more from its lair. Yes, this album isn’t going to die – it will return once more when, with a glazed stare, you faithfully return the needle to the first song. I am here to do your bidding, Master. I am your slave, and you will reward me, for I shall be faithful*.

Most of the songs on this record inspired me to write: ‘This is my favourite song on the album’. When I realised how ridiculous it was to say that after more than half the songs, I had to go back and delete them all. I’m not going to choose one song.

One of the signature elements of this record (and also of side-project Salem) is Gould’s ability to deliver characterful vocals for the songs. Whether it’s the pastoral Americana or the rebirth of Sisters of Mercy and The Mission. Think, if you will, of the melodramatic sophisti-pop of The Blow Monkeys combined with the playlists of the Goth scene’s attics and dungeons, with a slice of eighties rock revival. That’s what Sanguivore brings – and it’s a dark delight.

Though I fear Creeper’s fans will rail against me, I’m comfortable calling this their best album to date. It’s such a solid and well-rendered thematic delight. Oh yes, it’s ambitious, even pretentious – but it also hits the high bar it sets. That epic opening song says the album is going to be a masterpiece… and it is.

* Dracula (Ch. 8)

Written by Fenton on

Steve Fenton writes in our music, words, and culture categories. He was Editor in Chief for The Mag and covered live music for DV8 Magazine and Spill Magazine. He was often found in venues throughout the UK alongside ace-photographer, Mark Holloway. Steve is also a technical writer and programmer and writes gothic fiction. Steve studied Psychology at OSC, and Anarchy in the UK: A History of Punk from 1976-1978 at the University of Reading.

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