I can’t say this was long awaited, as Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats have released four albums in six years, but The Night Creeper is certainly highly anticipated. After touring with Black Sabbath in 2013 only in Europe, they finally had mercy on their deprived North American fans and embarked on a successful tour in 2014. An enticing single, “Runaway Girls” was released, which didn’t even end up on the album. The cover strips away “the Deadbeats” from the name, I guess for simplicity’s sake and marketing. As far as I know, there was no official announcement of a change in band name. The improved production on their third album, Mind Control (2013) has also been abandoned, back to the bassless low-fi sound of their first demo tape Vol I (2010). My disappointment in this obviously intentional choice is balanced out by the fact that the songs are better than Mind Control‘s, matching the crawling pace of Vol I, while intensifying the creepy horror vibe tenfold.
It was really remarkable to witness Uncle Acid’s ascension from the underground in 2011. Word of mouth of their self-released Blood Lust (2011) spread like wildfire, a murky but potent mix of Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper, The Beatles and Hammer Horror. Vol I probably would have done the same had they properly released it beyond the 20 cassette copies. Thanks to their boldly consistent psych noir aesthetic (read more about that in Kaleidoscopes & Grimoires: Psych Noir), and probably even more so to their catchy riffs and haunting harmonies, they were a runaway crossover success, with Rise Above reissuing the album and helping bridge them from their dark underworld to more widespread audiences. By 2013, we were already hearing their influence in other bands, with several direct tributes to them on many recent albums. That’s a pretty rare achievement these days, something accomplished by just a small handful of bands the past 20 years.
While the band members were nearly anonymous as the members of Swedish psych rockers Ghost and Goat, they have somewhat stepped out of the shadows in the past year to the point where we know their names and can possibly even pick them out from pictures. But in keeping with their original intent, I don’t really care beyond the extent that the band are sufficiently talented and hairy, ’nuff said. The album kicks off with “Waiting For Blood,” a guitar sounding like a muscle car barreling down the highway, probably with a corpse in the trunk. It settles into a sinister groove with a touch of Hammond organ referencing early prog days, and a nimble guitar solo near the end inspired by more early 80s New Wave of British Heavy Metal shredders. “Murder Nights” continues the blood-splattered themes inspired by film noir and Italian Giallo crime thrillers. Have tunes about stabbing ever been so hummable? “Downtown” is highlighted by both a catchy, circular riff, and a minor key melody on top and female “oooh aaah” chorus that has such a cheesy haunted house vibe, you can tell the band have loosened up perhaps after the initial pressure of their early success, and are having a lot more fun than on their previous album.
“Yellow Moon” has the band experimenting a bit with a psych-prog instrumental featuring the venerable mellotron, and is a nice mood-enhancer at the center of the album. It’s sandwiched by two of their hookiest tunes, “Pusher Man” and “Melody Lane.” The title track perfectly embodies the album’s theme by using it’s crawling pace to invoke the slow but steady progress a killer makes in stalking his victim. “Inside” is driven by a clomping, rhythmic riff that references glam rockers Slade, a bit of a departure for the band. Then there’s the penultimate track, the 9:19 “Slow Death,” which is all rainy ambiance and dirge, with vocals low in the mix, sounding distant and defeated. It’s saved by nice extended guitar solo that leads to a mostly satisfying crescendo. I can understand the effect they’re going for, but I just don’t appreciate it as much as the rest of the album, nor the “bonus” acoustic throwaway “Black Motorcade.” However, I know many others will consider “Slow Death” a highlight as they are branching out a bit. It’s a slight letdown at the end to what remains a great album.
While Blood Lust (2011) will remain a fan favorite with their most rocking, catchy tunes, The Night Creeper is without a doubt their psych noir masterpiece.
Their brilliantly creepy and bawdy “Melody Lane” video has been blocked by IODA due to some copyrighted content. Hope you got to see it before.