MCR

Eternity In Your Arms – Creeper

Release Year: 2017

Rating: 8.5/10

Rock music has gone through numerous changes since its inception, but somewhere along the way, it lost its theatrics. Rockstars no longer seem larger than life, mysterious, or alien. Creeper is here to change that. These theatrical punks from Southhampton, UK are taking you back to the days when rock music was a spectacle. Not only is their music over the top and filled with Gothic drama, they’re creating a mythos and extend an offer to join their Creeper Cult. With dark imagery, a healthy dose of punk rock, and a dash of theater, these punks are making rock music fun again.

Creeper is all about theatrics. You can hear every ounce of drama, camp, fear, and desire in their songs whether it’s from the music or frontman Will Gould’s vocals. Their songs are like mini-macabre plays circling around themes of love, death, loss, loneliness, and frustration. The album itself is a loose concept record based on the characters Madeline, The Stranger, and James Scythe, which were first mentioned on their second EP, The Callous Heart. While the story is easy enough to pick up after a few listens, it doesn’t make or break the record. You could easily listen to it without realizing the songs are connected. In the end, the story doesn’t really matter because everything else about the album is so damn good.

The opening track “Black Rain” perfectly captures what Creeper is about. It has a gloomy, Gothic intro featuring a brief mysterious monologue before exploding in a mass of shredding guitars and crashing keys. The best part is the big chorus which sounds like a choir from the depths of darkness singing “And in the rain/I screamed your name.” It has an awesome anthemic quality; you can easily picture a stadium singing this song. Though it’s one of the album’s highlights, there are moments where it reminds you of My Chemical Romance’s “Helena.” It’s forgivable, though.

Poison Pens” doesn’t let you relax for a second with its pummeling drums, doom-laden bass, and rapid guitars. It’s a hyper punk track that’ll get you moshing as soon you hear “Our love is dead!” screaming in your ears. The bridge gives you a chance to catch your breath when things slow down and Gould sings “I fell like an angel for you/now I do the deeds that devils do” sounding sinister and ready to strike. The off the rails pace and AFI-inspired gang vocals make it one of the most thrilling tracks on the album. “Suzanne” is another high energy track with a similar punk edge full of morbid imagery. The song instantly hooks you with its rallying cry of “now now now now!” along with the Meatloaf-esque hooks. These over the top vocals are part of their campy appeal and helps them stand out in the deluge of forgettable punk rock bands.

Hiding With Boys” is another insanely fun song that shows off a bit of the band’s glam-rock influences. This one is more upbeat and doesn’t have as much of an edge as the other tracks. The hook of “hiding with the boys in your bedroom” has an infectious melody and is just fun to sing at the top of your lungs. The music is kind of playful and the extensive keys give the song more of a classic feel, as if you heard it before, which isn’t necessarily bad.

But just when you have the band figured out, they switch gears showing another side to themselves. “Misery” keeps its gloomy nature with the subdued acoustic guitar accompanying Gould’s fragile vocals slowing things down considerably. With just Gould and a guitar, for the most part, it’s the most honest track on the album. The Gothic nature of the band shows up in coy lines like “I wrote down a list of coroners/their names, their office phone numbers/to pronounce dead the thing we had” and the hook “misery never goes out of style.”  Near the end, the music intensifies and Gould’s vocals are more pronounced and powerful as if he’s found the will to go on despite all the bad things happening. This shift nicely changes things, keeping the song from getting dull.

Creeper gives us another intimate moment with “Crickets,” sung by keyboardist Hannah Greenwood. Unlike most of the record, this song has a hint of a country vibe, especially with the accompanying violin in the background. Greenwood absolutely kills the song with her pretty, yet gritty vocals. You can feel her ache as she sings about the end of a relationship. The song is an unexpected treat from the band. Not only do these songs give us a break from the onslaught of raging guitars and dark matter, they show how the band can go beyond their comfort zone. They’re not just another band keen on loud guitars and screaming vocals.

While most of the songs are fun, catchy, and stand out, the two low points of the album are “Down Below” and “Winona Forever.” These songs aren’t bad; they’re both upbeat and fun like the other tracks with their sing-a-long hooks and bouncy rhythms. They’re just not that memorable compared to the rest of the album. The band quickly gets back on track with “Darling” and “Room 309,” which continue the trend of raging guitars, big hooks, and lots of drama. Here, it’s hard not hear their musical influences. You can easily pick up traces of AFI, MCR, Misfits, and Alkaline Trio. Is this bad? Not really. It’s clear they’re inspired by these bands, but at least they avoid sounding like cheap knockoffs.

Creeper excels at bringing camp and theatrics to their music, which is part of the reason it’s so much fun. Everything feels over the top from the music to the lyrics, which would sound cheesy anywhere else. The huge dramatics come out the most during closing track “I Choose to Live.” Here, they rip out a page from Queen’s book and feature larger than life music with a booming chorus. One of the most personal songs on the record, it deals with overcoming life’s struggles. Gould starts out singing softly as if defeated. But as we crescendo, his voice gains strength until he’s shouting “I choose to live” at the top of his lungs. It ends the album on an oddly positive note, letting you know no matter what you’re going through, you’re strong enough to survive.

Eternity in Your Arms is a hodgepodge of all the bands Creeper loves and has been influenced by. While they are mostly inspired by punk rock, you can hear traces of emo, glam, pop, and, dare I say, country. This is what helps them stand out. These elements are found all over their songs, keeping the album fresh and exciting. Featuring big hooks, lots of gang vocals, and a touch of Gothic and emo tendencies, their songs are grandiose, a spectacle even. It brings you back to the days when rockstars were meant to be bigger than life or aliens from another planet altogether. Sure, what they’re doing isn’t necessarily breaking genres, but man is it fun.

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Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge- My Chemical Romance

Release Year: 2004

Rating: 7/5/10

With their blend of punk and Gothic rock, My Chemical Romance hit the music scene in the mid-2000’s and made heads roll. Though this isn’t their first album, it is the one that made the band a mainstream success. Their intense, aggressive music backed by melodic vocals makes it easy to see why so many people flocked to the band. This may not be the best album I’ve ever heard, but it’s a pretty solid effort.

The album opens with the punk infused “Helena.” It’s a very energetic, cryptic song that’s easy to get behind due to the catchy chorus and Gerard Way’s crazy vocals. The band lets their punk rock influence shine here with speeding guitars and an intense vibe that makes you go crazy. Due to all the chaotic screaming going on one may not realize the song is actually about Way’s grandmother, which adds a bleak sentimental value to the song. The next track “Give ‘Em Hell Kid” starts out with a speedy, bouncing riff that rings throughout the song. It’s another crazy energetic track that’ll have you going wild. There’s also some melody found here, which makes certain parts of the song easy to sing along to.

Probably the best song on the album is “The Ghost of You.” It’s the slowest track on the record and probably the heaviest in both music and lyrics. The intro riff is really somber and haunting, especially since it sounds hollow like it’s ringing out through an abandoned house. The song itself deals with the fear of loss and death. The music here is really great because it switches between moods of the song. The somber, slow music during the verse represents the sadness of loss, while the distorted intense guitars during the chorus represent the anger felt from said loss. It’s a really heavy song, especially when you picture the war themed video released for the single.

Though the sound for most of the album follows the band’s punk rock influence, there are a couple of songs where they get experimental. “Hang ‘Em High” has weird, Western influenced music at the beginning, which really takes you back and go what the fuck is going on. But then the music goes back to their punk chaos. The song is pretty weird, but it’s kind of cool how they stick with this Western motif, with mention of guns, riding into the sunset, and six shooters. It’s weird, but at least it’s interesting.

They also play around with different sounds on the track “You Know What They Do…” The vibe is kind of vintage Jazz club/ ragtime, which really reminds me of a Panic! at the Disco song although much heavier. Of course not wanting to stray too far from their established sound, they return to their punk distortion. The song itself is all over the place with lots of screaming and noise playing even during the singing, but it’s pretty good nonetheless.

My Chemical Romance’s music is an interesting mix of punk and conventional rock, with some metal thrown in every now and again. This means the music is usually intense and heavy as hell. But it manages to be super fast when it wants to be. The perfect example of this is found on “I’m Not Okay.” It has a really fast riff that features a lot of distortion, but it has a more conventional rock n roll feel when it comes to the guitar solo. It’s an interesting mix that gives the band it’s own chaotic, unique sound. They also manage to blend in Gothic elements in regard to their lyrics. The imagery in their songs is dark with references to blood, death, cemeteries, and violence. This cryptic imagery also influenced the band’s look at least for this release.

The vocals are also pretty cool on the album. A lot of times Way sounds unstable and on the edge, like he’s going to lose it at any moment. I particularly like his singing on the closing track “I Never Told You What I Do for a Living.” It’s unchained and playful at times. Maybe they’re so attractive because he doesn’t scream all the time. Granted, he does do it a lot, but it doesn’t take over the entire song to make it aggravating. I also feel that his vocals are not threatening. Yeah, they can be intense, but they’re also melodic enough where you can sing along with him. This mixture of heavy music and catchy vocals makes the band attractive to anyone who doesn’t want to get into super hardcore music.

Overall, the album gets 7.5/10. The songs are pretty good, with some fading into the background while others grab all the attention. Thanks to the band’s unique blend of punk and conventional rock, the music is heavy and intense. Anyone who wants lots of distortion to mosh to will love this album. It’s energetic, guaranteed to get you pumped for the day. It’s the type of album that makes you feel like you’re ready to conquer the world. Though My Chemical Romance is not a band I listen to anymore, I can at least that this album is solid and shows that they at least have their own sound.