Uncle Acid And The Deadbeats – The Night Creeper
Retro, eh? You can’t move for it at the moment. Festivals dedicated to bands playing music from 50 years ago. Beards well and truly in fashion. Babycham back in pubs throughout the land. Okay, maybe not the latter, but everything else seems to be in keeping with the nostalgia-filled output of Cambridge dirge-mongers Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats on their fourth record The Night Creeper.
In recent years, Uncle Acid and the gang have been garnering more and more praise for their vintage brand of doom and from opener ‘Waiting For Blood’ it’s obvious they’re keen to carry on down that path. A hypnotic Sabbath-y riff is overlaid by Kevin Starrs’ wizened whine and straight away the music builds evocations of London’s smoggy backstreets as the story begins to unfold.
Yes, as is generally the case with Uncle Acid records this is another conceptual outing; The Night Creeper is essentially the score to an as-yet unmade Jack The Ripper tale, with ‘Murder Nights’ in particular a creeping, vengeful number, setting the scene for the violence still to ensue.
‘Downtown’ is more upbeat but no less sinister and although Uncle Acid are keen for us to do the detective work ourselves as the story develops, one thing we’re sure of is there’s no other band out there right now who can produce such terrifyingly atmospheric, sludgy riffs so effortlessly. The issue is that ‘effortless’ can sometimes translate as ‘lazy’ on this record. Take the instrumental ‘Yellow Moon’, for example, which has all the promise in the world before going absolutely nowhere and killing much of the previous occult vibe in the process.
It’s especially frustrating when miscues like this are followed up by the Beatles-at-their-most-insane catchiness of ‘Melody Lane’ which highlights all that makes Uncle Acid great before the band revert to a successful yet slower groove for the six minute bleakness of the album’s title track.
‘Inside’ is ELO shoved through a meat grinder of fuzz, a few tonnes of glorious stomp and black urgency sneaking into your soul, but then ‘Slow Death’ again kills the buzz. Although full of atmosphere with its needle-on-vinyl hiss, it just doesn’t quite hit the mark of the ‘Planet Caravan’-esque chill-out that it’s trying to be.
After that false finish, ‘hidden’ track ‘Black Motorcade’ repeats the mistake. Tempting us in with a lilting melody chock full of grief and backed by the pitter-patter of rain, the funereal scene is set…but then nothing, just a not entirely unpleasant five minutes of meandering acoustic mournfulness.
Definitely an album full of fits and starts, there is enough on The Night Creeper to warrant an inquisitive purchase although the record certainly isn’t a great leap on from Mind Control, and the production isn’t as fantastically dense as Blood Lust. Instead, what you’ve got here is a classic case of a band sticking to a largely successful formula; a continuation rather than a revelation. With bands like Lucifer and Black Moth hot on their heels though, Uncle Acid may need to up their consistency a little to stay on top of the doom pile.