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Creepmime > Shadows > Reviews
Creepmime - Shadows

A Dutch of evil - 89%

we hope you die, June 4th, 2021

A Dutch of evil….because touch, sounds like…Everyone seems to agree that the Netherlands often gets overlooked as a death metal hotspot, usually in favour of Sweden or UK grindcore. But when we look to the likes of Pestilence, Asphyx, Sinister, Thanatos, and Gorefest, the output of our friends across the open sea made a significant impression on the shape death metal to come. Maybe we only think the Netherlands gets overlooked because these bands never formed a uniquely reginal sound that could be neatly packaged for marketing material. They all boast (or at least boasted) a pronounced identity of their own, immediately recognizable as “them”, and not just a generic iteration of a particular region; see Sweden’s Grave as an example of what I’m getting at in terms of a very generic regional sound. And this point applies just as much to Creepmime, who were perhaps passed over owing to their scant output when compared to the household names of Holland.

Creepmime offer an interesting demonstration of what progressive doom metal sounds like when played by a death metal band. Their second album, 1995’s ‘Chiaroscuro’, is actually a worthy example of what latter day Death could have been if only Chuck had the compositional chops of many of his followers. But it is Creepmime’s debut ‘Shadows’, released in 1993, that concerns us today. This is certainly the more obviously doom influenced of their two releases, but certainly not in the unbearably downbeat direction of Winter or diSEMBOWELMENT. This is doom in the classic, melodic sense of the word. Think the malevolence of Demigod with the melodic sensibility of early Paradise Lost for an approximation of many of the riffs on display here.

The production is spearheaded by Patrick Mameli, who in taking on the job thankfully decided to drop his ambitions to roboticism on ‘Spheres’ released the same year. Instead we are given a classic early 90s mix of crisp yet organic drums, meaty guitars with plenty of body and clarity to them, and straightforward vocals set tastefully low in the mix. It’s all pleasingly straightforward, acknowledging that the strength of Creepmime is their pronounced sense of melody, so much so that it really needs very little aesthetic adornment to give it legs. The vocals are a mid-range monstrous bark, which takes on an almost romantic vibe when set to riffs that borrow from excitable heavy metal stylings as much as they do fully fledged death metal.

As mentioned, the packaging of this release is fairly homogenous, which is just as well as the riffs themselves take us on a wild ride through metal’s history to that point. There is the malevolent drone of Demigod, which sees glum melodic inflections carried along by deep, ringing chords and mid-paced drum patterns. There are more elongated passages where the lead guitars move away from the confines of sequential riffcraft and attempt to articulate extended and freeform melodic passages in a similar manner to Paradise Lost of the time. Then there’s tracks like ‘Chinese Whispers’, which takes us on a tour of heavy metal riffing, only to culminate in an almost euphoric guitar solo set to a chord sequence so satisfying it would work as a standalone piece of music. It brought to mind the outro to ‘Fade to Black’ in its release of pathos and catharsis without falling into the overtly sentimental.

It’s this mastery of light and dark that makes this album special. For instance the next track, ‘Soon Ripe, Soon Rotten’ sees them flex their gothic muscles further with dark and rich melodies and whispered vocals. Accenting many of these moments is that all important ambiguity at the heart of death metal. Creepmime will work in odd and unexpected chords to throw the listener off balance, flexing their progressive chops, but also lending the music a sense of transcendence beyond a pure good/evil binary. This would put it on a par with many of the best releases of this era were it not for the weaker structure across the album, with midpoint and closing finales left somewhat underdeveloped. This small detriment aside however, ‘Shadows’ is an overlooked triumph of 90s death metal. Atonality, traditional melody, dissonance, tonal ambiguity, all are deployed by Creepmime to create a unique sonic space with its own individuality. This is an act of world building, and stands in direct contrast to many contemporary releases for simple reason that all too often modern musicians become slaves to technique, letting it dictate the entire colour and character of the music, and thus losing any sense of idiosyncrasy in the process.

Creepmine have no problem indulging their musical whims. But so pronounced is their sense of melody, and their ability to compose and arrange a focused, flowing piece of melodic metal, that the end result is tight and efficient as opposed to garish or tasteless. There is a grace and charm to their melodic identity that justifies a certain indulgence of quirks to the point where they seem thoroughly appropriate in the context of ‘Shadows’.

Originally published at Hate Meditations

The path to hell is pathed with good intentions... - 82%

enigmatech, February 6th, 2021
Written based on this version: 1993, CD, Mascot Records

Shadows is the debut album from Holland's prog-death metal band Creepmime, and it shows a band with a pretty unique, creative sound that combines a few different influences. There's clearly a lot of influence from the likes of Death or was actually produced by everyone's favorite self-proclaimed "death metal god" (read: douchebag) himself, Patrick Mameli - hence the "death metal" tag, but it's also quite melodic, with lots of strong melodies and isn't afraid to showcase a little heavy metal tendencies now and again, with a touch of Iron Maiden or maybe even King Diamond showing up in the mix. There's also an obvious Paradise Lost influence, maybe a little Tiamat as well...a slight doom edge can be discerned in the general flow of these songs, and there's a light sprinkle of "goth" over everything. Needless to say, it's a pretty interesting sound!

The musicianship here is pretty solid, and the songwriting is on point - the songs are all on the longer side (5-6 mins on average) but the band does a great job mixing those elements together to create a cohesive whole and it feels well-rounded and the length doesn't become a problem. It's interesting to note that while this album could easily be categorized as some form of "death metal", it's not very heavy at all. It's got a certain level of aggression that it maintains pretty well (well, for the most part - more on that later) but similar to Iron Maiden the band never sees fit to pound your head in with brutal riffs. Everything is mid-paced, as well, and the general lack of aggression gives this album an almost "laid back" feel compared to most other death metal. The melodies are perhaps the strongest thing this album has to offer, with album closer "My Soul Flayed Bare" being a particularly poignant example with it's utterly gorgeous, and deeply emotional guitar leads, but the riffs themselves never fail to be creative like in "Chinese Whispers", which prominently features this really cool pinch harmonic-driven riff that makes it one of the strongest tracks on the entire disc.

The only real weak link here is the singer, Rogier Hakkaart. The guy's voice is really nothing special in my opinion, he's not terrible but his growls are pretty standard and unremarkable at his best. At his worst, he sounds like he's growled for too long w/o a break and you can hear his voice start to whimper a bit and grow weak in some places. There's even a song where he doesn't growl at all and just whispers the entire time ("Soon Ripe Soon Rotten") and it's here those goth tendencies mentioned earlier reach their apex - as silly as it sounds on paper it does admittedly have some of the best riffs on the entire disc and thus it's one of the standout track for me. Unfortunately, Hakkaart even fucks up doing those whispers and seemingly runs out of breath a few times (???) with the vocals occasionally turning into these weird whimpering sounds. The worst part about this, is that the other guitar player Andy Judd (the main composer and basically brainchild of this band, as far as I know) does vocals instead on one song ("The Way of All Flesh") and his voice is much better! Much stronger and more distinctive. Why oh why couldn't he have been the singer of this band instead?

Speaking of Judd, he also wrote most of the lyrics on the album (together with bassist Mark Hope). The lyrics are pretty interesting, and the booklet (at least the original Mascot release) features a sentence or two explaining what the themes of each song are. Basically, these songs are deep philosophizing on the human condition, topics include jerks ("The Fruits of Ill Virtue"), love ("The Way of All Flesh" & "My Soul Flayed Bare"), the search for religious truth ("Chinese Whispers"), personal betterment ("Gather the Shattered"), etc...overall the lyrics are pretty well written, deep and emotional without feeling pretentious, and it fits the general vibe of this album pretty nicely as they're overall not particularly dark or depressing, instead putting forward a generally hopeful attitude towards life.

Overall, this is a very good album - but it's not exactly great and certainly not perfect, at least not in my opinion. It's got a unique and creative sound with quality songwriting and musicianship but has a few flaws that do drag it down compared to bands like Threnody, for example. I would definitely recommend this one if you're a diehard fan of stuff like Phlebotomized or Supuration, as it's really quite good for what it is, just don't expect another Immense Intense Suspense or The Cube.

Suffer the Shadows... - 85%

Nightmare_Reality, May 3rd, 2012

Progressive death metal (or progressive anything for that matter) is a genre of music that I actually go out of my way to avoid. It's just boring to my ears, and I'd rather be pummeled by Bolt Thrower-like grooves, submerged by the doomy excellence of Autopsy or mesmerized by the phenomenal music of a Dismember or a Convulse. But, there are always exceptions to any rule, and the Netherlands' own Creepmime is the exception to my own personal preference. There aren't any keyboard solos or piano interludes on "Shadows," nor are there any intricate structures that seem to go nowhere or terrible clean vocals thrown in, just incredibly solid death metal that compliments the Netherlands scene nicely.

While Asphyx are the kings of death/doom over in the Netherlands, Creepmime manages to conjure up some great melodies and riffs that have a very doomy edge to them. In fact, this whole record is based around midpaced riffs that are highly driven by melodies. "Soon Ripe, Soon Rotten" and "My Soul Flayed Bare" both have intros that feature fantastic melodies that are both memorable and atmospheric, while "The Fruits of Ill Virtue" and "Chinese Whispers" command the listener's attention with stellar midpaced riffs that are interwoven with top-notch melodic passages throughout. As with any band that tries to create a sort of aura, Creepmime does a brilliant job of bringing forth a dark and gloomy feeling that is most present on "Gather the Shattered," but there is also a subtle upbeat and almost happy vibe that can be heard throughout, and that's mainly because of the insane amount of melody present (And I don't mean that melo-death, Gothenburg kind of melody, that's terrible).

As you would expect from a progressive band, the bassist and drummer both get in some decent to great fills, but they never really command the music, as it should be. The soloing on this album is also fantastic, again as expected. The vocals are typical death metal fare, and they sound damn-near identical to Dave Ingram during his performance on "The Grand Leveller." Overall, "Shadows" isn't the most premier death metal album around, but it definitely stands out and is worth giving a listen if you're a fan of bands like Autopsy, diSEMBOWELMENT, Winter, Amorphis and the like.

"The Fruits of Ill Virtue"
"Suffer the Shadows"
"My Soul Flayed Bare"

Originally written for Nightmare Reality Webzine.

Assertive doom metal - 90%

cotarelo, February 7th, 2010

A hybrid of death metal and heavy metal played with a melodic doom metal style and atmosphere.

This is booming melodic doom metal that sets a contemplative melody of disconsolation that will serve like the background of the song and then undergo a series of tempo changes like a faster death metal band. The whole atmosphere is of aggravation yet unlike most doom metal, this music exudes a joyful however scrutinizing attitude towards life. The fundamental rhythms and tones aim not for depressive funeral metal but a meditative ambience where a slower pace and doom metal aesthetic is just the medium to what they wish to express. Instead of the typical “the world is pointless, I wish I was dead” attitude of bad doom metal, these guys think “we live in a seemingly dead world I wish I was alive”.

Lead guitar melodies possess a heavy metal feel to them, playfully bitter and sullen flow slowly to the front to set the mood, then gracefully fades to the background under the hoarse puffing growls like a similar Bolt Thrower. Then drums pick up on complexity and speed and weave an awesome web of multi rhythms and tempo changes with both punch and subtlety. Like if moving at slightly different pace, thunderous death metal phrases explode in a war like stroke before harmonious guitar solos wrap it all up in spectacular form before returning to the initial melodious woe.

All music is dark and rhythmically compelling, emotional but never dramatic, complex but eloquent, highly technical but never egocentric. In other words, it is both expressive and intelligent. Guitars are not so down tuned but sort of mid-range which work perfectly with the dissonant melodic lines that pervade the entire album and give it that doomish yet abrasive quality. Lyrics reflect a poetic diagnosis of the world and life. They are “truths” of society, the ego and self, which seek to root and explain the basis of pain, suffering and pessimism and the way these affect our lives with affliction but suggest that with logical thinking we might overcome the flaws that entrap us.

A joyful doom metal record that embraces life, played with technical death metal flair and heavy metal melody.