Formed in 2010, France’s Creeping Fear play dark and brutal death metal that takes a lot of influence from many of the classic 90s acts from Florida. Their debut full length Onward to Apocalypse, released in 2017, offered up plenty of familiar elements but did them with the level of precision and power one would expect. But in the time that has passed the band has gone through some changes, as this year’s Hategod Triumph debuts a new bassist and drummer. With this new lineup in place the fundamental approach Creeping Fear utilizes hasn’t changed, but they’ve made some tweaks that make this follow-up even more aggressive and dense which makes the music stick with listeners even more.
The tonality throughout Hategod Triumph is pure Floridian with maybe a little bit of bands like Immolation thrown in for good measure, as the guitar and bass spread forth darkness and grime while still having a considerable amount of power. Tempos move seamlessly between mid-tempo crawls and faster blasting where melodies swirl over top of the pummeling foundation, with the technicality and precision of the playing channeling bands like Angelcorpse and Hate Eternal at times. Creeping Fear isn’t seeking to change any elements of this well-established sound, instead seeking to capture the essence of it and they succeed in this regard. There are two factors that make Hategod Triumph capable of leaving an even greater impact than its predecessor, the first of which is the change in production. Onward to Apocalypse had a lot of polish but this album takes things up a notch with an even fuller and aggressive sound. This is the type of death metal that feels like it’s expanding all around you, and the density of the layers bring a great balance of old and new variants of the genre. Secondly, Creeping Fear has trimmed things down a bit and doesn’t drag things out as much as before, letting the riffs twist and turn without hanging on to ideas for too long. Songs like “We Belong to the Crypts” are examples of the band at their best, as they nail that balance between darker, churning atmosphere and sheer brutality.
Despite the lineup changes within Creeping Fear, Clément Ducouret still remains from the band’s formation so if you’ve heard any of their previous material his growls and screams still come through with the same amount of intensity. Along with how the production changes have made the instrumentals come through with even more power and weight, the vocals come through even more aggressive and in your face, which is a welcome change. Sometimes death metal growls can get washed out with how much low end the rest of the band is generating, so I can appreciate just how forceful they are throughout Hategod Triumph. The regular shifts between the low growls and higher shrieks give the performance a good deal of variety and keep Creeping Fear feeling less one-dimensional than some of the other bands out there.
Creeping Fear has made some subtle tweaks to their approach that make a significant difference, and while they’re channeling a familiar variant of death metal I can’t help but want to go back for more when it’s delivered this well. The French band has a knack for capturing that brutality and technical edge alongside the denser atmosphere that’s enticing, so fans of Hate Eternal and Immolation will want to take note. With this push forward I expect even greater things to come from these guys, and they’ll be one to keep following. Hategod Triumph is available from Dolorem Records.
-Review by Chris Dahlberg
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