Other than Church Road Records, is there a label more successful than the US-based Prosthetic Records when it comes to discovering and nurturing the UK’s best new bands? Venom Prison, Pupil Slicer, Dawn Ray’d, and Death Goals are just four artists that have put the British Isles on the map thanks to their American cultivators, and now it’s the turn of Geordie metalcore quartet, Creak, to benefit from the same platform. This means that doors will open to them from the head offices of Kerrang!, Metal Hammer and the Radio One Rock Show, but what do the Newcastle quartet bring to the table in a city that already boasts artists such as metalcore disrupters, Rituals, and the alternative thrash metal of Kilonova?
Undoubtedly, the A&R department at Prosthetic Records like the volatility of this band. We should use the term “metalcore” with some caution to disassociate Creak from the anodyne crap that this genre produces these days. You’ll find no whiny emo choruses or gleaming Iron Maiden solos here. Vocalist, Jack Dunn, seldom changes his approach from a hysterical rage of Greg Puciato proportions, and the guitarist draws more from Jesus Piece than While She Sleeps. The only thing that glistens is the hourglass that dangles in front of your eyes as the band subject you to thirty-seven minutes of intense alienation and despair. Most of it will hold your attention like the passing of the Flying Scotsman locomotive on its journey from London to Edinburgh.
Why Creak self-identify with nu metal is a mystery, and it should not discourage you from listening to Depth Perception. Opener, ‘Crossroads’, is the type of claustrophobic hardcore that Vein.fm do so well. Bass-heavy fuzz and half-formed guitar grooves chug their way through the mix in search of places to breathe. Of course, Jack Dunn makes this impossible with his aggressive hold of the microphone. No sooner does a new riff begin before its replacement comes into being. This type of impatience is enthralling enough to pass for spontaneity. ‘Hare in the Woods’ flexes its muscles like Code Orange stripped of their industrial leanings. How can you resist the glitchy breakdown chaos at the end of this number?
On first listen, Depth Perception loses its appeal after seven songs. Be patient. Give it a minimum of three spins if you want to make sense of this LP. It’s not just violent drop-tuned guitars and manic drum fills. These features will put you in a chokehold on ‘Restless Dreams’ and the body-slamming might of ‘Harrow’. The former creates a sense of anxiety in the way the drummer wants to accelerate the tempo but receives a knockback from the guitarist, who prefers to present his bandmate with a puzzle book. Riffs weave in and out with no concern for rhythmic perfection. On the latter, you might detect a post-hardcore vibe in the middle eight, but it’s business as usual for most of the bludgeoning.
Many of the cuts here will leave you with a bloody nose. The title track is the standout blast of metallic hardcore chaos that you demand once you accept that this record will be one to test the strain on your optic nerves. By contrast, the clean electric guitars and ruminating vocal lines of ‘Left to Heaven’ risk losing momentum at track seven, but only in the last three songs do Creak stumble. ‘I’m Not Alone in the Dark’ appears to be an alternative version of ‘Left to Heaven’ that they tagged on as a bonus track. ‘Cold Shoulder’ works through a succession of recycled beatdown riffs that rely too much on their low tunings for heavy impact. Dunn’s risky attempt to inject a morbid curiosity into his voice register sounds like a sanitised version of Travis Ryan (Cattle Decapitation) when he goes into his spooky devil’s child personality.
They’re not in a position yet to reinvent metalcore by returning it to the mean streets, but Creak show on their debut LP that they have the rage and the riffs to return the genre to its rougher auto-didact origins. The fightback begins here.
Release Date: 18/08/2023
Record Label: Prosthetic Records
Standout tracks: Crossroads, Restless Dreams, Depth Perception
Suggested Further Listening: Orthodox – Learning to Dissolve (2022), Code Orange – Forever (2016), Negative Frame – The Mercy Killing EP (2023)