*** Go to our YouTube channel in the link below to see the video review of this record in episode #2 of the SBR Album of the Week.
Romanian entertainers, Creepy Willie, promise ‘a sinister, loathsome spectacle that is bound to give you cold shivers up and down your spine’. You’d be forgiven for thinking you’re in the presence of three circus performers who moonlight as concert promoters during the day, but the band’s art is of the highest calibre. Indeed, The Creepy Willie Show is a sophisticated blend of death metal, carnival music, hard rock, and emotive blues. It’s not for the squeamish, but it’s a fabulous freakshow for the curious.
Fans of the debut Mr Bungle album will appreciate the vibe here with its sordid-smiling exterior and violent gratification enflaming the dazzling grooves. The psychopathic tangents are scarier than a naked hermaphrodite. Each song comes with a raucous introduction from a live show announcer enunciating his consonants in a lustful European English. Opener, ‘Zomberman’, promises a slimy spectacle in the pre-show hype and lives up to the bloodthirst with a succession of drop-tuned doom chords shrouded in vibrato bends. It’s like a syncopated version of Obituary doing cabaret. The personality of the vocalist sways between that of a rabid extreme metal snarl and the exaggerated amusement of a circus announcer. Listen how the group mix carnival rhythms and death metal tremolos without deviating too far into the genre-hopping that bedevils many of the outlier bands in this niche.
Creepy Willie urge you to have a good time and ask that you suspend your disbelief. Yet they also relax you with some of the finest progressive blues this side of Jimi Hendrix. ‘Slithering Twins’ takes you to a late Sunday afternoon watching the sunset on the porch with a cold beer before the band reach for the alternative-metal pizzazz of Primus. You’d understand if someone thought they asked Zakk Wylde to provide the vintage riffs and palm-muted gaps among the John Frusciante melodies.
Lucian Pop and Ionuț Mone share guitar and bass duties in Creepy Willie, and it’s clear both are musicians of distinguished learning. You’ll admire how they work around a chromatic slide riff in ‘Cannibal Babies’. The muscular moments sound like Biohazard, but the circus playacting in the middle section will surprise you as much as the gruesome disembowelment screams and pinch-harmonic whirls. Can you see yourself lowering the tuning pegs on your air guitar for ‘La Llorona’? What a magnificent opportunity to whip out your finest Trouble hooks and Ozzy Osbourne impressions. Here, the hip-shaking grooves come to life with a full-bodied mix where all instruments make themselves heard. Sebastian Damian can be proud of his performance at the audio mixing desk.
Though eclectic and never afraid to take a wrong turn for the fun of it, Creepy Willie deserve credit for their unity of vision and discipline. They understand that you can play with conventional structures and make them appear more complicated than they are. The repugnant creepy-crawly rhythms and contortions of ‘Hack Slash Rebirth’ throb like healing body sores. You’ll become infected if you get too close, which is why it’s best to keep your distance. The band members are like comic book superheroes who lost the confidence of the citizens they serve and protect. They might be the butt of all jokes, but they don’t mind this role. You can’t resist the urge to point and whisper behind their backs, yet you can only admire the way they mix Ozzy Osbourne’s No More Tears era of heroic rock with the pernicious fangs of Macabre’s carnival death metal on ‘Gypsy and the Brain’.
Romania has form when it comes to avant-garde metal, thanks to the cult discography of Katharos XIII. Creepy Willie are nothing like the darkwave black metal experimentation of their fellow countrymen, but they operate with the same licence to do as they please, knowing that you’ll follow them on their expedition to places unseen.
Release Date: 13/07/2022
Record Label: Self Released
Standout tracks: Slithering Twins, Cannibal Babies, Hack Slash Rebirth
Suggested Further Listening: Mr Bungle – Mr Bungle (1990), Macabre – Carnival of Killers (2020), Ozzy Osbourne – No More Tears (1991)