Review Summary: Uncle Dull and The Slowbeats
Five years ago, Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats took the world by surprise with their Black Sabbath worship. This late '60s-early '70s pastiche is part of the stoner/psychedelic/doom revival that has taken off in the past decade and Vol. I
was a chaotic, lo-fi affair that offered both casual and hardcore fans of the genre that urgent, raw journey through a darkened soul's sins. Recorded on a tight budget by some people who lacked jobs amid other life difficulties, you could actually feel the sincerity that fueled the raging record, bringing out some of their finest cuts so early in the career. Plus, Kevin Starrs' mysterious persona, a low-key profile and deep interest in the occult definitely magnified the listener's curiosity. I must admit I thoroughly enjoyed it and always makes me come back to it. Since their second effort, Blood Lust
maintained that vibe and was marketed by Rise Above (a haven for doom/sludge enthusiasts), the band was soon out of the gutter, acquiring a cult following.
By the time Mind Control
came out in 2013, that excitement was slowly starting to wear out, especially since Uncle Acid had plans to grow out of that independent status even though they still don't admit it. So, the big breakthrough came when Black Sabbath themselves asked to open their shows throughout Europe. Suddenly everyone was interested in them, while promoters all over the world started booking The Deadbeats to perform. From poverty to stardom were only four years and to be honest, kudos to them.
Now there must've been some unprecedented pressure that haunted the band during the sessions for the 4th LP. Dubbed as their most violent and blood-soaked release, The Night Creeper
follows a homeless person who seems to be involved in all sorts of murders, nothing new. In fact this may as well be the 4th season in the Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats series. My issue with the album is that it falls flat because Starrs & Co. figured out it's best to give more of the same for a fourth time in a row, mainly now when all eyes are on them. Most of it feels dull and exhausted, as it indulges in the same themes and patterns as previous installments did. Also, the music feels lazy and does nothing to differentiate itself from the other records. Moreover, the guys seem to be stuck in mid-tempo mania, rewriting the same patterns again and again. There are almost no faster segments this time around and ever since they polished their sound, that hellish vibe is gone. Weird enough, the pop influences do very little to help as for the most part the tunes are faceless. Take the title track or 'Downtown', two stagnant dirges unable to offer any of the promised thrills. There are no dynamics, relying on the same chords for 6 minutes, while Kevin's voice becomes irritating at times. If there was any experimentation, these riffs could've stood out or at least evolved into different pieces.
Luckily, the potential we all saw at some point does show up every once in a while, giving us a couple of enjoyable moments in the middle of The Night Creeper
. 'Pusher Man' and 'Melody Lane' are two heavy yet melodic tracks that share some memorable vocal hooks. The noisy riffs are basic, but catchy, while the solos soar, reminding us The Deadbeats can still churn some good stuff if they put their minds to it. There is also the lead single, 'Waiting For Blood', whose quirky rhythm could've been exploited more and the quiet closer 'Slow Death' is a moody, 9-minute ballad, that takes forever to take off. Falling into the lazy category, these might have ended better if there had been more to them. Maybe they wanted to make you feel uneasy or frustrated much like the protagonist, because it takes the latter so long to grow into a crazy, dissonant coda with nothing actually happening for the most part. Even so, this nihilism and general excess can be best left to Electric Wizard. No one does it like them.
Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats' lo-fi days are over. Unfortunately, they don't want to admit that and seek acceptance from both worlds. Whether they are stuck in that serial killer universe and Sabbath soundtracks or don't want to stray too far in fear of failure, it is time they found a new inspiration, or at least one that can co-exist with their passions. As a result of their indulgence, The Night Creeper
feels somewhat forced to be something it isn't. The mindset is far from what we heard on Vol. I
and Blood Lust
, although the ideas are the same. Recycling is good, however, 4 albums later it turned against them.