I’ve seen the Belgian Melodic Death/Black Metal band CREATURE, which saw the light of day in 1998, at work a few times, the first time being – I believe – their participation in the Wacken Metal Battle final of 2010. Their first release came out in 2002: a 6-track demo titled “Apocalyptic Dawn”. This was followed by the 2003 EP “Triumph Of The Unborn”. Four years later, the band’s debut full-length was released: “Dying Nation”.
And now, anno 2014, seven years since the last release, a new EP is born: “Utopia In Flames”. This one contains seven tracks, including an intro, and ends after 30 minutes of playtime. Are they all new, or rather, recent songs? According to bassist Michaela Van Fleteren not exactly, but these songs were bound to be recorded some day and now it has happened.
Live-wise CREATURE has shared the stage with several bands, like MÅNEGARM, ROTTING CHRIST, SUIDAKRA, DYSCORDIA and more; Metalcamp in Slovenia is also on their palmares.
The EP commences with the intro “Utopia In Flames Part 1”, which sounds quite cinematic and epic once its unfolded. The barrel explodes as “Armageddon” is unleashed, however, with the melodic touch of the preceding intro. Variety is key with CREATURE, as this track has Death/Thrash parts with screams and growls. Musically the guitarwork deserves kudos, if only because of its catchy character. To further expand that variety, not just melodically, the band even sounds inspired by such giants as AMON AMARTH and NOVEMBERS DOOM. And yes, there’s room for a slower approach, venturing a little into the realms of Doom Metal, if only shortly. So far, a job well done.
Armageddon leads to chaos leads to war or, in this case, “Bellum”. This one builds up slowly, advances steadily and unfolds into a BEHEMOTH-like thunderstorm (“Slaves Shall Serve” or something similar), yet CREATURE head into a Death/Thrash style afterwards. The pre-chorus or bridge reminded me, on a vocal level (screams), of (old) EPICA. The band also thought of its headbanging fans, as the rhythmic bridge later on allows for such movement. The music seems to have been infused with a touch of Folk, judging by how it sounds / is played. As the song started, like BEHEMOTH, so it ends. CREATURE continue to deliver.
No time to waste, here’s “Internecion”, kicking off instantly with melodic Death/Black Metal. Yes, CREATURE’s music also has some Black Metal influences here and there. Screams/shrieks are joined by clean vocals. There’s probably a good reason for this, but it’s a tricky business when using clean vocals in Death Metal. The chorus is bombastic and growls reign here. The verses reminded me, although there are probably better references, of old AMON AMARTH, but then with screams, not Johan Hegg’s typical growling. The breakdown part (with low growls) takes a few turns with a straight-forward bridge where screams dominate, after which the whole transcends into melodic AMON AMARTH-style Metal towards the end. No complaints this far.
The way in which “Serpent’s Legacy” begins already hints at the danger ahead. The clean intro is built gradually and sounds like the upcoming assault will not be gentle. And so it happens: blasting, furious Death Metal with Black Metal shrieks. For the chorus the band again from the BEHEMOTH barrel, offering a demonic wall of sound. Like before, the music doesn’t remain the same, as melody also plays a role and even a clean, hymnic piece can be detected at some point. However, the raging fury of Death Metal has not yet finished then.
As the title indicates, this isn’t a ballad: “Siege Of Storms”. It begins with a building theme, followed by a bombastic outbreak of hymnic music, which I assume is the chorus part, as it comes back a few times. And so the song takes off, comparable to NOVEMBERS DOOM, to some extent. Fast and slow(er) parts take turns, but in between you’ll find a rhythmic break that leads to a sung part. Clean vocals and extreme music, it remains a dangerous combination, as it doesn’t always work. Later on the band suddenly pulls the plug for a clean break. Pulls the plug, because this change happens too abruptly. The heavy guitars and growls that follow aren’t that well done, don’t fit well here. Luckily the band returns to top gear to take on the last minutes of the song.
Last but not least: “Utopia In Flames Part 2”. This track takes off directly with shrieks and growls, while the music can be described as Doom/Death Metal with melodic touches in between. Not exactly the happiest of tunes, yet CREATURE managed to add a sniff of Folk into the music. Not in terms of instrumentation (violin, flute, accordion, …), but the way the music is played. When there’s no need of vocals, there are solos to fill those holes.
Despite a few details that don’t work well (or maybe that’s more a matter of taste) and the fact that it’s not always easy to distinguish verse from chorus from bridge… “Utopia In Flames” does turn out to be a release of which the band can be (very) proud! Extreme Metal is the basis for everything, but the melodies, changes in tempos, etc. make it all the more worthwhile. As it’s a self-release, you’ll have to contact the band for your copy.
- Utopia In Flames Part 1
- Serpent’s Legacy
- Siege Of Storms
- Utopia In Flames Part 2
Tim Keppens – vocals, guitar
Michaela Van Fleteren – bass
Wouter Keppens – drums