A band like Creeping Death has a mission that’s both clear and straightforward, and yet also incredibly challenging. Playing a well-established style of death metal, the template and expectations are all in line. All you have to do is write memorable riffs and perform the other parts well enough and you’ve got a solid record. However, therein lies the real difficulty. It’s been done so many times already, especially in the last 10 years, that we’re all on a bit of an OSDM burnout. To be sure, Boundless Domain is a meaty, well-constructive work of deadly metal. But it’s one you need to still have an appetite for in 2023.
Creeping Death‘s style is an amalgamation of several classic styles from across death metal history. However, there’s a consistent thread of mid-range, chugging patterns with occasional tempo changes to mix things up. This all recalls a lot of familiar names: Grave, Massacre, Vader, Jungle Rot and Obituary, along with many of the modern luminaries put out by labels like 20 Buck Spin. Between the nodes and snare hits, you can also catch distant notes of Bolt Thrower and Runemagick.
When the opening title track kicks in, you immediately feel the power of the production. The guitars and bass complement each other perfectly, booming out of the speakers like sets of howitzers firing off in unison. Reese Alavi‘s vocals remind me a lot of Peter Wiwczarek from Vader — full and throaty, with a touch of raspiness depending on the syllables. In this way, his style also recalls Jungle Rot‘s Dave Matrise. Finally, Lincoln Mullins‘ drums deliver everything you could want from this style.
The album’s highlights include the fist-pounding goodness on “The Parthian Shot,” a song that shows the band at its anthemic best. This is the song that gets the giant circle pit going, so let’s hope the band gets the chance to play some of the big European festivals to maximize this. Corpsegrinder‘s guest spot on “Intestinal Wrap” was a nice touch, lending his signature gutterals to the mix. Songs like “Remnants Of the Old Gods” and “Vitrified Earth” also showcase the band’s songwriting chops, bringing out subtle hints of the band’s hardcore influence.
As I mentioned earlier, the album’s production is crisp, strong and thick. If that’s what you go for, great, you’ll love this album. And I can definitely appreciate it as well, but I feel like there’s something that gets lost when death metal sounds a little too put-together. The band’s earlier work on EPs like Sacrament of Death and Specter of War bears a lot of the same bloodline as this album, but maintains a less-predictable raw edge. I wouldn’t dare diminish the talent on display here, but I just feel like the approach taken will make them get a little too easily confused with contemporaries like Skeletal Remains, Gatecreeper, Witch Vomit, Outer Heaven and the rest of the gang.
But hey, that’s all good stuff, and so is this album. So if you like them cheeseburgers and are still hungry for more, don’t listen to me. Dig in to the Boundless Domain.