By Christopher David
Storytelling has always been a big part of music heavy metal, in particular. One needs look no further than Iron Maiden’s epic historical songs or Motorhead’s obsession with war and combat to get a sense of the often overlooked narrative element to a lot of rock music. At the top of this pile, of course, sits the concept album, which can be a challenging entity. Indeed, most performers who go the concept route end up staying there King Diamond, for example, has built his entire career on one complete story after another, not unlike a Danish, makeup clad Stephen King. It’s a considerable undertaking, and often entails not just an album’s worth of related songs, but the creation of an atmosphere around them.
Enter Uncle Acid’s fourth album, The Night Creeper, based loosely on a Jack the Ripper style serial killer tale, the U.K. quartet’s latest album has all of what we’ve come to expect from the band disquieting harmonies, crunchy, Sabbathstyle riffs, and lyrics dripping with…well, in this case, blood.
On their Chicago tour stop at Metro this past Saturday, the atmosphere was firmly in place. Gothic lamp posts flanked the stage in front of a makeshift alley’s brick wall, and fog rolled out over the stage as the band entered in near darkness and album opener “Waiting for Blood” set the tone for the night. A well balanced set drawing from their entire catalog, the focus remained largely focused on selections from Creeper, with “Inside” and creepily catchy single “Melody Lane” serving as highlights to a set that was light on frills and heavy on maintaining that all-important atmosphere. “Poison Apple” and “Mind Crawler” from 2013’s Mind Control showed up early in the set, and “Murder Nights” helped solidify everyone firmly in the world of the new record. While the band isn’t big on ‘show,’ moving very little on stage in a style not unlike the shoegazer school of performance, it makes up for it with a forboding, shadowy presence. Horror rock is alive and well, and The Night Creeper should be on everyone’s list of this year’s Halloween tunes.