Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats – The Night Creeper (Rise Above Records)

Of all the albums I looked forward to in 2015, my anticipation was most feverish for The Night Creeper, the fourth album from Cambridge, England’s Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats. The band’s previous two albums (good luck finding the first one) were excellent takes on all things heavy and psychedelic from the late-’60s and early-’70s, and, when coupled with their rising profile (including a tour opening for Black Sabbath), all signs pointed towards The Night Creeper lifting them out of the psychedelic metal ghetto and on towards better things. While it doesn’t meet the unrealistic expectations I saddled it with, it’s still an inspired listen.

“Waiting For Blood” opens the album in typical Uncle Acid fashion, which means it combines a Sabbathy riff, Crazy Horse garage rock slop, and Revolver-era Beatle vocals. Perhaps the song is too mid-tempo and too closely attached to its main riff to truly excite you down to your core, but it’s rock solid and features a great guitar solo from singer/lead guitarist Kevin Starrs, one of the few players doing anything interesting with the instrument these days. Elsewhere, the album is heavy on doomy tracks, with “Downtown,” “Pusherman,” and the title track all great restatements of the thunderous glory of early Black Sabbath, with Kevin Starrs’ twisted lyrics adding something new to the mix. Several other tracks break that mold and veer off in interesting directions. “Yellow Moon” is a guitar and mellotron instrumental that adds to the album’s creepy feel. “Melody Lane” is an obvious choice for a lead single, with a killer chorus and a ’60s garage rock sound that could almost pass for a song from the Nuggets compilation. “Slow Death” closes out the album proper with nine-minutes of musical bleed-out and brittle guitar interludes a la “Down By The River” (Neil Young is a huge influence – and an uncommon one for a band classified as “metal”). With the album’s focus on death and murder, you couldn’t ask for a more appropriate bonus tack than the acoustic funeral procession of “Back Motorcade.”

While it may not be the critical or commercial breakthrough I hoped for, and it could use a few more up-tempo songs to provide the immediate impact that “I’ll Cut You Down,” “Mind Crawler,” or “Evil Love” gave their previous albums, The Night Creeper digs its way deeper into your brain with each listen, and it affirms that Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats are the best band making heavy music right now.