The success of Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats - or rather Uncle Acid and the deadbeats if you prefer the often used variation of the band's name - is one that is quite the staggering vision to witness. 2010 saw their limited debut release Volume 1 ignite such an appreciation in the doom metal communty to quickly grab the attention of Rise Above Records who not only reissued said album, but unleashed their second effort, Blood Lust, a year later. Two years passed and the highly successful Mind Control set a new benchmark for the doom/psych rock style as a whole, not to mention the band themselves. For 2015, the now trio (as credited in the booklet) of guitarist Yotem Rubinger, drummer Itamar Rubinger, and Uncle Acid himself (credited as Kevin R. Starrs in the physical retail version for all other instruments, song writing, and some production), have slipped their fourth album, The Night Creeper, onto store shelves everywhere seemingly under the radar. But is this a sign that there is distrust in the quality of this release somewhere, or is it one of their most mind blowing attempts yet?

One of the biggest aspects of The Night Creeper to immediately stand out is that this isn't your typical Uncle Acid and The Deadbeats album. Unlike the past discography, this one doesn't mask it's dark and sadistic lyrical content behind a hazy cloud of psychedelics. Yes, the trippiness does exist to an extent, and there is a hint of smoke from time to time, but for the most part this one stands as a far more crisp entity that breaks free of the preconceptions their fans have. And, well, it works, but not all the time. The strongest offerings are still those that feel more lively and hide the evil well, which are few and far between in this realm of obvious falsities that can take on more of a blues or noir presence. Where the band was once crafty and smarter than the average bear, that illusion is omitted for a gritty, blunt approach that sounds far more open to the general public who might have missed the point of the band's music all together over the last three albums for what one hopes is the sake of a setting to the compositions.

"Downtown" displays that, but actually has a bit of a slower NWOBHM hook style to the main riffs, coupled with a sixties rock sensation to the chorus. It's an engaging presence that plays up the band's doom angle well, not to mention also bolsters the bass guitar presence a bit, something many tracks seem to bury in comparison. However, the increased volume and lack of haze are met with a fairly crisp production, pulling you out of the smokey occult filled world the band has often woven with ease. It also amplifies the vocal effect that Kevin Starrs utilizes, which actually makes his voice sound more mechanical than soft and manipulative, removing the hidden sinister element that only those willing to look past the mask could pick up on. Whether this sort of presence was intentional or not, it does manage to kill the mood a bit, which is unfortunate as this is an otherwise catchy track. "Inside", however, has a hint of modern flair behind the mild hardcore authority-like grooves. Of all the tracks, this is one that feels the most traditional to the style, but even then it still retains a fairly upbeat presence to the Edgar Allan Poe 'The Cask of Amontillado' style tale behind it.

"Yellow Moon" is a brief instrumental that sounds as though it was torn from an early horror flick from the fifties or sixties, the kind of scene when gazing across a landscape that may be deserted, or even simply heavily forested. While enjoyable for what it is, it does sound like the score to a short montage in those type of films that comes off more as padding than anything equipped to furthering the story, acting as an unnecessary folksy intermission for this effort. But then there's "Slow Death", the longest of tracks on the release. The slower music and rain effects in the background, coupled with distant vocals, make for an odd experience. While far from bad, it carries more of a bluesy noir soul approach that masks its darker intent the singing and distortions that come off like a twisted Randy Newman cut fail to present. Much of this also heads into "Black Motorcade", the uncredited tenth track of the album, though it's far less enjoyable. While The Night Creeper sounds like it was a mastered live recording (which some articles say is the case), this is untouched, not to mention sounds as out of place as it does unfinished in a first draft released as a finished novel at full retail price sort of way. One listen and it becomes obvious why this b-side is treated like a hidden track.

But, when things don't sound as forced for the sake of analog intent, there's no denying the power this effort holds. "Melody Lane" is riddled with engaging and infectious hooks, casting back to what made Mind Control such a powerful creation. The feel good atmosphere feeds off of the groove heavy riffs and rich haze it and the enthusiasm naturally creates. If you didn't know better, you'd imagine this to be the kind of radio friendly material from back in the glory days of psychedelics. However, hidden under the moving content is something the Manson family would surely approve of: Obsession, lust, and stabbing, all with a bit of a twist conclusion. "Murder Nights" has some extra haziness to the louder buzzing riffs, which adds a little more emotion and life into the performance overall. There's even a hint of tribal ritualism felt in the main verses, shifting quickly into an occult rock presence approaching four minutes in that is as addicting as the lyrical content is influential to the players within it's grim tale.

Unlike before, Uncle Acid and The Deadbeats present an album that is taken more at face value than for what lies underneath the emotionless smile and assurances that all is well in a world of deception and, for what it is, The Night Creeper manages to stand as a good album, though far from their best. In fact, it's such a different experience that if you go in expecting anything like their last three albums, you will be let down [which was the case for this reviewer in particular at first]. What the band has done this time around is shift away from their unique sound to experiment with something far more dark and blunt, often hitting you over the head with it like a hammer to remind you it's meant to be sinister and gritty. While it works for the most part, it just doesn't have the same impact at all outside a subtle bluesy folk tone from time to time that sets urban settings like London, England or New York City from the early nineties as more of a wild west territory. The Night Creeper casts off the upbeat, innocent music used to mask a truly evil intent that mirrors the outer appearance of most killers, a difference maker that perfectly complimented their horror and serial killer lyrical themes, for something a little more traditional for the unobservant that will take some time to grow on the listener.

Review originally posted at Apoch's Metal Review.