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Creeper – sanguivore – album review

The evolution of Creeper from their early EP releases to now is quite astonishing. Each release has seen the band grow exponentially and now on their third full studio album, ‘Sanguivore’, we see the band ascend to a higher plane of creative mastery. What other band out there would dream of opening an album with a grandiose nine minute saga!

Yes, this album is a work of sheer majesty and magnificence. ‘Cry To Heaven’ follows the epic ‘Further Than Forever’ and sees the band fully embrace the synth-laden, 80’s-esque, theatrical sound that emerged over the course of ‘Sex, Death & the Infinite Void’ and the ‘American Noir’ EP.

Creeper – ‘Cry To Heaven’

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The influences on this album though stretch far and wide, with the scope of its sonic exploration only matched by its ambition. As the record progresses the listener is taken on a musical and mythical journey of vampires, horror and intrigue.

The word masterpiece is overused these days, but the urge to use it for ‘Sanguivore’ is just too irresistible. The problem that Creeper have produced is that with every release you think that they’ve peaked and couldn’t possibly top what they’ve created… and then they go ahead and do just that!

It should probably be illegal to have this much imagination and ingenuity because it’s simply not fair on the competition. The reality is though at this point, certainly in their chosen sphere, there is no competition and Creeper are in a league of their own.

It’s easy to wax lyrical here about this album, because it’s such a well rounded record. There are fantastic singles, or bangers as the kids would say, yet there is also such depth present as well. Pre-release singles such as ‘Teenage Sacrifice’ and ‘Black Heaven’, certainly gave a good insight into what to expect, but listeners really need to dig deep and immerse themselves into ‘Sanguivore’ to fully comprehend its brilliance!

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Album Reviews

Dream Nails

Doom Loop

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Dream Nails have been slowly building momentum and breaking down doors since their formation in 2015. Their self-titled debut album emerged mid-pandemic and gave a glimpse of a band ready to breakout. Sadly, as with all bands releasing music at this time, they were unable to properly capitalise with the world hiding away.

Well the world is now back in full flow for better or for worse and with new vocalist Ishmael Kirby in place so are Dream Nails, ready to smash boundaries once again!

New album, ‘Doom Loop’, opens with a bang as the band call out toxic masculinity on ‘Good Guy’, and continues as it means to go on. This may be deemed a political record due to the various subject matters highlighted but respecting fellow people for who they are without question shouldn’t be a divisive ideal.

Dream Nails – ‘Good Guy’

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To that point ‘Doom Loop’ is a celebration of the power and resilience of diversity, putting the spotlight on the mutual accountability that our communities share in tackling misogyny and discrimination of all kinds. And given recent political statements, you may feel that an album like ‘Doom Loop’ has never been more relevant.

Musically the album is a clear evolution to the sound offered by that self-titled album. Despite the serious and sinister themes of the lyrics, sonically ‘Doom Loop’ is a fun and bouncy record which emphasises the happiness as an act of resistance mentality. This is perhaps best demonstrated on another of the albums singles, ‘Ballpit’.

Dream Nails convey a vitally important message through great music and despite promotional frustrations with their debut and subsequent line-up changes, it would appear with ‘Doom Loop’ the band are still on a trajectory to shatter any glass ceilings above them.

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The Full Pelt Music Podcast – Episode 37 – Dream Nails

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Album Reviews

Black Stone Cherry

Screamin’ at the Sky

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Black Stone Cherry have been a constant to UK hard rock fans now for almost two decades. Regular tours and releases have kept the band relevant and they’ve established themselves as one of the most adored bands around for their core demographic.

Whilst many other bands have undergone drastic changes and re-births, Black Stone Cherry have shown modest sonic exploration and largely stuck to their signature sound. For other bands this tact often inevitably leads to dips in quality as the ideas run out. Not Black Stone Cherry however as they’ve demonstrated a rare knack for delivering consistently quality albums.

In recent years though the band have had to navigate the pandemic, the first loss of a member and what was a slightly lukewarm response to previous album, ‘The Human Condition’. Perhaps fatigue was finally kicking in for the band?

Black Stone Cherry – ‘Nervous’

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Well, any whispers of a downturn in fortunes can be quickly dispelled because on their new album, ‘Screamin’ at the Sky’, the band are here to you remind you why you fell in love with them in the first place!

The title-track and ‘Nervous’ kick the album off with a full throttle attack and neither the pace or quality drop over the course of the record. Each track feels shorter and more succinct, akin to those on ‘Between the Devil & the Deep Blue’ and their self-titled debut.

That winning formula is followed closely, with the band taking something of a back to basics approach as clichéd as that may sound. This really is an album that old school fans with relish and new fans can jump on board with.

Yes, any concerns that the beginning of the end may be upon us are squashed to a pulp by a band still capable of harnessing their raw power and creating something magic. Eight albums in, Black Stone Cherry are as consistent as ever and they remain a reassuring constant in an ever-changing world!

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Album Reviews


Confessions of the Fallen

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Staind are the quintessential early-noughties US radio-rock band. A nostalgic string of hit singles and multi-platinum albums has long established their position in the industry, but they will also know that they’ve hit their commercial peak.

Many in this position have chosen to milk the nostalgia, others have long separated to seek new opportunities and a small handful continue to release records and try to stay relevant. Over the past decade or so, Staind have mainly been the middle option whilst occasionally dipping into option one, but now they are going all in on option number three!

Whilst their own fanbase will be overjoyed at the news, there will also be many naysayers of will laugh, such is the popularity of shooting down bands of Staind’s ilk. Call it the Nickelback effect if you want but there is an equal amount of love and hate out there for radio friendly rock music of their generation.

This combined with singer Aaron Lewis’s outspoken politics the band are something of an easy target, but ‘Confessions of the Fallen’ deserves to be separated from all of the above. After all it’s a brave decision to put out a new album after 12 years, and one that they didn’t need to make.

Staind – ‘Lowest In Me’

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Fans will be glad they did though as musically the record feels like they’ve never been away. Ten tracks spread across thirty-five minutes and you can’t really fault what the band have created at all. The likes of album opener ‘Lowest In Me’ had given a good indication of what to expect and the record fellows suit.

Staind have managed to capture what shot them to great heights in the first place, and this album wouldn’t have felt out of place twenty years ago. That said, it still manages to feel fresh enough that to avoid any nostalgic pitfalls.

There probably weren’t many clamouring for this album to be made, and the band certainly didn’t need to make it, but those that do find themselves checking out ‘Confessions of the Fallen’ will be pleasantly surprised by the quality.

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Album Reviews


Race the Night

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At this point in their thirty year career Ash are something of a safe bet with consistently good records and always solid live. When other bands have self-destructed, lost the magic or faded away, Ash have remained a constant.

The relationships within the trio will of course be one key reason behind this longevity and when early press releases teased Tim Wheeler as describing ‘Race the Night’ as “the sound of the band reveling in the sheer joy of being a band after being separated by time and distance through the insanity of the early 2020s.”, the seeds were sewn for a change.

Change probably isn’t the right word to use though, perhaps re-emergence would suit better because as the band have drip fed singles from the new album many have likened the sound to 2004’s ‘Meltdown’ album in terms is heaviness.

Ash – ‘Race the Night’

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The constant will to pigeonhole and connect releases is always is kneejerk temptation from music press though, and whilst sonically the connection is obvious, ‘Race the Night’ actually stands out for the reason highlighted by Wheeler. That is plain and simply that this sounds like a band having fun and making an album that follows no set rulebook just a desire to unleash their creativity and see what happens.

Well what has happened with ‘Race the Night’ is a sublime slice of pop rock perfection. Fans of the band that have enjoyed recent offerings ‘Kablammo!’ and ‘Islands’ and observed how good those releases are will perhaps be surprised by the quality of this album. That’s because both those albums were very decent and maintained the legacy of the band, but ‘Race the Night’ sees the band take a giant leap forward.

There are of course radio hits, delicate melodies and rifftastic moments spread throughout the well balanced release as you’d expect from Ash, but if in doubt just listen to the fantastic album closer, ‘Like A God – Reprise’. You just can’t help but picture a young band just jamming together in a garage!

Yes, whilst Ash have never failed to deliver the goods, ‘Race the Night’ feels like a special present indeed.

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Album Reviews

Royal Blood

Back to the Water Below

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Royal Blood have been one of the biggest success stories for new rock bands over the past decade. All three of their albums thus far have reached the coveted number one spot and the band have elevated themselves to arena and festival headline status.

All of this creates a natural pressure on the band to keep delivering consistently high standards, and the time has arrived to see whether the band can achieve an incredible quadruple of number one albums.

‘Back to the Water Below’ sees the band handling production fully themselves for the first time having previously worked alongside the likes of Josh Homme and Tom Dalgety. The positives of such a move of course include the unadulterated freedom, but the double-edged sword is that there is nobody to offer assurance and quality control.

After all the bells and whistles that accompanied predecessor ‘Typhoons’, the album title this time around may also refer to the back to basics approach taken by the duo. From opener ‘Mountains At Midnight’ onwards it’s evidently clear that the band have gone back to their roots to use another tired cliché.

Royal Blood – ‘Mountains At Midnight’

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That’s not to say that they haven’t added plenty of polish to the finished product but that there is a slower more methodical sonic style on this collection. That Royal Blood DNA is evident throughout but the album is much more melancholic than those that came before.

This does in many ways feel the least hyped of all of the bands albums and the limited pre-release campaign feeds into that. It feels like messrs Kerr and Thatcher want to let the music do the talking on this record, and they are clearly talented enough to do so.

Whilst this may be a completely different album compared to any of their three previous efforts, Royal Blood have still created something distinctly Royal Blood. The band have seen their fair share of criticism in the past both somehow for failing to evolve and for changing too much! On ‘Back to the Water Below’, the band merge everything they’ve done before and evolve into something new.

So, while musically this record is a fantastic genesis of the their style, commercially it will be interesting to see if this is an album that can secure that illustrious fourth consecutive number one?

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Album Reviews

Hot Milk

A Call To The Void

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Hot Milk have been building, building, building since they stormed onto the scene in 2019. Building a solid fanbase, building a reputation as a top live act and building an incomparable back catalogue. Whilst those positive foundations were being built though, pressure and expectation built with them, specifically for a full debut album.

Well, the time has arrived for the band to show off their finished house to the word. Complete with aesthetically pleasing artwork, ‘A Call To The Void’ is ready for inspection and on first look it would appear that the band haven’t build any ordinary house, they’ve built a temple!

‘A Call To The Void’ is a call to arms, an invitation for that dedicated and passionate following to worship in their temple. From beginning to end the album is a galvanising expression of cathartic release from the band.


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Stripping all existential meanings from the songs, what this album represents is quite simply a really fun half hour of joyous pop punk. What the band do well is add a darker edge to the genre which removes much of the silliness that is often associated with it. That said whilst many might try and pigeonhole this as emo or the like, the reality is that the band defy true genre designated.

There are plenty of obvious influences spread throughout the album, but Hot Milk have an ability to go beyond them and create something which is uniquely Hot Milk. The band have captured imaginations with their output thus far and ‘A Call To The Void’ is now the centrepiece on the mantle in their temple.

It will of course be interesting to see where the band go from this point, but they progress having successfully navigated the pitfalls of a debut album. Given that the group don’t appear to be ones to rest on their laurels then you’d imagine the building work will continue and you’d surely put money on them creating something spectacular!

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Album Reviews

Holding Absence

The Noble Art of Self Destruction

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It has been quite a remarkable journey for Holding Absence, for example you probably won’t find many bands on their level this early in their career whilst technically featuring no original members. The band have come so far from their early beginnings though and to have the opportunity to marvel upon their evolution in recent years has been very special indeed.

Every challenge has been met head on, and the ability of the band to form such a strong, organic connection with their fans has been a pleasure to see. Hard work in the studio and out on the road has born beautiful fruit and 2021’s ‘The Greatest Mistake of My Life’ was a true masterpiece.

The band now find themselves in the unenviable position of trying to follow that release and they do so with third album, ‘The Noble Art of Self Destruction’, which is perhaps more than a subtle nod at the obstacles that they’ve overcome.

Holding Absence – ‘Her Wings’

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As mentioned already, the evolution and growth of the band has been special to witness but their sound in particular has developed so elegantly over the course of their career. On this new record they are sonically soaring above the clouds with a majestic aura connecting each track.

The ten songs here will suck you in and you’ll lose yourself to the honesty and richness of the lyrical content whilst be carried about by the gentle waves of the atmospheric soundtrack. It’s impossible to cherry pick highlights here as the album will simply take you on a journey that you’ll willingly follow.

Holding Absence are a band that appear to have found a magical formula for song writing because every time you think that they’ve peaked, they go ahead and surprise you all over again.

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Album Reviews

The View

Exorcism of Youth

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The career of The View has been really fascinating, full of ups and downs, hit singles and missed opportunities. Once tipped to be the next big thing, the band now find themselves pigeonholed into a noughties indie nostalgia scene.

There has always been a youthful volatility to the band that has both garnered positive sentiment and turned people off in equal measures. After a hiatus the band returned to a receptive fanbase who packed out shows and soaked up a look back at the glory days.

What is interesting here is that most bands would settle for their place in the pecking order and hit up that nostalgia circuit for as long as possible. Perhaps that’s what many would’ve expected The View to do, but instead here they are with a brand new studio album, which really is rather good!

The View – ‘Woman of the Year’

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Yes, that isn’t something we perhaps thought we’d be saying in 2023 but ‘Exorcism of Youth’ is undoubtedly the group’s best work since their debut album. With a more mature and explorative sound, a strong argument could even be made to say that the album is actually their very best.

There is plenty of what made the band popular on offer but rather than just copy their previous homework the band have put in the work and delivered something fresh. The likes of the fantastic ‘Shovel In His Hands’ and the superb ‘Woman of the Year’ standout but the album as a whole is full of melancholic indie anthems.

Fans of the band will very much enjoy this album and the band can be proud of proving all the naysayers wrong by pulling a rabbit out of the hat with ‘Exorcism of Youth’!

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The Full Pelt Music Podcast – Episode 34 – The View

Read our review of ‘Learning How to Live and Let Go’ from The Xcerts

Album Reviews

The Xcerts

Learning How to Live and Let Go

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It’s somehow been five years since The Xcerts released the sublime ‘Hold On to Your Heart’, and in the meantime a lot has happened both in the world itself and in the world of The Xcerts.

The band now return with a new album, on a new record label, and with a newly expanded musical ambition, which is perhaps best demonstrated on statement single, ‘GIMME’! Yes, ‘Learning How to Live and Let Go’, is the sound of a band testing themselves and pushing their boundaries, removing any pre-set assumptions about what is expected of them.

That said, the DNA that runs through the likes of ‘In the Cold Wind We Smile’ and ‘There Is Only You’ is very still inherent on what is perhaps the groups most well rounded record yet. The juxtaposition between the likes of ‘Ache’ and ‘My Friends Forever’ is so finely balanced because the band have taken the two ends of their sonic palette and stretched them are far as possible.

The Xcerts – ‘Ache’ ft. Sam Carter

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As a result you get a wide range of new colours but the identity of the artist remains the intrinsic link. In a day and age where artists are encouraged to play it safe and stick to the rulebook, The Xcerts have been brave enough to throw that book out the window and explore themselves.

The result is twelve thoroughly enjoyable tracks interwoven by the theme of acceptance and the road to it. This very much feels like the band also coming to terms with their place in the world, pressing reset and setting off on their next journey; and given the immense quality of the outcome, you can’t help but want to go on that journey with them!

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The Full Pelt Music Podcast – Episode 33 – The Xcerts

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