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Creeping Death and the Colorado Springs Philharmonic round out an eclectic week of music 

click to enlarge Creeping Death will bring their death metal-hardcore-thrash mashup to the Black Sheep Jan. 22. - RAHUL RAVEENDRAN
  • Rahul Raveendran
  • Creeping Death will bring their death metal-hardcore-thrash mashup to the Black Sheep Jan. 22.

One perennial source of joy in live music is the opportunity it provides to catch a band on the rise; that is certainly true of Texas-based death metal outfit Creeping Death. The quartet formed in 2015 and has steadily gained acclaim for their compelling fusion of classic death metal, hardcore and thrash — not to mention their sly lyrical references to the online fantasy role-playing game RuneScape, which have probably never sounded quite so brutal. This Wednesday, Jan. 22, Creeping Death will take the Black Sheep stage, joined by Sanguisugabogg, Mouth for War, Inoculated Life and C-FOAM.

Following two EPs, Creeping Death released their debut full-length LP Wretched Illusions in September 2019. The album is unrelenting in both its ferocity and listenability; I found tracks such as “Bloodlust Contamination” and the doomier “Corroded from Within” akin to very pleasant jackhammers to the face. After such an impressive entrance, the band’s star is quickly rising, and they’ll share stages with such luminaries as Swans, Daughters and Zola Jesus at Austin’s Oblivion Access Festival later this year. It should go without saying, therefore, that Creeping Death’s stop at The Black Sheep is an excellent opportunity to catch an up-and-comer that will likely be a heavyweight before too long.

(I’d also be remiss if I didn’t draw attention to Ohioans Sanguisugabogg and their 2019 EP Pornographic Seizures, which is also a blistering, perverse listen and sure to appeal to all the sickos out there. Bravo!)

And, hey, even if you’re not an avowed metalhead, we’re living in a new decade where pop-performance artist Poppy can gleefully pivot to metal, so what better time to broaden your listening horizons?

Elsewhere, for something entirely different, the Colorado Springs Philharmonic and soprano vocalist Janice Chandler-Eteme will offer listeners a chance to get their fix of some truly transcendent symphonic music with two performances of Four Last Songs at the Pikes Peak Center the weekend of Jan. 25-26. The program showcases works by three standout German composers of the Romantic period, Carl Maria von Weber, Richard Wagner and Richard Strauss.
Weber was one of the earliest exemplary composers beneath the broad umbrella of musical Romanticism, and one of the progenitors of Romantic opera, which placed heightened importance on the orchestra (not least of all in the development of the thematic leitmotif, a technique largely pioneered by Weber himself). Weber’s orchestration techniques were often imitated by subsequent composers, and he was one of the first composers to experiment with non-Western music, implementing a Chinese melody in his incidental music for the play Turandot. The philharmonic will perform the overture to Weber’s opera Oberon, which is one of the most immediately engaging entry points into his work.

If Romantic art music had a single focal point, meanwhile, that point would have to be Wagner, a dramatic and adventurous composer of such outsized influence that one could fairly categorize Western harmonic process into “pre- and post-Wagnerian.” Of course, given that Wagner was a central figure in the movement of German nationalism and his works were thoroughly appropriated during the early 20th century, well ... spoiler alert: There are some, uh, “problematic” aspects to his legacy. That said, the overture to his opera Tristan und Isolde, which the Philharmonic will perform, along with the climactic “Liebestod” movement, is a sublime work that almost single-handedly redefined Western musical tonality with its innovative uses of dissonance and orchestral color.

Finally, the Philharmonic’s program takes its title from Richard Strauss’ final completed works, Four Last Songs from 1948, written for soprano voice and orchestra. Strauss, in contrast to Weber, was one of the later figures of the Romantic period, a composer whose works bordered on Modernism and who is often considered to be the successor to Wagner’s musical imagination. Along with the beautiful Four Last Songs, the Philharmonic will also perform Strauss’ playful and virtuosic tone poem “Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks,” a musical characterization of a sardonic peasant folk hero and his string of misadventures.

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