"Crawler," the word, implies something creepy and sinister -- low, slimy creatures scuttling in the darkness with black eyes that despise the light.

Crawler, the group, isn't nearly so insidious. Unfortunately, they are very nearly nothing at all. Their first set at the Cellar Door last night (they will also appear tonight), an innocuous blend of blues-based rock and heavy metal, was strongly reminiscent of mid-'60s English bands such as the Spencer Davis Group and Deep Purple. Screaming guitar lines, a la Clapton, combined with thick, Winwoodesque keyboards left one with an impression that the group was caught in a time warp.

Each of the musicians was a capable instrumentalist, and many of their songs, particularly the lyrical "Muddy Waters" and the raucous "Where is the Money" were adequate rock numbers. What was lacking, however, was a sense of freshness and originality, two characteristics of the early English groups that Crawler has not managed to recreate.

Appearing with Crawler was Rich Hall, a comedian who has opened many rock shows in Washington this year. He is a zany performer, and last night, he demonstrated an ability for comic ad libbing that turned a small relaxed adult crowd into a group of giggling teens.