Release Date: Feb 24, 2015
Record label: Sonic Cathedral
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
It doesn’t take much to decipher the themes Bristol’s Spectres are exploring on their debut album. The 10 songs on ‘Dying’ are as troubling as the disfigured face that adorns its sleeve. The guitar on 90-second opener ‘Drag’ is fed through effects that create the impression of an instrument ablaze, and the clanging noise beneath it sounds like the closing shutters of a crematorium furnace.
Some records tell you exactly what you need to know just by looking at the cover. The mind expansion of Loveless, the dazed and confused sun of Screamadelica, the dreadful reboot of Britpop on peace’s Happy People and so on. Before the needle hits, you can guess where this debut from Devon born, Bristol based band is going. The album title, the grimy black and white sleeve depicting what looks like a man about to drown...
Bristol quartet Spectres are much enamoured with foreboding sonic effects on an album that takes its nods from the likes of The Jesus & Mary Chain and Tad. The group are at their best when melding reverb-soaked, crunchy multiple guitar layers, playing with dynamics atop a kind of jungle-drum thump. Prime example is the expansive, yet somehow claustrophobic, This Purgatory.
Opening with a shudder of white noise and the confidence of the undefeated, Spectres start as they mean to go on. The album’s opening track, ‘Blood In The Cups’ is an uncompromising noise epic. Whispered cries drift over the swaying rhythm before a swift jolt gives this haunting introduction a sense of urgency and fear. It’s a feeling that doesn’t go away.
If prizes were awarded for perseverence in music, Spectres' name would be high on the shortlist. Having formed in the tranquil North Devon town of Barnstaple at the turn of the decade, their esoteric brand of incendiary noise rock couldn't get them a gig for love nor money, and when it did drew little more than puzzled stares from the locals. A two-hour journey up the M5 to Bristol several months later might not have brought an immediate change in fortunes, but it certainly gave them the impetus to continue challenging both themselves and their audience.
Head here to submit your own review of this album. It is an audacious move for Bristol-based group Spectres to title their debut album Dying. Together with the alarming cover artwork and some of the most intense guitar noise you'll hear this year, it is clear that Spectres are here to make an impression. Dying opens with the ominous 'Drag', ninety seconds of clattering noises and howling feedback, which sets up the fuzzy and relentless 'Where Flies Are' with some impossibly noisy guitars at the end.
Subtlety is not Spectres‘ strong suit. Their debut album is called Dying, the unsettling cover features the distorted face of a drowning man, and a quick glance at the tracklist reveals songs entitled This Purgatory and Blood In The Cups. Of course the idea of judging a book by its cover (or album for that matter) is not necessarily a sound policy, but in this case it’s legitimate.
The Barnstaple-born but firmly now Bristol-based Spectres have followed a satisfyingly old school career path to date; choosing to grow at a healthy organic pace through a string of collectible short-form releases (predominantly on the self-built Howling Owl label) and relentless gigging (with the likes of The Vacant Lots, Lorelle Meets The Obsolete and Perfect Pussy) before delivering a full-length album. Such cumulative creativity and camaraderie in the lengthy run up this debut studio LP – released on the increasingly reliable taste-making Sonic Cathedral label – has clearly been invaluable. Rather than having rushed to capture and over-stretch the first flushes of studio exploration with a premature first album, the much-awaited Dying logically extends upon the Spectres’ story so far whilst standing-up as a more mature and ambitious statement in its own right.