The Spectre Beneath – The New Identity of Sidney Stone
It’s always nice to discover a new UK metal band, especially when, as in this case, they incorporate a lot of elements that I look for. Based in the town of Runcorn, Cheshire, The Spectre Beneath play the sort of rock/metal that hits the right spot. The kind of stuff that has you throwing shapes around the living room, air guitar in a comfortable position, back arched, eyes tightly shut, mouth wide open – bear with me, this is a good thing – as you live every note, or is that just me?
On top of that, their new album is of the concept variety. “The New Identity of Sidney Stone” is both a set of stand-alone stories and the tale of Sidney Stone, a criminal betrayed, his death faked and then buried alive. It is a dramatic and grandiose affair that tells each story and element of the main tale in suitable style. It builds on the story telling of their 2019 debut album ‘The Downfall of Judith King’ and represents the darkness lurking inside us all.
We kick off with ‘Clockwork Heart’ and here we see the band come out fighting, with their heavier and thrashier side. We get an early introduction to vocalist L Lockser as she lets out a lingering scream. The variety and subtleties of her vocals begin to emerge more in ‘Voice in the Static’. Both of these opening tracks can be enjoyed on youtube:
The Spectre Beneath – Clockwork Heart (click here if the video does not play)
The Spectre Beneath – Voice in the Static (click here if the video does not play)
In early 2018 when guitarist Pete Worrall began writing new material for his former band, Plague and the Decay, little did he know how much the songs would alter his focus. The ideas were more melodic and more grandiose, and it did not take long for the songs to manifest themselves into a brand-new project and with that, The Spectre Beneath was born. Pete is also a novelist, and his books would appear to have similar stories to his musical ventures. You can get a feel for his literary works by visiting his website https://www.peteworrall.com/home
The story continues with ‘Broken’ which has some fine guitar and bass work from Pete and intricate drumming from Consta Taylor. Pete brought Consta on board when the new project started to take shape and he realised that the Plague and the Decay’s drummer had the flair, the skills and technique to play the music’s more complex elements.
The style, pace and mood change now for ‘Have you waited for the world to change?’. It opens with a news bulletin leading into a gentle guitar and bass backing that L Lockser pours her heart out over, in a powerful and emotional performance that intensifies and subsides as the music does. L joined the fold after Pete spent 18 months searching for a suitable vocalist. Her eclectic mix of influences meant she was a perfect fit for what Pete had in mind. With a rich, warm tone coupled with both power and subtlety in equal measure, L’s voice and unique phrasing add a depth and uniqueness to the band’s sound. According to Pete, “There aren’t many female vocalists in metal that sound like L”.
As the album and story progress, each track is distinctly different from the last. ‘Last Light in the House’ has verses delivered in a creeping jazz rhythm surrounded by more rocking solos and a melodic chorus. ‘The Premature Burial’ starts with a brooding guitar solo, then L’s anguished vocals escalate and subside, alternating until half-way through we hear a funeral taking place and a bell tolling in the background. The style of the track then changes to a laidback bluesy solo before rocking out for the last two minutes of its eight and a half.
By comparison ‘The Phone Call’ is a short track that starts with, you guessed it, a phone call and then continues with a mellow piano piece. To finish we have the gruesomely titled ‘The Exhumation’. The titles of a lot of the songs give a strong clue to the backbone of the story being told here, and in the last minute of the song and album, we are given a small insight into what’s going on. This possibly is the key to a sequel album because Pete obviously enjoys his story telling.
What we have here is a very enjoyable hour of multi-genre, multi-faceted, captivating progressive power metal. A modern metal epic that maintains the best aspects of each style and component. The power and prog influences shining above all others but the darkness of thrash and doom always lurking under the surface.
1. Clockwork Heart
2. Voice in the Static
4. Have you waited for the world to change?
5. 20 Shillings a Town
6. The Last Light in the House
7. The Criminal
8. The Funeral
9. The Premature Burial
10. The Phone Call
11. The Exhumation