Spectres are hard to place. Their new album, Dying, can’t really be categorized as shoe-gaze, post-punk or noise rock and you’d need a Ouija board to even start interpreting the ghostly onomatopoeic lyrics (handily included in the album’s gatefold). They hail from a small town in north Devon, but they sound like they’re hurling abuse up at us from the seventh level of the inferno.
Listening to Dying may draw a few parallels to Sonic Youth and Swervedriver, but all these preconceptions were blasted aside by the sheer wall of sound confronting the audience at Gullivers on Saturday night. In a time where it’s hard to avoid parody or pastiche, Spectres walk a tight rope over a river of tar-like guitar sludge; this is music that continually skirts the edge of the precipice. Even for the sake of contrast, brief interludes of calmness are still teeth-clenched assaults on tranquillity and comfort. Spectres produce the kind of guitar ululations and aural dysphoria that would make Alistair Crowley feel at home. ‘Sea of Trees’ starts with a brief repetitive Slintesque riff, which combines with krautrock drums and picks up momentum before snowballing into a sea of white noise. Another highlight was ‘Family’ which, although talking about addiction, gives us a fleeting glimpse of beauty before zipping back into sonic bedlam.
The MBV all-out approach isn’t just for the sake of it though. Paradoxically, the experience isn’t without catharsis and you get a sense of the band trying to exorcise some daemons. They aren’t making noise for the sake of noise. The band’s DIY ethic is not unlike Hookworms’s, and their zine publishing, gig and club night promotion and old ex-label all serve to underline their altruistic side.
All comparisons aside, the most help we’re going to get in making sense of Spectres comes from their short Facebook description: “we are loud.”