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The Spectre Beneath – The New Identity of Sydney Stone

The Spectre Beneath
The New Identity of Sydney Stone
by Gary Hernandez at 31 July 2021, 4:23 PM

THE SPECTRE BENEATH is a Power/Prog Metal band out of Runcorn, UK. The brainchild of multi-instrumentalist, Pete Worrall (PLAGUE AND DECAY), the band had its genesis in early 2018. Next would come Consta Taylor (drums), also from PLAGUE AND DECAY, followed by L. Locker on vocals. Their debut album, “The Downfall of Judith King,” is driven as much by narrative as riffs and was released in 2019. On May 26, 2021, the band released their second full-length album, “The New Identity of Sidney Stone,” on WormHoleDeath records. Similar to the first, it is an immersive concept album.

The band has three signatures: First the guitar work of Pete Worrall is simply incredible. From riffs to solos from rhythm to lead all the way through bass, Worrall does it all and he does it well. As you would expect from a single performer across multiple instruments, there is an internal consistency which is hard to get with separate musicians. If there is a downside to a multi-instrumentalist, it might be fewer creative streams than you get from separate individuals with their own set of influences and inspirations. This, however, doesn’t seem to be an issue with Worrall.

The second signature, of course, is vocalist L. Lockser. As metalheads tend to be gamers and followers of all sorts of outsider cultural trends, I’ll mention that Lockser also did the vocals for the theme song of the game “MO: Ashtray.” In a genre marked by harsh vocals, Lockser’s clean and smooth vocals are refreshing and are much akin to Symphonic Metal sopranos, though without the operatic flourishes.

The third signature is the extended narrative. Both albums from THE SPECTRE BENEATH are concept- and story-driven. On one hand this provides an inroad to some deep immersion. Here listeners can lose themselves in a world that is new and dangerous. On the other hand, a significant portion of the lyrics feel forced and overdone. It’s as if someone wrote a lot of prose to tell a story but was reluctant to edit it down to fit the natural phrasing of a song. What we get is a novel when perhaps all we need is a short story. Compression and intensity tend to amplify more than verbosity. My view, at least.

It goes without saying, the album is better served as a full listen-through as opposed to parsed. Standout tracks are “Last Light in the House” with its build up from stripped down, bass line to searing lead and punchy riffs to sultry vocals and layered harmonies. More than other tracks, there is a nice metaphorical inference to the song which extends well beyond the storyline. “Voice in the Static” is also a strong track with an infectious riff that bores down into your brainstem. Last on my list is “Have You Waited for the World to Change?” With a long acoustic intro plus several interludes, it provides quiet space for us to hear the more subtle aspects of the band’s talents. The track also has several sustained peaks which showcase Lockser’s range and punch.

All together, “The New Identity of Sidney Stone” is an intriguing album which I recommend to any fan of Prog and modern metal. I also recommend their first album, btw. THE SPECTRE BENEATH weaves an fascinating universe, which begs to be explored and expanded. I'm curious to see what Worrall will do next with THE SPECTRE BENEATH—e.g. if the next installment will bring the current storylines into a unifying trilogy.

Songwriting: 6
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 6
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1.   Clockwork Heart
2.   Voice in the Static
3.   Broken
4.   Have You Ever 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
Lineup:
Pete Worrall – Guitars, piano, bass
L. Lockser – Vocals
Consta Taylor – Drums
Record Label: WormHoleDeath
     


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Edited 22 September 2021
 

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