Hello dear reader. How are you? It’s been a while, hasn’t it? It’s been a pretty shite and fucked up year by all accounts. If another rock giant bites the dust this side of Christmas, that’s me done. Enough of the pleasantries…..
Today is the day that I go outside of my little bubble (not the Covid type, but my musical bubble) and listen to metal. Proper metal. The metal that my little melodic rock ears are not tuned to. Well its a request you see, from a mate, and a bloody clever one at that. He’s an author with many books under his name, plays guitar, and everything else, sings, does IT and is nice to animals. And he’s a top bloke, which lets face it, does not conform to the typical Ozzy, Chris Holmes, Lemmy, (insert name here) badass metal stereotype. Theres always an exception to the rule. That exception is PAZ.
Anywho, last year, PAZ asked me to review their debut album ‘The Downfall of Judith King’. It was most excellent – review of that can be read here –https://needle-in-the-groove.com/2019/09/26/the-spectre-beneath-the-downfall-of-judith-king-album-review-2/
Twelve months on comes the sophomore album, ‘The New Identity Of Sidney Stone’. In these mental times Paz has brought back L Locker (v) and Consta Taylor (d). Lets face it, if you can’t write and record an album in 2020 , when what looks like 70% of the planet is working from home, you’ve got no chance. The time has been spent well.
‘Clockwork Great’ sees Paz and Taylor bringing all the fire and fury with fast and frenetic riffing and thunderous drumming, whilst Lockser cuts through the mayhem for great contrast. It’s how I want my metal served up, tasty, not grunty. ‘Voice In The Static’ still has its bludgeoning riff foundation, but it’s very melodic considering the aural assault of ‘Clockwork’ and has nice harmonies from Lockser. ‘Broken’ has its foot firmly on the gas. Paz’s guitar work is fast, heavy and oh so good. Again the contrast with Lockser works well and the layering of vocals on ‘Broken’ are great. ‘Have You Waited For The World To Change’ entrance is subdued for The Spectre Beneath, and is a distant cousin to Queensryche’s ‘Anybody Listening’. But, sure enough, like a Dio song, if something starts off quiet, you know there’s a bit of welly and menacing guitar just around the corner, and that’s what we have here. It’s part grunge/part Delain and ALL The Spectre Beneath.
’20 Shillings a Town’ song title sounds like it belongs on Lionel Bart’s Oliver! But its more akin to Powerslave than slaving in Mr Bumbles work house. (I surprise myself sometimes). Theres quite a lot to take in such is the n&dbmp (notes and drum beats per minute – or should that be second). Consta’s drumming is right at the fore and he is an absolute beast. It even includes clips from ‘Witchfinder General’ courtesy of one Vincent Price. ‘The Last Light In The House’ is a departure from anything preceding this. There’s a bit more breathing room and it is quite a contrast, with more of a sombre and plodding tone like 70s rock used to do when going off on tangents. It proves to be a welcome break from the barrage of metal, in a good way of course. ‘The Criminal’ is a raucousness of riffage, a bombardment of beats and desolation of Dean (guitar). ‘The Funeral’ takes me back to my early days of listening to Dream Theater and I’ll just leave it at that.
‘The Premature Burial’ is the monster of the album, epic in length (Stargazer length) and in quality (Scene Nine:Finally Free quality). The guitar playing is more to what I’m used to, in a classic rock shredding style kind of way, than most of the rest on the album, and its probably why it ticks all of the boxes for me. I like a bit of brutality like the next guy, but my safe house is bands like DT, Queensryche etc. Finally we get to ‘The Exhumation’ and the Ronseal style of playing comes to fore. Consta is playing the drums as if he has bionic limbs, Paz goes for the jugular with some mental guitar work, even I was exhausted at the end just listening to it, and in L Lockser, Paz has unearthed a gem.
In conclusion, I haven’t enjoyed this as much as the debut, but in comparison, its like me preferring ‘Heaven and Hell’ to ‘Mob Rules’. Both are cracking albums, and that is exactly the same here, but the debut edges it for me. Whilst on a similar subject……
I have one gripe with Paz and its not this album. The ‘best’ is ‘Holy Diver’. There. I said it.
The Spectre Beneath
L Lockser – vocals
Pete Worrall – guitar/bass
Consta Taylor – drums
Vini Assis – additional lead guitar
Martin Worrall – Piano/Keyboards
Katy Lennon – Additional Vocals
Martha Hall – Kate Walsh
Sidney Stone – Pete Worrall
Voice on the phone – Ray Moreton
Voice in the Static
Have you waited for the world to change?
20 Shillings a Town
The Last Light in the House
The New Identity of Sidney Stone:
The Premature Burial
The Phone Call