Recorded live at Hitchin’s Club 85 on Friday 8 October 2021.
Released on Thursday 30 June 2022.
On [Friday 8 October 2021] Spectral Darkwave descended upon Hitchin’s Club 85; their mission to unleash the kaleidoscopic horror of their brand new album At Outer Dark (2021) [their first new album in six years] upon their gathered disciples. On that special night the walls of reality were blown away and a glorious array of nightmares cascaded in – tales from beyond the stars and from the forgotten pages of history – all accompanied by a staggering barrage of superlative sonic fire power. Every moment of that ritual of magic, terror and mind warping ecstasy was captured and preserved for posterity. And now it is unveiled once more, under the banner of Live Fire Exorcise!Press release
I have been to many a live concert where the band, as amazing as they are – I’m looking at you Mastodon, Dream Theater, Soulfly – have done little more than stand on the stage and play their songs live with little interaction with the audience, without giving anything more of themselves. They haven’t grasped the opportunity to create an event, to create drama, to transport the audience into a special, sacred space that exists only here and now.
In contrast, there are many artists that I’ve seen live who have done this. For me, Celtic Frost did it most spectacularly on their “Monotheist Tour” in 2006. There was little crowd interaction, but they created a space in the emptiness and invited us in to explore the world through their music. Fish (ex-Marillion) does it with every gig – heck! those gigs always feel like you’ve been invited to the best family party you’ve ever been to. And if you watch videos of early Genesis concerts, or Devin Townsend gigs, they do it magnificently. Well, thankfully there is something wonderfully dramatic about this live album from Spectral Darkwave. And they have done it with such aplomb that it even draws us listeners in who were not there in person.
Musically, this is heavy, progressive symphonic death/doom metal. It does feel like a Devin Townsend ‘Ziltoid’ concert that has somehow been assimilated into a Peter Gabriel-era Genesis gig. It has immediatley become one of my favourite live albums. It’s certainly not background music, that’s for sure. This album demands attention.
“Insertion 731” (track 1) The album starts, really as any live track should, with the excited scream of an audience member. The subsequent track really does have quite a Celtic Frost / Triptykon vibe to it. This is going to be a good trip.
The introduction to “The March of Sses” (track 2) has to be among the best intros to any live song: “Let’s play some horrible doom … with elephants in!” And he’s not lying. While other musicians might be happy to rely on Digitech Whammy pedals to create horn-like screeching, Spectral Darkwave use elephant trumpets.
“So, it is time for the doomiest of dooms, settle into these long notes motherfuckers. This is ‘The first church of chaos’.” (track 3). And sure enough, the song is a ponderous, doom-laden track that’s… well, heavier than anything Genesis put out and certainly more triumphant.
“This is a song about the pain caused… by a dying star. This is ‘The last red hypergiant’ (track 4)”. There an enormity and epicly symphonic feel to this song. Indeed, to the whole album. How can this be played by just a band of four?!
“A toll is due” (track 5) is one of the most simply introduced songs on the album, but also probably my favourite. It kicks off with a stuttering and heavy riff, beneath which is a busy and delicate guitar riff. When I went out for a walk earlier, I found myself singing the main riff to this song – that’s got to be a winner.
“Voyage of the necronaut” (track 6) builds from a whisper and galloping riff to a galactic-conquering triumphant verse that pushes and explores before returning again and again to its major theme.
Finally, the title track from their debut album, “At outer dark” (track 7). What a riff! What a song! Spectral Darkwave really are challenging Candlemass as my favourite doom metal band. I absolutely need to check out their back catalogue.
It’s not just the music that makes this album for me, it’s also the audience participation. On a few of the tracks you can easily hear the crowd singing along, completely invested in this symphonic spectacle. I’m often a bit cynical about the hyperbolic claims made in the promotional blurb that accompanies releases. Things like, “The sheer excitement from both band and fans was palpable in Club 85, Spectral Darkwave’s hometown venue, as this new chapter of exploration and destruction was launched.” But on this occasion, I 100% believe it.
I’ve got into a few bands that I’d never heard of, solely on the back of their live performances – Amplifier, Clutch, Bigelf. I think this is probably the first band that has grabbed my full attention from a live record. One to keep an eye on, for sure. This is brilliant.
Review score: 100%
This is the album version of the opening track on this live LP, “731”.
Imperative PR contacted me inviting me to preview Spectral Darkwave’s forthcoming album, which I was delighted about.
I have no connections to either Imperative PR or Spectral Darkwave. I’m not being paid to review this. But I did get a free digital copy of the album to review which is pretty cool.
Many thanks to Imperative PR, and to Spectral Darkwave for continuing to create fresh, exciting new music.