Image of Spectres - Dead
Record Label
Sonic Cathedral

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Spectres release a new album, ‘Dead’, on March 25. That’s Good Friday, and it will see the songs from the Bristol band’s hugely acclaimed debut ‘Dying’ nailed to the cross by Mogwai, Factory Floor, Hookworms, Richard Fearless (Death In Vegas), Andy Bell (Ride), Robert Hampson (Loop) and many more.

The only instruction was “kill our songs”, and so here are the remains, served up on two mortuary slabs of vinyl (and CD) as a stunning, 13-track album that builds on the original’s feeling of claustrophobia and dread, but recasts it across everything from brutal techno (Blood Music’s ‘This Purgatory’) to New Order-meets-Animal Collective euphoria (Andy Bell’s ‘Sea Of Trees’). It’s an occasionally punishing, but always rewarding listen that begins somewhere in the depths of a K-hole, courtesy of Vision Fortune’s ‘Drag’, and ends somewhere rather beautiful, with the celestial synths of Mogwai’s ‘This Purgatory’. (It’s worth noting that Mogwai’s classic ‘Kicking A Dead Pig’ was a big inspiration here.)

“We see Spectres as something that can work in a variety of contexts,” says frontman Joe Hatt, as he explains the motivation behind ‘Dead’. “Our musical interests spread out in different angles and we are always thinking of ways for what we do to evolve and mutate. We put together a list of artists who we admired, and thought would deliver a varied and eclectic mix. Some were close friends who are conveniently making some of the best music around, and others were pipe dreams that we thought would never happen. It was both nerve-wracking and fun waiting for each of the artists’ versions to arrive in our inbox, and some definitely surprised us; but none disappointed.”

‘Dead’ serves as an important reminder of what a special band Spectres are, something that can be easy to forget with their anti-industry stance and extra-curricular activities often grabbing the headlines more than their music (“We’ve always been like this, and we won’t cease,” threatens Hatt). In 2015 they ruffled feathers with their Record Store Day Is Dying campaign; their unofficial alternative James Bond theme ‘Spectre’ was erroneously reviewed by the Evening Standard and then some leaked and, it turned out, fake emails managed to upset both the BBC and Sam Smith; they made a video in which they murdered Nick Grimshaw, Reggie Yates, Scott Mills and Fearne Cotton after a Radio 1 Live Lounge appearance went awry; and they ended the year with a massively disrespectful cover version of Paul McCartney’s ‘Wonderful Christmastime’ that had all the good cheer mechanically removed. 


Barry says: 'Dying' was a perfect pummelling of sonics, unexpectedly brash and brilliantly dark. If anything, this album of reworkings (allegedly handed over to the remixer with the proviso that they 'Kill' their songs) is even moreso. 'Kill' might not be the right word, but they have most certainly stretched, distorted and injected each outing with a dynamic not displayed in the original. Industrial echoes and hammers, cavernous drums. Swashes of distortion swoop and wash over the listener. Barely is there time to breathe between these aural assaults, and when the Stuart Braithwaite remix comes at the end, it feels like you've survived a black storm, and come out of the end all the better for it. Stunning stuff.

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