Spectral Darkwave – Live Fire Exorcise
Release Date: 30.06.22
Running Time: 40:21
Review by Dark Juan
Good morning. Which is not normally a phrase uttered in Dark Juan Terrace, considering I am a creature of the night, normally to be found prowling ruins and pouncing upon young, attractive courting couples therein! (Said young couples then go unaccountably missing after I have encountered them and are reported thus, and afterwards when I awake I find gore on the bedsheets and yet another pair of shoes fucking ruined, yet I have no memory of injuring myself. Then I look in the mirror and see the blood around my jaws and the gore between my teeth and I wonder just what the hell I have done this time. Yet again I tell my reflection to lay off the drugs and the absinthe but equally I know I won’t and it will all happen again and I will be left wondering about just what is in those garden bags in the boot of the Schwerer Gothikpanzer…)
Don’t go wandering around the ruined village in Dorothea Quarry in Talysarn or the mansion at Baron Hill near Beaumaris in the near future. I don’t know what you might find there. All I do know is that it wasn’t me, OK?
Speaking of Beaumaris, the town council there made me giggle. Remember Hot Fuzz with Simon Pegg playing the copper? The village (Sandford) in that most excellent film had a very… enthusiastic Town Council whose motto was “Bonum Commune Communitatis”, meaning “For the greater good”. Beaumaris Town Council don’t like dogs very much considering they have banned them from almost fucking everywhere that a dog might find interesting and the town (Ville de Beaumaris, apparently, according to their coat of arms. Apparently some French people were there for a while and the good burghers of Beaumaris took it to heart to a rather extraordinary degree. It was a bit of a jolt seeing a Welsh town naming itself in French and no mistake) has a motto which is “Si Commune Communitatis”. All we need is Sergeant Angel screaming round it in a Scooby police car chasing a madly moustache-twirling Timothy Dalton and you’d have the Welsh version of Sandford right there.
None of which has ANYTHING to do with this live recording of Spectral Darkwave at Hitchin’s Club 85, performing their last studio release (“At Outer Dark”) in its entirety.
First of all, can we all just agree that “Live Fire Exorcise” is a fucking brilliant name for a live album and that if you don’t think it is, you’re totally wrong and I want nothing more to do with you, because you are an uncultured philistine who wouldn’t know greatness if it announced it an inch away from your left ear with a megaphone, and then kicked you up your flabby arse? Thank you.
Oh, and by the way, your mother wears combat boots, you bald shite.
Opening up with ‘Insertion/ 731’ and a computerised voice telling us we are going to kick the ever-living shit out of some poor civilization, which is also a very inventive and neat and tidy way of introducing the names of the band. Spectral Darkwave crash into a style of music I never knew I needed to hear – this being an hallucinatory intermix of sluggish, ponderous Doom, Death Metal vocals, Proggy chops, Symphonic swoopiness and Victorian, Steampunk Industrial underpinned by an infernal daemon-engine of Spectral Darkwave’s own creation, known only as The Slavedriver. Gothic Industrial keyboards ram headlong into lead lined guitars, and there are spasmodic jerkings of computer speak, and art and storytelling meld together in an intoxicating and fresh amalgamation that is perilously close to what passes for heaven in the twisted black recesses of the mind of Dark Juan. Vocalist and guitarist The Arch-Kakoph (I fucking LOVE stage names and silliness) sounds like he could have done with a bit more of a vocal warm up in the first couple of minutes of the song but his foundation-shattering roar soon settles down nicely.
The second song is ‘The March Of Sses’ and it is a paean to war elephants. I don’t need to say any more. War elephants are fucking cool armoured behemoths of battle and any song written about them is automatically brilliant. Bass player The Gunner (again, silliness. I love it) provides a mighty bottom end not unlike the heavily reinforced, pressurised keel of a Steampunk starship grinding across the terrain of an alien world. This is a Very Good Thing. And the band have managed to shoehorn the trumpeting of an elephant into it as well. Top marks for ingenuity, there, gentlemen.
‘The First Church Of Chaos’ showcases Doom Metal that’s thicker than molasses, combined with Symphonic undertones of church organ, and it’s a mighty compelling beast indeed. During the middle part of the song, it turns into a sputtering, steam-belching war machine staggering across a blasted wasteland, until The Engineer (drums – but never let facts get in the way of a good story) replaces dodgy valves and repressurises cracked leather pipes feeding superheated steam to greased mechanical pistons, before returning to smooth performance and rejoining battle and the massacre of those that don’t follow the worship of great Cthulhu.
And on it goes – Steampunk meets far future sci-fi and it all conjures up images of the leather overalled, oil soaked crew of the Starship Darkwave forging ever further into the cosmos in search of their god, being battered by barely understood cosmic radiation, defending themselves or attacking with weapons that spark with static electricity from Tesla coils or fire cobalt red and blue lasers from hand laid mirror projectors, as brass fittings steam and smoke and glow red hot in the furnace room, where blocks of supercooled hydrogen are burned as fuel, all the gauges heavily in the red while the death of a hypergiant star occurs right in front of them…
It is a well-known fact that I am not much of a fan of live albums, mainly because they normally sound like an absolute bag of dog’s arseholes. “Live Fire Exorcise” is the exception that proves the rule. The band are tighter than an entire swarm of gnat’s chuffs, and this is to their considerable credit, considering the complexity of their music. It could all so easily turn into a wriggling morass of Steampunk Sludge, but admorable musicianship is brought to bear, and the live sound man and producer of this album are also to be mightily commended, and have medals pinned on them, as everything is clear as day. A muddy or inept production would have utterly ruined this record beyond redemption. The Engineer even has a snare drum that sounds like a snare drum and not like fucking Tupperware being winged off the twentieth floor of a block of flats!
It’s pretty safe to say Dark Juan is a bit of a fan, now. When Steampunk aesthetics meet Heavy fucking Metal, you’re guaranteed to be on to a winner. Although Spectral Darkwave might want to consult a lawyer considering one Papa Emeritus IV, esquire has currently dressed up his Nameless Ghouls in a style that could be considered Satanic Steampunk…
The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System is entranced by Spectral Darkwave and thanks them for a live recording of no small brilliance! 9/10 for giving me the mental concept of a Steampunk spaceship. I have ideas to explore, so fare thee well!
01. Insertion/ 731
02. The March Of Sses
03. The last Church Of Chaos
04. The Last Red Hypergiant
05. A Toll Is Due
06. Voyage Of The Necronaut
07. At Outer Dark
The Arch-Kakoph – Vocals and guitars
The Gunner – Bass
The Engineer – Drums
The Slavedriver – Daemon-engine machinery (I know the band’s real names and trust me they are a lot less fun!)
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