Sometimes, a band comes along, takes a well-known formula, and twists it just enough to create something new and unique that nobody else has thought of. Melbourne, Australia’s Spectral Fires is one such band. They’re back with their third release, Turn Towards the Sun, continuing to develop their own blend of hardcore and melodic punk. This four-song EP is a fun, hook-laden ride that will leave listeners keen for more.
Right away, opening track “Before You Leave” brings in a nifty filtered guitar riff to warm up listeners before plunging into the driving melody. You get a taste of Jack Jeffree’s unique vocal stylings right away, as he leads off with harsh vocals. Unlike many modern pop-punk or melodic punk bands, there’s no high-pitched screams or rasping here. Jeffree’s harsh vocals are more akin to a hardcore shout, rhythmic and deep. It’s different from what many new fans might be used to, but it’s powerful and works great here, and his transition to a low baritone in the verse is remarkably smooth.
The next song, “Just a Mirage” is also Turn Toward the Sun’s lead single. The lyrics on this track are particularly strong and relatable for a lot of listeners (yours truly included), with a heavy dose of nostalgia. Although the guitar riffs and leads are almost poppy, the heavy tone and hardcore vocals gives this track lots of power. It’s upbeat and brash, sort of pop-punk with a punch-someone vibe. In other worse, this might just be the perfect mosh pit song. Just, maybe, don’t actually punch anyone.
Third track “Starting Over” might just be my favorite on this record. It’s darker and moodier than the last two tracks, mixing softer, melodic lines with the harshest choruses on the EP. There’s a lot happening here, with multiple layers of vocals and guitar melodies weaving through the heavy riffs, but the ace production by Jay Maas (whose work you may be familiar with thanks to Defeater and Title Fight) keeps everything in balance. There’s a strong presence from the bass and drums to anchor the riffs, with enough room for the vocals and guitars to keep those shining through. It’s crisp and clear without drifting into being overprocessed.
The last track, “Transparency”, kicks off with a gorgeous, slow, intro with a rich, semi-bluesey lead guitar. The guitars are great on the whole album, but they’re particularly expressive here with the riffage pulled out of the way a bit. When the vocals kick in at a full scream, it’s a jarring contrast from the softer music -sort of the musical equivalent of an abrupt shove. It didn’t work for me, but the track does smooth out as the underpinning riff gets heavier, shifting to a downtempo, almost sludgy banger accented with softer melodic sections. The bridge is great, bringing back the opening leads and balancing them with the reflective chorus. It’s not my favorite opening ever, but the rest of this song is still pretty awesome.
Spectral Fires have made something really special with this short-but-sweet EP. Turn Toward the Sun drops December 7 – you can find it at Artist First here. If you’re a fan of bands like A Day To Remember, Defender, or Silverstein, this is a record you’ll want to check out.