I am sort of late to the party that is ‘On VHS’ by The Fierce And The Dead, or at least late in writing about this instrumental gem. I have been unable to write about music recently, even when the music is as good as what TFATD are making.
I will write this now: Even in the EP format, meaning shorter (obvs!), this album is going to be on my Top XX list for 2012. It’s just that good!
Full disclosure: I am a huge fan of TFATD guitarist Matt Stevens, and have reviewed his solo stuff herein. I buy his music, I read his blog, I stalk, er I mean follow him on Facebook. His virtuosity on guitar is matched only by his kindness and humility. Like I said, I’m a fan.
The Fierce and the Dead is not just Mr. Stevens; No, the band members are accomplished musicians in their own right, and ‘On VHS’ sounds like a cohesive unit cranking out cracking songs together. Kev Feazy (bass) is also a producer and engineer, working with many music heavyweights ; Stuart Marshall (drums) cut his teeth in playing hardcore bands, and seems to be able to hold his own on any style; and the newest member, on 2nd guitar, is Steve Cleaton, adding additional ‘mass’ to the sonic goodness of the former 3-piece.
In the songs comprising ‘On VHS’, I hear so many varied influences and styles, that it’s not easy, nor necessary for that matter, to try and make any comparisons. I will say this, though, there is really nothing to dislike or criticize, in my mind anyway, on this EP. Except that it’s not longer and more songs!
The opening track, ‘6666’, starts out very RUSH-like, veers into and back out of Post Prog and Post Rock, contracts and releases, and leaves you coming back for more. I find myself listening to the specific basslines and drum portions now, as I’ve listened to the album so many times (and still enjoy it!). It’s akin to saying a word so many times that the meaning seems to change, morphing into something else altogether. I think maybe I am just strange though. Listen anyway!
Track 2, ‘Hawaii’ is definitely a great grandchild to the instrumental surf music of folks like Dick Dale, complete with a roiling, riffing, shredding chorus. I especially like, in this song, the bass line that comes thumping forth like shorebreak waves. At slightly over four minutes, this song is the shortest on the EP, but covers the gamut, including lazy, bendy lap guitars toward the last of the minute of the song.
The eponymous track 3 is considerably mellower, taking it down a notch or two, again showcasing the rhythm section’s chops, as well as the sort of jangly, almost looped-sounding guitar lines and background effects. On first listen, I don’t remember being as cognizant of all the layers being played, but it’s a definite feast for the ears. Get out the good headphones!
Finally, ‘Part 3’ wraps it up with a combination of brooding bass and those Island-style guitars, steel strings, and an earnestly pretty, melancholic guitar refrain. If Fugazi met Marillion in Hawaii and had mixed, umbrella drinks…See? There is nothing to compare!
Thanks to The Fierce And The Dead for this work of art, I am now a huge fan of the band and not just Matt Stevens. Thanks to my intrepid editor for not getting too upset with my lack of deadline adherence! Until next time, kiddiwinks, keep buying Independent!
Released March 26 2012 through Bandcamp
Posted by Jake Gillen