Twisty, sinuous, dextrous and agile – all words you would associate with ace guitarist Matt Stevens, who’s solo work has delighted those of us in the know for a while now. Combine this with his colleagues Kev Feazey (bass and production), Steve Cleaton (guitar) and Stuart Marshall (drums) and the results is the catchy-as-hell and heavy-as-fuck sound of the The Fierce And The Dead.
One moment you are happily bouncing along to a light as a feather tinkly guitar jangle before being plunged into the dark labyrinthian dungeon of a Feazy-inspired bass riff that rumbles along like a fuzz-ball hammer-grinder about to pneumatically blast through the cellar walls ….. be careful not to play this too loud in the car, people in the vehicles alongside may well get incinerated and the low-seated planks blasting out their bass-heavy r&b will certainly get a shock as their bass ears and senses are blown off the street…..
This is a potent and raw mixture of heaviness, lightness and downright madness that works a treat and leaves a big grin on your face. Executed with rare skill, it is no mean feat to play speedy, instrumental music that hits you slap in the face like this and retains your attention over several tracks.
The pace is furious. The intensity face warping. There is no let up. No breathing space apart from a sparse intermission half way through.
Apparently, the theme of the album is “…..about cults, quantum physics and absent friends”. To be honest, I could read anything into this music, depending on what mood I am in. It would be a great soundtrack to some of my mountain hikes and running escapades and it would also be a great accompaniment to sawing a dead body up before putting it in the freezer of a dank rat-infested derelict warehouse……
‘Part 4’ opens the proceedings, and if you know your FATD, parts 2 and 3 are on their debut album and the following EP. I’m not sure whatever happened to Part 1, but let’s not worry about that. Here we get acquainted with the rib-busting drumming and fuzz-tastic bass sound that dominates the album as the two guitarists work their magic over the mayhem. I’m reminded for some bizarre reason of Wishbone Ash on acid after drinking several pints of cider – it’s the duelling twin guitars I think, but in this case played at warp speed with the backing of a skull-cracking steam-rolling rhythm section.
‘Ark’ has been doing the circuit for a few weeks now with an accompanying video and is just a typically ace track – sinuous, catchy, and clever and sums up everything about TFATD in a stonking 4 minutes.
My guess is that most of this didn’t take that long to record. It sounds almost live and has the feel of a band on form, capturing a moment and frantically getting the tracks laid down before the mood takes them elsewhere. ‘Let’s Start A Cult’ sounds like a one-take track and has energy, verve and spice that many other bands would give their right arm for.
Slightly different territory is explored with ‘I Like It, I’m Into It’ – here we get a varied pace and simpler, less frantic guitar sound which quite frankly ends up as a rollickingly brilliantly jam session with all four band members contributing to a wall of sound that rounds off the first half of the album in brilliant style.
Do we get a breather you ask?
Of sorts. We have an official ‘Intermission 3’ which gives us some thinking space with eerie sound effects and a slightly space-rock feel which further adds to the feeling we are in a scene from ‘Saw’. It’s good as well – I like the atmosphere of this space and it suits the flow of the album very well.
Don’t think you get long though because we then get some ‘Spooky Action’ which jolts us back to reality with a thumpingly simple riff that is soon expanded on by those superb guitars which introduce a light, charming jingle that will give you earworms for days.
It is this juxtaposition between light and dark that works so well on this album. ‘Entropy’ being as good an example as any. Starting with a delicate and subdued rolling bass pattern the track is built cleverly and not that obviously until we are suddenly in the middle of a maelstrom of epic proportions ending with classic post-rock soundscapes of feedback fading to the distance ….brilliant, and less than 3 minutes long !
This is a cracking post-punk-prog-acid-fusion-anyfucking-genre album that doesn’t just shift goalposts – it uproots them, sends them into space and puts them on another planet …..
Final word? Recommended.