When I started The Fierce & The Dead‘s new EP On VHS I wasn’t sure what to expect. For some reason I had this aural image of a doom metal sound attacking me. Instead I got this stunningly talented quartet that blew my mind! Like nothing & everything I’ve ever heard…These guys rock so hard I’m a little sad there are only four songs on this EP.
Since I was expecting some heavy death metal I had my speakers turned down…after all I have little kids & don’t want to scare them. Rather, 666…6 quietly tapped me on my shoulder with a soft repeat of notes that could come from any symphony hall in the world. It was so beautiful & then my breath was taken away by the startling entrance of a heavy electric guitar riff. The progression is all the more interesting for its free form. The bass line thrums out in front for awhile & then the signature guitar line takes over. This is hard charging rock with an electronica twist. I’m not quite sure how the guys found the end of this song because it feels like one that could go on (and maybe should) forever. It echoes out into infinity at the final string pluck.
Tossing all hope for an “easy” listen I embraced the psychedelic prog sounds of Hawaii. This is what riding the waves of the Pacific Ocean while tripping on a mind altering substance would feel like. (Think Magnum, PI on acid.) Awash in classic surf music styling this song builds into a dissonant wave that threatens to overwhelm your sanity. Just when I was beginning to wonder how I could handle it there’s this break where the bass plays a soft groove & the guitar reverbs with lush, verdant notes.
The title track, On VHS, combines the familiar with the peculiar in a wholly consuming fashion. Matt Stevens‘ guitar lulls me into a trance that’s meditative. The single line of guitar morphs into two intertwining progressions with bass & drums rounding out the sound. The shifts in tempo & style are mesmerizing. From dreamlike beginning to frantic middle and silent end this song drifts through interesting soundscapes.
Finishing off this most remarkable collection of songs is Part 3. Starting with a gentle bass that teases the guitar to life, this song is nothing short of spectacular. Hints of blues, jazz & surf rock meld into a graceful swirl. I’m hooked on the climbing progression that rises like smoke; the rock feeling grows then recedes only to build bigger. About halfway through TAFTD flips the switch & there’s a great electric crescendo. From here what was gentle & soothing becomes a mighty wave of progressive rock. Growing noisy & filled with reverb the notes are still sharp & pointed. It’s chaos barely controlled & I can only imagine how incredible this song would be live.
Indeed after listening to this EP for more than a month I still don’t have a handle on all the hidden gems in these four songs. The Fierce & The Dead is what’s right with music today & I look forward to hearing much more from these talented guys.
The Fierce & The Dead are: Matt Stevens, guitar; Kev Feazey, bass; Stuart Marshall, drums & Steve Cleaton, guitar, keyboards & fx.