Band: The Fierce and the Dead
Band Website: www.fierceandthedead.com
Label: Bad Elephant Music
Release Date: 2013
Itís funny how things work out. What started as an improvised recording experiment for guitarist Matt Stevenís second solo effort suddenly took on a life of its own and has brought forth the powerhouse outfit The Fierce and the Dead. The quartet is made up of Matt Stevens (guitars), Kevin Feazey (bass), Steve Cleaton (guitars) and Stuart Marshall (drums). Providing some sonic support is Terry Edwards (brass) and Sarah Gill (cello). Spooky Action is the bandís second full length studio CD and it follows up on their initial release and two shorter EPs. Labels such as Post-Rock and Math-Rock have been used to describe the music of The Fierce and The Dead but I just like to call edgy heavy prog.
Spooky Action is a swift 39-minute listen with eleven instrumental tracks virtually all of which are in the 2, 3, or 4 minute length. The musical direction is bold, brash and dramatic. Track one, ďPart 4Ē [3:34] starts off with a solo guitar line in arpeggio fashion setting a driving sense in motion before the whole band literally explodes into action building riff upon riff shifting the tunes emotional centre, first over hereÖand then over there. Itís quite breathtaking. Tune two, ďArkĒ [4:03] is less explosive but equally dynamic which in many ways sets the tone for all the music of Spooky Action; a counterpoint between softer or melodic and brash and crunchy. One of the things that sets this apart from much modern heavy crunching though is the instrumental virtuosity. There is more than your average amount of detailed playing going on and thatís what I like to hear. I love it when you make a big noise but I also like to hear the instruments actually playing and in the case of The Fierce and The Dead, boy can they play and play well. Each tune is structured with moments that allow for intricate guitar work to shine and itís usually propped up against a spectacular rhythm section of bass and drums. The drums go both ways; setting up a pounding foundation as well as throwing in a myriad of changing patterns, while the bass weaves in and out of the fray keeping things in motion. The starts and stops are incessant and yet the music forges headlong to climax after climax.
Donít expect any long epics this time around. The Fierce and The Dead instead have delivered a tough set of tunes that feature layer upon layer of texture and tone. The dramatic leap from soft to loud may remind some of Porcupine Tree but I dare say the music of Spooky Action stands nicely on its own. A great sophomore release that Iíd recommend to fans of hard-edged Progressive Rock.