Artist: The Fierce and the Dead
Title: On VHS [EP]
Release Date: March 26th
Written by Chris Hughes
The Fierce and the Dead (TFATD) grew out of sessions that were planned to make Matt Stevens (guitar) second solo album but, as things gelled and evolved with Kev Feazey (bass) and Stuart Marshall (drums), a new project was born. A couple of years later and with the addition of Steve Cleaton (keyboards, guitars, FX), TFATD give us their new EP, On VHS. The band say that they take an improvised approach to creating their songs basing them on loose structures and seeing how they develop and you get a sense of maturity and familiarity in their playing with this, their third release.
The EP kicks off with ‘666…6′ with its intricate winding guitar lines, a ballet of harmonies like a carousel ride interrupted with slabs of solid riffs, distorted sounds and adrenalin. The track takes you spinning around with blurs of colour creating dizzy sights and sounds to lose yourself in.
‘Hawaii’ could be classified as post-surf-rock. Ok, I’ll get my coat, but imagine if Dick Dale was in the Pixies with a Wurlitzer thrown in and you get the drift. With its Misirlou style tremolo picking breakdowns and counter melodies underpinned by a rock steady rhythm section, you feel like you’ve been caught in a wave and washed to shore.
The title-track has post punk inflections, delayed guitar’s mimicking electronic sounds on repeat and heavy reverb all evoking the 80s and the heyday of VHS. Slowly degrading and breaking down the melodic bass line that carries you through the angular disjointedness.
Things slow down with the mellow ‘Part 3′, mixing styles with a grunge-style bass line, slide guitar, fuzzed out guitar lines and break-beat drums which all play with the dynamics, drawing the listener along through elements that have gone before until it reaches an entropic crescendo and fades out.
While I was trying to write this review I was watching a video Lionel Messi’s goals after he broke the record number scored for Barcelona and I thought TFATD and how ‘On VHS’ would be perfect at sound tracking such a montage. The record reminds me of the sublime enjoyment I had while watching Messi; of watching someone excelling at their craft and showing what pleasure can be taken from something that looks so easy but takes so much skill. Conjuring something out of nothing and creating beauty out of improvised beginnings. I can’t wait to see what is next for TFATD and wait with anticipation of seeing them play these songs live and taking them on to a further place of joy.
* * *