It feels as if there’s way more Fierce and Dead music around than their discography would suggest. This is only the third studio album by the critically acclaimed and very hard working The Fierce And The Dead.
The Fierce And The Dead is a band, and, were it made from seaside rock, would have “Riff” written right through it; Riffs played with absolute conviction. I banged on about this when I reviewed their Magnet EP back in 2015 and it is still the case – but it is an important property upon which to dwell.
I know what it is to be in a Riffing band. Riffing is a joyous thing. One can get lost in a riff when jamming together. The music sweeps one away like waves in an ocean of jam, the number of bars played is lost in time like grains of sugar in the sticky sea. Knowing looks are exchanged, grins and grimaces are displayed, and the moment lasts forever. Every band member wants to just keep surfing the waves they make until they collapse and sink into the sticky-sweet metaphor jam. And it is biblically good. But you can’t do that on an album without risking accusations of self-indulgence, perhaps even risking the loss of an audience – and you can’t do it live unless you are the Grateful Dead and your audience is full of mood enhancing/deadening substances. Grateful they may be, but they are The Fierce And The Dead. This makes them fiercer than they are grateful. Or something.
Unless you count the spoken word by label Bad Elephant Music’s very own Go-To Spoken Word Practitioner, recording artist and Tinyfish/Shineback alumni, Robert Ramsay, The Fierce And The Dead are still resolutely instrumental. There are, therefore, no conventional lyrics for us to consider. There is only the mood and the vibration and the purity of the noises made by the band members.
And so, what have we here?
Keyboards and melodies and twin harmonised guitars?! Critically acclaimed they may be, but whilst the promotional videos for Truck and 1991 might suggest that they’re sticking to the formula – if you’re not paying too much attention – this belies the fact that they have not rested on their laurels with The Euphoric. The Fierce And The Dead appear to have taken an acute look at their own music and asked how they can take the bits that make them what they are and add them to new sounds to make their new long player. For a heavily guitar-centric band, nobody, I should think, would expect the keyboard-laden title track with its disturbing undulating undertones. Yes, this means that there are a few surprises to be had, not least in the fifth track, Dug Town (my favourite) which starts with Frippesque guitar feedback and solid drums then opens into a melodic and moody piece. It is the most multi-faceted and almost entirely un-fierce song, though still quite fierce enough, if somewhat – undead.
It isn’t all change. In between the spaces, underpinning the slightly psychedelic interludes and occasional forays into the world of odd time signatures, The Fierce And The Dead still lay the foundations with fuzzy growly bass and chuggy-chuggy guitars (that is a technical term) because that is what we want, that is what they are and The Fierce And The Dead continue to not disappoint, delivering this by the bucket load.
The riff may be all, but, as I have explained, there can be too much of a good riff. One must know when there’s just enough and this must be arranged and moulded into a song. A great trick – if you can master it! I think that, and their astonishing live performances, is what The Fierce And The Dead do so well and it is at the root of their popularity and success.
[You can read Roger Trenwith’s interview with Matt Stevens and Kev Feazey from The Fierce And The Dead HERE.]
01. Truck (4:05)
02. 1991 (3:55)
03. The Euphoric (3:55)
04. Dancing Robots (3:59)
05. Dug Town (4:02)
06. Cadet Opal (1:43)
07. Verbose (6:07)
08. 48k (2:41)
09. Part 7 and 8 (6:47)
Total Time – 37:14
Kevin Feazey – Bass, Keyboards, Production
Matt Stevens – Guitars, Loops, Keyboards
Steve Cleaton – Guitars, Effects
Stuart Marshall – Drums
Robert Ramsey – Spoken Word
Record Label: Bad Elephant Music
Catalogue Number: BEM058
Country of Origin: U.K.
Date of Release: 18th May 2018