The Fierce And The Dead - Spooky Action
A man who deserves some return for his ceaseless hard work battling against the never ending onrushing tsunami of bands in this age of instant communication, Matt is no mean guitarist as his solo work attests.
That solo work is built around looping an acoustic guitar, and to be honest, it has have never grabbed me, what I need to hear is the impolite math-prog-beast that is his band, The Fierce And The Dead.
Spooky Action is the band's 2nd full length album, and there have also been three EPs, commencing with the debut, the sensibly titled Part 1 in January 2010.
A compact and tightly knit four piece, the band pummel the listener with unrelenting and intense heavy math-rock, the instruments locked together like the strands that make up a sturdy rope, one that cannot be unravelled. Like that rope the sum is greater than the parts, although each player demonstrates intuitive understanding of their instrument.
Beginning with the archly named Part 4, the pattern is set with math-guitar patterns leading to insistent loud chord sequences. This album has the feel of being meticulously planned as if plotted on a graph, while at the same time pulling off the admirable feat of being a loosely visceral slab of post-everything rock'n'roll. This is achieved to its best effect on Let's Start A Cult, a heady three and half minutes of formulaic perfection.
Prior to the album, Ark was floated as the lead off video, and it neatly sums up the math-prog-riffage on offer.
Brutal bass pounds out the intro to I Like It, I'm Into It as if its life depends on it. The tune crushes in the manner of a coming together of 80s Crimson and early Black Sabbath before the drugs stopped working, before changing tack to become briefly more restrained, ending in an ascending righteous guitar figure.
Parked logically in the middle of the album is the eerie ambience of Intermission 3, allowing the listener to draw breath for a while. However, the album is not all about hammering it to the ground; And The Bandit goes for a more laid back groove, coming over like a math-metal Wire in the process.
The Frippian interlocking cyclical guitar figure of Part 5 is wrapped round what sounds like a bass saxophone parping off the beat, albeit probably synthesised, and this leads into the final track Chief, a more melodic piece than what has gone before, although it doesn't take long before more angular math-riffs gatecrash the party.
The melody returns, but is bludgeoned to the floor by more pile driving riffage and dissonance, and if I have one criticism of this album it is that the sonics do become a bit wearying on the old lugholes after a while, purely because of the dominance of the harsh, nay Fierce (!) choppy riffing. A bit more variety in the way of more melody would not go amiss. I'll bet they're bloody loud live, too, but that ain't a criticism!
1. Part 4 (3:32)
2. Ark (4:03)
3. Let's Start A Cult (3:35)
4. Pyramid Hat (3:10)
5. I Like It, I'm Into It (4:06)
6. Intermission 3 (2:39)
7. Spooky Action (3:16)
8. And The Bandit (4:42)
9. Entropy (2:56)
10. Part 5 (1:50)
11. Chief (6:03)
Matt Stevens - Guitar
Stewart Marshall - Drums
Kev Feazey - Bass guitar
Steve Cleaton - Guitar
Get Spooky Action and all the earlier releases at Bandcamp