Sunday, 19 July 2015

The Fierce And The Dead - Magnet EP

The armour-plated muscle-ripped superhero NoisyProgBastard crashes though the door of the sleazy North London music venue, and announces its collective presence. "I'm a cult, gotta get out of it, out of it" the riff seems to be hammering into our skulls as the bulging beast transforms before us into a tightly wound rock quartet of serious intent. Thrashing his guitar around like a mountain bear on cheap speed, Matt Stevens, whom it is rumoured comes from a place where they practice the Olde Religion, is a man possessed, and his musical cohorts are right there in the melee with him.

Opening track Magnet In Your Face is just that; any closer and you'd be swapping eyeballs and iron filings. At only one minute and forty one seconds long, it has the effect of a rabbit punch to the solar plexus. Based on a fantastically taut riff in the manner of Five Horse Johnson, Matt and fellow plank destroyer Steve Cleaton push their instruments to the limits of endurance in a fashion that will rock your socks off, oh yes! Yep, they got my attention...

“I think this EP represents a different sound for us, it’s important to keep moving forward. It is more joyous and intense with bigger riffs and more of an electronic feel" says Matt in the PR blurb, who is described therein as a "Dead guitarist". On this evidence I'd describe this genial giant of a man as more of a Fierce guitarist.

The EP features the band's first new material in two years, and after that riotous opener it hints at a more measured and electronic sound than was found on their last album, Spooky Action . You could say this is a progression if you like playing around with the preconceptions that that contentious word in all its forms and abbreviations carries before it. However, "prog" this most definitely ain't, for The Fierce And The Dead are an important cog in the current burgeoning British alt-rock scene, along with the likes of Guapo, Schnauser, and Knifeworld and others. All those bands are different but they share an electric current of restless energy that leaves behind any notion that "prog rock" has to be in any way associated with or in thrall to its glorious past.

Produced as ever by bassist and mixing desk wiz Kevin Feazey, the sound is wonderfully clear and crisp, every nuance of this fearsome racket is laid before one's shell-likes in all its splendid sonic malevolence. The second new number Palm Trees sways in the breeze and soothes after that cataclysmic opener, but the slow math-rock melody is intermittently cajoled by blocks of post-rock chording that remind you that this band don't let the intensity slider fall for long. And so it is that the two guitars charge for the climax of this song on a tsunami of MBV noise that will leave your ears ringing. Bloody marvellous!

Flint is a re-recording of a tune from the band's first album, and Kevin's production has opened up the spaces in this song and added some electronic effects for good measure. The drum pattern by Stuart Marshall makes the tune skip along with joy in its heart. This is a nice exercise in "less is more", and not something you'd expect from these otherwise full-on chaps.

The enigmatically titled Part 6 (The 8th Circuit) commences with some sci-fi keyboards and motorik rhythms as the mothership lands in a fog of smoke. NoisyProgBastard has reformed and feeling sated and fully justified, having demolished the cavernous sleazepit it leaves behind, ascends the ramp, which closes behind it as the spaceship disappears in a cloud of dust.

The EP ends with two old songs recorded live in rehearsal, giving you a taste of what to expect from the live assault this band are said to deliver. Yes, I've yet to experience that, but I know it will happen at some point soon!

This EP is out on 14th August, and you can preorder it via the links below. The band are appearing at the Arctangent Festival a week later with, amongst others, Deerhoof, 65daysofstatic and the superbly monikered Dillinger Escape Plan.

Pre-order the EP HERE

...or here...Bandcamp

1. Magnet In Your Face (1:41)
2. Palm Trees (4:00)
3. Flint (4:24)
4. Part 6 (The 8th Circuit) (3:59)
5. Let's Start A Cult (rehearsal recording) (3:19)
6. Spooky Action (rehearsal recording) (3:12)

Total running time - 18:53

Line up:
Kevin Feazey - Bass, keyboards
Matt Stevens - Guitars, loops, keyboards
Steve Cleaton - Guitars, effects
Stuart Marshall – Drums

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