Wednesday, February 15, 2012
My thoughts on The Fierce and The Dead's On VHS EP
I am a big fan of both Matt Stevens and the band he plays guitar with... The Fierce and The Dead... and, as you can imagine, I jumped at the chance to get a preview of "On VHS" TFATD's latest EP. This release doesn't disappoint nor does it suffer from any sophomore album-type jitters... this is a prime example of instrumental rock music at its finest... taut, muscular and powerful.
It certainly packs a punch but it also displays a delightful predisposition towards melody, imaginative expression and intricate detail... which, for me, helps TFATD stand out. The influences of post-hardcore and progressive rock are evident... but there is something new in the mix too. They haven't just rehashed the past but sought to move forward... both in terms of their personal musical direction and on a broader macro level.
The addition of second guitarist Steve Cleaton was an inspired move... further enhancing the riffage and the melodies allowing the EP to be both heavier and more tuneful. It has also freed Stevens up to be less dependent of loops and empowered him to reach out... and reach out he does with some tremendous skill presented to the listener.
That said, its not all about the guitars... the ongoing partnership of Kev Feazey and Stuart Marshall on bass and drums has benefitted from the elapsed time together... they sound tighter... with Feazey's bass, in particular, getting some sublime front-and-centre focus throughout the EP.
The opening track - "666...6" - is a wonderfully upbeat and remarkably jaunty number featuring a sweet bass solo and the interplay of guitars before some seriously chunky melodies take to the fore. The variety of sounds and real focus on melody make this track a great opener.
The next track - "Hawaii" - features an interesting amalgam of chunky Dr Know-esque riffage with sweet surfy style guitar runs. It's a heady combination... one that works really, really well.
The third and penultimate track - "On VHS" - features the two guitarists playing off each other... with the effective mid-tempo backing of Feazey & Marshall... to create the most delightful King Crimson-esque wall-of-sound.
The last track - "Part 3" - is longer than the other three by about three minutes. This additional space provides room for the track to infuse... to grow stronger and more flavourful as the time passes. It is truly a belter of a track... with a taut bass opening, some sweet slide guitars and a beautiful melody that makes way for a heavier expression.
All in... "On VHS" is fantastic. It exemplifies instrumental rock music at its very best. Bold, powerful and imaginative. My only criticism is its too short... there isn't enough to satiate my hunger. I has left me looking forward for more. My hope for 2012 is to catch them live.
Have a wee listen to the title track "On VHS" below... and get your pre-order in for the CD which contains two extra remixes.