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High Tide - A Fierce Nature CD (album) cover

A FIERCE NATURE

High Tide

 

Heavy Prog

1.80 | 11 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

The Whistler
Prog Reviewer
2 stars So, after the weird and somewhat controversial (one would imagine...it’s actually not famous enough to be controversial) Interesting Times, Simon House evacuated once again, and Tony Hill got occasional collaborator Drachen Theaker to replace the drums machines. This was in 1990, you have to understand, so grunge or alternative or SOMETHING had to be more popular than the eighties scene at this point, and the result is a heavier, more natural sounding High Tide. In fact, the overall sound of this album brings us back to the debut.

Good, yes? HA! No. Oh. Dear. God. NO. Even if the SOUND is back, the quality is somewhat lacking. And by somewhat lacking, I mean you could probably make more amusing melodies by beating your head against a table.

So “Chess” welcomes us to this brave new world I just described. Pretty standard High Tide formula at this point; downbeat lyrics with a cute vocal melody and heavy riffage (and drumming!) behind it. But it never evolves beyond decent-but-not-great metal, and the vocals end up sounding clumsy. “Roll On” tries to take that formula and insert some energy into it. The lyrics are also a little more interesting, and the result is a little more headbanging, but all in all, heavy metal atmosphere that’s not very memorable.

“A Fierce Nature” starts off as anything but fierce, as the title track tries to woo us with some simple folksy guitar stings. It evolves into...not much more, like just about everything else on this album. The damn things does get louder, then quieter, then back and forth. But it’s too damn jumpy for its own good. It sounds like there’s a nice vocal melody SOMEWHERE under the pies of guitar assery, but it never sits still long enough for you to find out.

“Tribute,” however, is horrible. That is, if it were about eight or ten minutes shorter, it would be fantastic! It’s a blues instrumental, you see, based around this very simple blues bass riff (in fact, it’s one of the few places on the album where I hear a bass or a riff). From High tide, I would have expected, you know, a complex blues riff, but still, blues is blues. And so it is! For twelve eternal minutes. And the only time there’s some variation is, about two minutes until the end, the drums become more subtle and the guitar tone gets fuzzier (an attempt at aping House’s violin?)...that’s about it. Poo.

“Time to Change” tries (and fails) to keep up the bluesy riffage, and it ends up being unintelligible rather than unintelligent. Corny ass lyrics too (damn it Hill, not only is this NOT the summer of love, but you never went along with that ideology anyway! What happened?). And “Incitement” is ANOTHER instrumental duffer, and it’s not much help that it’s three minutes shorter than “Tribute.” Hell, it might be worse, since “Tribute” at least had a sense of a long lost forgotten purpose. This is the aimlessness of the title track stretched out of almost ten minutes of chaotic guitar yuck teamed up with unimaginative jazz drumming.

How odd then that we end with “Power and Purpose,” a two minute folksy ballad that has nothing in common with almost all of the forty minutes that came before it. No crazy ass noodling. No drums that sounded like they were recorded two years later. Just some optimistic/pessimistic lyrics and some medieval chords on an acoustic guitar. I don’t know how good it is, but after the rest of Fierce Nature, it’s like a refreshing drink.

So why do I give out the generous rating of a two? Only out of the utmost respect I have for these musicians. First off, they’re talented folks. Drachen Theaker is a bit chaotic, but hey, he plays lead drums, not rhythm. And Tony Hill is easily one of the most underrated guitarists in art rock. His technique (if not his sensibilities) have improved with age. Also, it must have taken a lot of balls to record this album at the time (and, if sound quality is any indication, it was recorded specifically in Tony’s basement) with only two guys. Okay, so it was released onto some nowhere label, but still, you get my point.

Unfortunately, big balls do not necessarily equal quality (as my ex-wife is so fond of telling me). Even if they are two talented musicians playing in a style that is very pleasing to my ears, they are still playing crap. Barring the first two songs (and those are debatable) and the closing ballad, there is nothing worth hearing here. Hell, there’s nothing you haven’t heard before, if you’ve been paying attention. So Tony’s playing Goth again. That’s cool. But could he try and attach it to some better melodies?

Damn it. Everything here is so full of promise, but the lands manage to screw it up at every turn. Like the epic “Tribute,” the intentions are clearly noble, but you’re left wondering why? And when are they going to shut up? The style is back, but no melodies (or riffs damn it! Remember “Futilist’s Lament?” That was a riff!); the musicians are good, but they’re playing nothing worthwhile. Ugh.

The Whistler | 2/5 |

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