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The Fierce & The Dead - Spooky Action CD (album) cover


The Fierce & The Dead

Post Rock/Math rock

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kev rowland
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars There are times when a reviewer's life is not an easy one, and this is one of those times. Here I have the second album from an instrumental quartet (who use a couple of guests sparingly ' including some great brass from terry Edwards on two numbers), and I'm really not sure how to describe it. Saying that it is an incredible piece of work that grows on the listener each and every time they play it probably doesn't give enough information. Saying that they have large math rock influences, obviously have spent a lot of time listening to Robert Fripp, and are an incredibly tight outfit also doesn't really state what these guys are about. In Stuart Marshall they have a drummer who can keep it simple, or can turn into a demented Keith Moon when the need arises before getting back to business and providing something like a simple drum roll. Bassist Kevin Feazey often employs one of the filthiest bass sounds I have heard in a while (think of a distorted Chris Squire), yet he can also tone it down both in sound and attack, and knows when not to play at all and provide space for the twin guitars of Matt Stevens and Steve Cleaton. Having a rhythm section that can play such a huge melodic counterpoint gives a great foundation for these guys to go off and have a real blast.

Complex, intricate, all over the place yet always making sense as they go from one motif and style into another, these guys use dischord and disharmony as close friends to really stress what they are doing. In some ways this is quite a close relation to free jazz as they bound along and keep throwing musical ideas out here and there and seeing where they will be led. To discover that this was recorded in just four days is incredible, but probably explains the life and vitality that is prevalent throughout. If you like your music to be cutting edge, yet melodic, hard rock/metal yet progressive and full of jazz influences, or if you just want to discover yet another amazing band then you need to visit their site at and find out some more for yourselves.

Report this review (#1125645)
Posted Saturday, February 1, 2014 | Review Permalink
Second Life Syndrome
4 stars Who says instrumental music is boring? I know there are many out there that simply skip a band if they don't have a vocalist, but, if you do this, you'll miss some truly fantastic music. Take this new album from The Fierce & the Dead, "Spooky Action". It is completely unique, eclectic, and jammed with personality. It's the very definition of enjoyable.

The band certainly leans towards the math rock label, though that doesn't cover it even close to completely. The music, however, is full of sharp, sudden changes, and the fast pace of the music makes all of this seem so breath-taking. It's a roller coaster ride of music in every conceivable way. The music is very bass driven, as Kevin Feazey on bass is one of the highlights of the album. Loud and technical, the bass is the very foundation of the album. Add in Matt Stevens and Steve Cleaton on some very diverse guitars, and you know you are in for some funky interplay between instruments. Stuart Marshall adds oomph to all of this with his goosebump-inducing performance.

"Spooky Action", then, is technically proficient, but the personality is what really sets this album apart from the rest. Part of it comes from the guest musicians on brass and cello, but the rest comes from superior, playful writing. This is not a dark album. It is hefty, but light-hearted, fun, and delightful. The instrumental interplay is one point of wonder, as no one instrument overshadows the others. Like a well-oiled machine, The Fierce & the Dead pound and jam away with a perfection of unity. They can switch from folksy to metallic to rockin' all in the blink of an eye.

So, then, "Spooky Action" is the intersection of hand clappin', foot stompin', and head bangin'. It's not only a treat musically, but it's also a head-scratching good time because it is so complex, but so, well, fun. Skilled musicians alone could not have made this album. "Spooky Action" was written by true artists.

Report this review (#1133589)
Posted Tuesday, February 18, 2014 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars UK band THE FIERCE & THE DEAD was formed in 2011, more or less by chance, as a part of his solo career that took on a life on it's own in turn lead to the accidental formation of a regular band. The Fierce & the Dead have 3 EPs and two full albums to their name so far. "Spooky Action" is the most recent of the latter, and was released through UK label Bad Elephant Music in 2013.

Describing the music of The Fierce & the Dead is a task I suspect is just about impossible without an encyclopedic knowledge about rock history in my opinion. There are so many and varied subtle nods in a myriad of different directions flavoring the material on this album that I suspect a fairly large piece could be created chronicling the different planned and accidental details in the direction of specific artists, styles and genres. Few of these are dominant, but numerous adds depth and substance to the material. To mention two I surmise are accidental, I can name Lemmy and Tom Fischer.

These are in the smaller details department however, and the more dominant aspects of this fairly quirky production is of a much different character. Among the many recurring features are jazz-tinged details, mainly by the drums and guitars, that there's just about always space for at least some use of textured guitar layers of some kind or other, as well as what I'd describe as a slight tendency to incorporate a sound and style that does bring a curtain punk attitude to mind. Fairly often combined with or alternating with some fairly obvious nods in the direction of a certain Robert Fripp.

Firm, vibrant passages alternates with ones with a looser, more open nature, occasional dips into punk and metal tinged territories is on the order of the day too, twisted, distorted guitar sounds of the tortured variety is as natural an occurrence as free flowing, gentle layered guitar arrangements with delicate support and flowing smooth melodic overlays, a section that appears to be a marriage of ska and punk is as natural here as the Lemmy-era Hawkwind tendencies in the final passages of I Like It, I'm Into It.

This is a production that revolves around being non-conformative, sophisticated and challenging, yet also intriguingly primitive sounding at times. A production that comes across as unplanned, vital and made with an adventurous mind and an improvisational spirit. With tight musicians that know each other well, are safe with each others qualities, and skilled enough to succeed in the creation of challenging escapades, apparently in the spur of the moment.

Whether or not this is an album with at least some material of a more improvised nature or not isn't really important though. The important aspect of this production is that this is a challenging and unconventional CD of instrumental progressive rock. Daring, not always successful, although to what extent will be very much a subjective perception I guess. If you can imagine a project existing within the triangle of post-rock, punk and Frippan tinged excursions, with a bit of weirdness added to it, then you'll have the general idea of what this album is all about. If it sounds interesting, chances are that you'll enjoy this one.

Report this review (#1509015)
Posted Friday, January 8, 2016 | Review Permalink

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