The Fierce And The Dead have, at 40 minutes and 3 seconds, created something entirely passable. Two episodes of The Simpsons, almost half a game of football, a couple of chapters of the book I’m reading, most of the albums that have come out this year – these are the things that I could have enjoyed in the time I took working out what exactly the sudden lapses in production or the intensely long repetition of a couple of alright riffs were supposed to be doing.
To be clear from the off, the musicianship is great. There’s no denying that The Fierce And The Dead know how to play. It’s just it seems as though they’re not really sure what they want to be playing as a unit. After a nice twinkly riff becomes a solid heavy riff and repeats until I can’t help but check my watch, there’s a completely jarring break before the riff returns almost immediately to play out the end of opening track ‘Part 4’.
The majestically self-indulgent ‘Pyramid Hat’ takes an age to get going before offering some genuinely interesting vibes throughout the closing stages. Next up sees ‘I Like It, I’m Into It’ continue a theme of heavy, overdriven bass eventually lost beneath a sea of a guitar riff repeated ad infinitum. Occasionally too, I have to check back to earlier songs to double check that this very angular riff is not the same very angular riff that shows up every few minutes or so.
‘Intermission 3’ offers a brief respite from the monotony of ‘Spooky Action’ by providing two minutes of essentially nothing. Quiet noises offering pure filler for no reason whatsoever. It’s so obviously pointless however, that it’s difficult to hold it against The Fierce And The Dead. They must have done it on purpose. The title track that follows is actually pretty damn good. For a start it doesn’t sound quite so much like everything else on the album – the slow, twinkling guitars build to a beautiful crescendo and for once I find myself fully enjoying the experience the band provide.
Unfortunately though, it’s the highlight by some stretch. ‘Part 5’ sounds like the theme tune for a shoddy made for TV thriller. At least until some sort of brass/woodwind/whoopee cushion begins to disrupt proceedings with random blurts of noise towards the end.
‘Chief’ brings matters to a drawn out close. Half twinkle / half heavy, cut right through the middle, this track offers absolutely everything the rest of the record does – just over a much shorter period with just as little going on. If instrumental prog rock is your bag, you might well enjoy this record because it is exactly what it says on the tin. If that doesn’t sound like something you’re already very into, don’t bother. This one won’t win you over.
‘Spooky Action’ by The Fierce And The Dead is out now on Bad Elephant Music
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Words by Thomas Knott (@nounandthenouns)