Tom reviews: Music... The Fierce & The Dead

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Tom reviews: Music... The Fierce & The Dead

Post by Vicious Pig Fecal Police on Sat Jul 30, 2011 11:27 pm


The Fierce & The Dead - If It Carries On Like This We're Moving to Morcambe
I was going to review an individual song (Pinkle Ponkle) but YouTube broke so HERE WE GO! Now I'm going to abbreviate the band name, 'The Fierce & The Dead' to the smiley 'TF&TD' and the album name to 'IICOLTWMTM‘ Now, this album is an album. It has music, it came in a shiny CD case (Which I didn't buy because I have no money because I spent it all on 10 year old japanese meth addicts). IICOLTWMTM is an inventive album, it has guitars, it has no vocalist because all the band members are nuns vowed to silence (Not really), and many have classified the album as 'Post-Prog', being a convenient mash up between two great genres: Progressive rock, and Fencepost Cow Suicidal Black Metal (Again, not really).

Now TF&TD are relatively unknown in the musical omniverse, with the band effectively being co-ordinated by the lead guitarist, Matt Stevens, probably most well-known for his solo albums, of which there are two (Both fantastic, with a third to be released later this year), and his technique of loop guitar.

The album opens with the track, 'Flint', which starts off with the sound of fireflies being borne skywards in a spiral of confusion, gradually focusing into a cone of intense, concentrated joy. The bass gradually fades in and the fireflies disappear unto the spatial horizon, leaving a mellow, optimistic tune, which is soon complimented by a residual glimmer of guitar, caused by the fireflies disappearing from the view of the watcher. The sky is clear, and the listener is lying atop a hill at twilight, with a gentle breeze stirring the grass that envelops him, as he gazes at the beautiful sight in the sky. The drums suddenly break in, and the listener is transported a bit closer to civilisation. You are now standing above a rooftop in an urban city centre at night, on the tallest rooftop, looking far into the distance at the gentle meld of lights and darkness, creating the sense that he is content, living symbiotically with a modern culture, yet all the downfalls of humanity are hidden from view. The song continues along this feel for a while, until a distinctive high note pierces the regularity and provides a distinct end to the phrase. At this point the bass is amped up, and becomes more recognisable, and the melodious and harmonious duality to the music provide a euphoric experience. The song keeps this up for a while, and gradually slows, suppressing and removing the drums, until only the guitars are left, to provide a peaceful end to the song. Tom's rating on a scale of 0-5 eargasms: 4.50/5

The second song on the album is titled 'Part 2', presumably because it's the second song on the album, or perhaps it's because they made a 'Part 1' but it was lost when someone was clearing out their porn folder and accidentally deleted it. This song takes on a different feel from the previous song, with the bass being the only immediate, distinct instrument. In a contrast to Flint, Part 2 is all about suddenness, with all the instruments breaking in at normal volume, when they are needed. No fade in, no warning, just straight and to the point. The opening phrase of this song retains an air of mystery to it, with the cadences being incredibly unsatisfactory cliffhangers of music. Then the phrase changes and the guitar breaks into something more rhythmical, yet it feels like it's restraining something. There's a restrained animal in the body of the music, but the guitar does not let it escape. This feels to me to have a very similar atmosphere to 'Ki', by The Devin Townsend Project. Now this phrase repeats itself unnecessarily in my opinion, as a phrase does not have to be done twice to make itself sound 'round' and 'whole', especially not when touching upon such genres as post-rock and prog rock (While this cannot be classified whole-heartedly as prog-rock, it does contain elements which are comparable to the genre). Following this phrase, the beast is let free within the music, but this is not a mindless, savage beast, but a majestic one, such as a pure-bred stallion or an eagle perched atop a high mountain. This eagle is responsible for a giant tsunami headed for a small harbour town, and the music encapsulates the wisdom and power of which the eagle holds over the innocent and unsuspecting villagers below. The guitar represents the power of the wave, the bass represents the control that is being held over it. The music abruptly changes, as is the spirit of this song, and this phrase, the music returns to its 'cliffhanger' feel, with odd cadences, leading to a series of what appear to be broken chords of an abstract scale used only by jazz musicians and the insane. The song brings itself in a nice circle, finishing as it began, and ends with a nicely reverberating guitar note, which leaves the song, again, feeling so unfinished. This isn't my favourite song on the album, but as with all of them, it has its moments. Tom's rating on a scale of 0-5 eargasms: 3.75/5

The third song on the album is titled 'The Wait', which metaphorically lives up to the name. I imagine this to be reminiscent of a man sitting alone in his contemporary wooden house, on a quiet country road, with the winter sun glaring off the thick snow that layers the ground. This man is waiting for the arrival of perhaps a long lost relative or friend, waiting nervously with great anticipation, but the person he is waiting for was due an hour ago and he's tired of waiting. He's been let down and is sitting contemplating his depressing life, with the guitars providing a mellow sound to the music, slightly repetitive to mirror the regular, monotonous routine to his life, and as he contemplates his loneliness, he starts to contemplate suicide, when suddenly there's the sound of a car pulling up into the driveway. The guitar becomes slightly more upbeat, and then there's a knock - the guitar jumps up an octave and increases in volume, and the feeling of relief and anticipation flood you, and the two people embrace in a heart-warming display of affection between the two people. The following musical phrases are an expressive, metaphorical montage of the remaining events of the day, as the people recount the events of the past few years, and the day gets wasted and slowly the light fades to become night. The song fades out to finish, and has the effect of a camera which has been filming the whole day fading out in an artistic sense. This song provokes many feelings within me, and I feel this is an amazing song. Tom's rating on a scale of 0-5 eargasms: 4.50/5

The fourth song is entitled 'H.R.', which I presume stands for 'Human Resources'. The songs on IICOLTWMTM tend to fall into two categories, which are songs with a sense of immediacy and a 'no frilly shit' attitude, and songs which are elaborately nuanced. This song is by far my least favourite song on the album, with the guitar being similar throughout for the first two minutes, striking dissonant and discordant notes, leading rather quickly into a messy noise of overdrive and moderate chromaticism. The name 'H.R.' suits the song, as I find it as needless as Human Resources. Some people may like this song, but I find the song hard on the ears when compared with some of the other beautiful songs on this album like 'Flint'. Overall, this short song is lacking in inspiration and creativity leaving the listener quite disappointed. Tom's rating on a scale of 0-5 eargasms: 2.25/5

The fifth song is called 'Hotel No. 6', and it takes on an incredible serene atmosphere, with the background music I can only describe as being an 'aura of noise', and the sounds feel to me like tiny disturbances upon the calm surface of a lake. None of the music in this track is distinct or definite, so if listening inattentively, you can't appreciate the true beauty of this song. The song effectively provides the greatest link with the post-rock genre, with all the serenity of a fantastic post-rock band intact. All the instruments in this song are not used to so much create a melody, but create an atmosphere. If you have played EVE, this song kind of fits in with the themes of the EVE soundtrack, but it is most comparable to how you would imagine cosmic music. Gentle, subtle, and one of the best songs on the album. Tom's rating on a scale of 0-5 eargasms: 4.75/5

The sixth song, entitled 'Landcrab', breaks in with a loud, fast(ish) drum beat, which is accompanied by a distorted bass melody which suits the beat to a tee. The guitar comes in soon after, which while taking on a seemingly boring chromatic ascension through a minor 3rd, seems to add to the whole feel of unease and urgency about the song. The musical 'chorus' is a rhythmic series of harsh sounding guitars, making the song seem angry and wild. The distinct melody on this track appears to be carried by the bass guitar, which has been amped up in volume to compete with the guitar, as the guitar tune is frantic and disorganised. After two 'verse' sections and two 'choruses', the guitar performs a solo, which is a nice speed, and isn't done to show off any musical talent so much as to create an air of urgency to the song. The inclusion of the solo benefits the song and prevents it becoming repetitive, and with the motive not being 'Let's play as many notes as fast as we possibly can to make the metal fans go ooh', it certainly makes the song much better. The song ends very shortly after this, with a single, long drawn-out note that by the end is another mumble of disarrayed, low, overdriven notes. This song, for one of the less dreamy ones, is one of the better ones and definitely worth a listen. Tom's rating on a scale of 0-5 eargasms: 4.00/5

The last four songs on the album are works of art, with the seventh song being called 'Daddies Little Helper'. This song is perhaps most comparable to 'Part 2' in musical style, with the Bass Guitar playing a mezzo-staccato series of three notes which as with flint, help to create a contemporary, classy feel to the music. This 'classy' feel is added to by the guitar which is a single arpeggiated chord repeated at the start of the phrase until the phrase changes. After the phrase-shift, the musical texture changes, and the two guitars (Second guitar played by Kev the Bass player (I asked Matt Stevens himself =) )) fit together perfectly, making an angelic harmony that makes perfect 'lounge' style music! Following the guitar duet is a gentle saxophone solo, which turns the track into something you might hear in a city bar. The guitar chips into this solo 'broken-record' style, like when you're using windows and you keep mashing keys to get the error sound to go really fast, with the exception that this isn’t remotely annoying and instead helps modernise it. The saxophone solo leads back into the same guitar duet as before, to make it an effectual musical chorus. A varied chorus is put in to bring the song towards a climax, with the pitch climbing and the bass and drums cutting out to make the listener really notice when they come back in again, and when they do, you can feel the musical layers build. To indicate this isn’t the end of the song though, they don’t build to an ‘epic proportion’, but instead cut out halfway to ‘epic’ for ANOTHER SAXOPHONE SOLO! Although the last one was good, this surpasses the other on the ‘funkeh’ scale. This solo builds more upon a jazz base, with the guitars being included with more of a ‘yeah’ feel, than a ‘mhm’ feel… If that makes sense to anybody out there! The only disappointment to this song is the somewhat abrupt ending, with the solo immediately tailing off into the sound similar to the sound your PC makes when connecting using dial up, and followed swiftly by the end. If it wasn’t for the ending, this would probably be my favourite song, but unfortunately, it ends! Tom’s rating on a scale of 0-5 eargasms: 4.25/5

The eighth song, and possibly the strangest one, is called ‘Woodchip’, perhaps named so, to add to the strangeness, as it draws attention to a seemingly random object. This song is one for the surrealists out there! The song fades in with a ‘sci-fi’ style electronic keyboard sound, with reverb on, in order to make multi-layered textures possible. The song reminds me heavily of ‘Song of the Purple Mushroom Fish’ by Orange Goblin, in the surreal, dreamlike quality to the music. The song quickly transforms its vibe from positive to negative without the listener noticing, with the music descending into an almost creepy set of discrete glissandos before the song slowly fades away to nothing. There’s not much you can really say about ‘Woodchip’, but it’s a song definitely for the people wanting to see the post-rock elements of their music. Tom’s rating on a scale of 0-5 eargasms: 3.80/5

The penultimate, and possibly the most famous song, is ‘10x10’ (which I wake up to every morning). This song is bass-heavy, with the guitar adding background compliments rather than stealing the show. The guitar at the beginning plays similarly to a violin somehow, the note changes are smooth, and the minor 6ths (I think) make the song seem mysterious. The once again contemporary sounding guitar comes in with a full-bodied melody, shortly followed by a mellifluous second guitar leading in to accompany it. After this section the drums kick in to a more noticeable extent, and the rhythm changes smoothly. The looping guitars used are slightly surreal and make the album a bit less ‘mainstream’, for all you hipsters out there. Around 1:30 another one of TF&TD’s funkier sections kick in to my great enjoyment. The song suddenly falls quiet about 2/3rds of the way in, to a gentle background noise and a piano playing very quietly. The instruments come in from there one by one until before you know it, the song is in full swing again! This song is my favourite off the album, along with Andy Fox, and definitely worth a listen. It’s upbeat, it’s catchy, go listen! Tom’s rating on a scale of 0-5 eargasms: 5.00/5… or should that be 100(%)? /badtitlepun

The final song on the debut album is ‘Andy Fox’, my joint favourite with ‘10x10’, and takes on a completely different approach to the music as the previous tracks. The song is led in by a mysterious, lentissimo piano melody. The bass in this song is instrumental to the sound, as it changes the same piano tune from sounding very eerie, into a more upbeat sounding tune. Around 1:35 the song quickly kick-starts and the volume quickly rises to signal the main body of the song. The feel towards most of the song is an incredibly relaxed composition with some minor elements of mysteriousness. There’s a saxophone included about midway through the song, which initially plays along with the whole easy-going feel of the song, and after another one of those ‘crescendos’ (Not actually crescendos, but carry the forward motion similar to a rhyming couplet in poetry), the saxophone goes wild, and creates an auditory tapestry of abstraction that if played by itself would sound like a 3 year old that’s been left alone in a room with it, but in with the whole song, the frequently discordant sax vitalises the music and makes it the masterpiece that it is. Great work by the band. Tom’s rating on a scale of 0-5 eargasms: 5.00/5

For a debut album this certainly surpasses my expectations, with almost every song being of the quality of a top class band in the genre, yet there is much more to this band. This band has created a unique sound for themselves, and has created an album which has received a largely positive reception from the general public. Overall rating for the album = 4.6/5
For the album go to: bit.ly dEQDgV
The digital download is name your price so if you’re not particularly well off, you still have a reason to download it because it’s free if you want!
For Matt Stevens’ solo work, go to: bit.ly cBwSW

Thanks for reading my review, as my first proper one, feedback is always nice =)

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Re: Tom reviews: Music... The Fierce & The Dead

Post by NightSwimming on Sun Jul 31, 2011 10:23 am

It was certainly a long review, but I did read it all.
I love the way you phrase a time-place setting for each sound.
I will definitely give it a listen. And as I don't download, but buy, they might make a cent or two from me.
A very nice review indeed. I hope to read a few more from you!
Cheers

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Re: Tom reviews: Music... The Fierce & The Dead

Post by Vicious Pig Fecal Police on Sun Jul 31, 2011 2:14 pm

Woo go my first review! Any other people wanna comment?

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Re: Tom reviews: Music... The Fierce & The Dead

Post by Furburt on Sun Jul 31, 2011 2:43 pm

That was...much better than I expected it to be. Good show.

Moved it to the review forum, like a baws.

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