. issue XVII : ii .

by barathron

. artist : the fierce & the dead .
. album : spooky action .
. year : 2013 .
. label : bad elephant .
. grade : b plus .


The Fierce & The Dead (possibly splitting time between London and Morecambe) return this November with their second full length, Spooky Action. If words like fierce, dead, and spooky lead you to believe that you’re in for some atrocious, postured behemoth more cadaverous than meaty, you’re in for surprise. What’s really spooky is how The Fierce & The Dead seemingly keep refining their sound, getting leaner and meaner in some aspects, yet also increasingly expansive. Nothing here gets close to the physical sweep of their debut outing, but they cover as much familiar and unfamiliar ground as they ever have, even continuing that once nascent saga with “Part 4.” The Fierce & The Dead almost reach contradiction status with a brighter, more open production that makes them crystalline in the gentlest of moments and more jagged and frayed when the furnace is fully stoked. Spooky Action’s closing statement, “The Chief,” is a prime example in full length, though you’ll hear that all through the album. It has a quality not dissimilar to Crimson, a band that The Fierce & The Dead nod to not only in construct, but in purpose. If the above word gave you pause of any kind, then ‘prog’ may do even more damage. The Fierce & The Dead definitely have stakes in that camp, but in encompassing so much more, they tie themselves tighter to its legacy by distancing themselves from it. Actions and reactions fold in artful post-rock tendencies and structure, the abrasiveness of metal, an almost punkish fury in Kev Feazey’s wonderfully up-front and fraught bass work … all with a dedication to the melodious, no matter how discordant they sound. With time spent in the hinterlands between the cerebral and the corporeal, The Fierce & The Dead don’t forget a sense of humor, a dose of playfulness in the intricacies; for examples, see the frenetic “Let’s Start a Cult” or the hand-clapping call to arms rock-kicking off the title cut that morphs into something else altogether. The Fierce & The Dead call Spooky Action a collection of ‘songs about cults, quantum physics and absent friends.’ If you don’t find cults, science and your comrades terrifying and absurd in equal measure, and consequently intriguing, then you might actually be the one that’s dead.

by Mr. Atavist