The Fierce and the Dead – On VHS

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The Fierce and The Dead
On VHS

The Fierce and the Dead are a London quartet supplying instrumental post-rock. They made a small dent last year with their debut album ‘If It Carries on like This We’re Moving to Morecombe’, but have returned with the free-to-download ‘On VHS’, a four-track EP showcasing exactly the kind of work that has got people turning their heads towards the band.

This EP is something of a mixed bag, the unsettling and slightly repetitive ‘666…and 6’ opening proceedings before its’ second track, ‘Hawaii’, comes along; a marauding shredder compared to the usual plaintiff stylings familiar with most bands of their ilk, and it wouldn’t have sounded amiss as a soundtrack to the video games of yesteryear. It steps up a gear in the second half, the title track possessing a sweet bass riff that drives the song as though it’s a late-night jam on the beach, occasionally being interrupted by a trepidant melody backed up with possibly a swarm of bees as it glides in, eventually returning to its siesta by the shore. ‘On VHS’ last track ‘Part 3’ is an indelible post-rock crystal stamp, leading at first with a laidback brooding riff which eventually bulks up into a noddable groover.

The Fierce and the Dead aren’t the first post-rock band to emerge in all of history and while there are some interesting flashes of brilliance on display here, it’ll be a while before they truly stand out from the pack. But already they’re on the way, and there’s no reason not to suggest they can’t join the pantheon of instrumental rock. ‘On VHS’ is an enterprising work, one that becomes more enjoyable with each listen from its unsettling beginning to its smooth sojourn at the end, and the only way for these guys can surely be skywards?

Peter Clegg

Buy/download ‘On VHS’ here (CD/name-your-price download)
Stream it below:

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Tree of Sores – A Cry of Despair

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Tree of Sores
A Cry of Despair
Witch Hunter 

There is something immensely satisfying about stumbling upon that album that really hits the spot. That gets everything just right, that leaves you think ‘hot damn’, leaving you with nothing more than a positive feeling upon the closure of that record. It happened last year with YOB’s ‘Atma’, courtesy of a fantastic five-track set that concluded with ‘Adrift in the Ocean’. Its albums like ‘Atma’ that can simply carry you away and almost get you complete lost in its tumultuous journey. I truly believe that Leeds trio Tree of Sores capture the essence of this paragraph on their second album, the singular, twenty-eight minute track, ‘A Cry of Despair’.

Tree of Sores certainly wowed critics and fans alike on their debut album, capturing their chief influences of Neurosis, Wolves in the Throne Room, etc., blending into a sonic post-metal mass that got the band some worthy recognition, having dutifully pulverized the Leeds scene for some time. They have taken that one step further this time with this solo track, unashamed to display their influences but still creating an identity of their own. This time they called in Joe Hall (Wiht) to handle bass duties, no stranger to long meandering songs himself, and right from the off there’s an air of something rapturous from this triumvirate.

The band describe ‘A Cry of Despair’ as six or seven riffs or ‘movements’, ranging from the bleak and quiet to the powerful and unrelenting. Vocals aren’t the most important aspect of Tree of Sores music, notable as the track wears on, but where guitarist/vocalist Matt Faragher does yell, he does so with both ferocity and forlorn, helping to drive the song forward after nearly three minutes of foreboding build-up. A third of the way in, things take a turn for the elegant and the previous drive subsides for a moment of graceful sparsity. Before long, the song powers back up and you’re being pummelled into submission by Ben Hague’s relentless pounding. The band continue to ease between moments of sorrowful echoes and further crunching drive for the continuation of the song, finally ringing out at the end with one final movement.

Huge songs aren’t everyone’s bag but Tree of Sores haven’t just mastered it with ‘A Cry of Despair’, they’ve made it look easy. The shift between atmospheric reflections and power surges ensure the song doesn’t have any time to become stagnant, dragging you along in its undertow instead. The US has been chock full of bands of this ilk lately, including the likes of Tombs and the aforementioned WitTR. Tree of Sores can certainly match these and judging from the reaction they’re getting from the blogosphere at the other side of the pond, they’re not doing a bad job of it. Put simply, this is essential listening, and if this review or any other positive review doesn’t convince you this band is the real deal, then I guess Tree of Sores isn’t your thing. That, or you’re a clown.

Peter Clegg

Buy/download ‘A Cry of Despair’ here (name-your-price)
Buy a physical copy here (CD)
Stream it below:

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