THE FIERCE AND THE DEAD – The Euphoric

For years, it felt like The Fierce And The Dead were a band that few people knew or talked about. Then, at some point prior to the release of their ‘Magnet’ EP in 2015, they started getting semi-regular coverage in Prog Magazine. This helped them to become a cult band in the truest sense, though it still seems odd that they’ve been so embraced by the prog crowd. They’re far beyond the Genesis, Porcupine Tree and Dream Theater clones that so much of the Prog audience seem to hold so dear. Their previous releases have had a progressive bent, it’s true, but their artier side has taken in elements of Fugazi and other angular noise-makers that would normally make your average prog fan run for the (Solsbury) hills. There’s a tale that suggests, apparently, at one indoor prog rock event, The Fierce And The Dead managed to half empty a room. For all the talk, some prog fans are anything but progressive in their tastes.

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AWOOGA – Conduit

Creating a hybrid metal-based sound of doom, grunge, sludge and progressive metal, Awooga floored at least half of the competition with their debut EP ‘Alpha’. Taking cues from Deftones, Tool and Amplifier, the band created a sound that went far beyond being just a composite of its influences; a brilliant technical ability and a melodic vocal often contrasting the heaviness made it very compelling listening.

Approximately eighteen months on, the Sheffield-based riff-meisters have created something rather special in their first full length album. ‘Conduit’ takes everything that was great about the EP and refines it and improves upon it, but without any temptation to make it more commercial. The production is amazing; the songs – if indeed they are songs as opposed to a collection of amazing riffs with a vocal weaving in and out – each showcase a band who’ve really taken their time in making sure everything is almost perfect. And it shows: there’s barely a note out of place , and with the album clocking in at an old fashioned forty minute running time, there’s been no temptation to waste a second of it.

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AWOOGA – Alpha EP

awoogaSheffield’s Awooga play music with a dark soul, but it could never be tagged gothic. Their music has a doomy heart, but it’s not straight up doom metal. It’s progressive and can be heavy, but never in the half-arsed way that three thousand Dream Theater wannabes think is acceptable. If you were to try and pigeonhole them, the closest comparison would be to liken them to a hybrid of Amplifier and early Deftones. The Amplifier-ish elements within their heavy and wandering arrangements probably went some way to scoring the band support slots with Amplifier themselves even before they’d released any studio material. How they got to support the Soft Machine obsessed Knifeworld, on the other hand, is anyone’s guess…

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RED CAIN – Red Cain EP

red-cain-epThere are too many bands within the progressive metal sphere that desperately want to be Dream Theater. Why, in the name of sanity, would musicians think that ten minute fretboard masturbatory noises and rhythmic histrionics would represent the apex of such talents? It’s bewildering to say the least, especially considering Dream Theater’s abominably boring live “shows”. With this in mind – and so much progressive metal leaning towards the unlistenable because of it – it’s refreshing when a band comes along that appreciates the necessity of a reasonable chorus and knows that shorter track lengths are necessary if a wider audience is to be reached. Calgary’s Red Cain are one such band. The spectrum affected purists might dismiss some of this debut EP as just metal, or alt-metal, but these four songs take in a variety of moods – and the forays into instrumental complexity, albeit without self-indulgence, still places them within the progressive bracket.

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