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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Fiend

Seeress

Review by Mike Korn

There are not many albums that take you on a real sonic journey anymore. Well, here is one, coming from a French band that I have never heard of before. That doesn’t mean these guys are novices, though. They have connections to bands like Ministry, Senser, KMFDM and France’s number-one hard industrial act, Treponem Pal. But what kind of sonic stew has Fiend stirred up on Seeress?

I can’t say I’ve heard anything quite like this before. In simplest terms, it seems to mix a hard industrial feel with Sabbath like heaviness and the spacey weirdness of the heaviest Hawkwind. Even that description doesn’t do the project justice because Fiend often pulls a musical rabbit out of their hat that turns things upside down. Listening to this, I heard traces of Prong, Hawkwind, Alice In Chains, thrash and death metal, Swans and Monster Magnet. It shouldn’t work but somehow it does and it rocks like hell.

This may not be the easiest disc to find but believe me, it’s worth the hunt if you’re tired of cookie cutter crap and are looking for heavy music with its own identity.


This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2019  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Morning Star/Bounce V5

A scratchy static noise creeps for a minute before giving way to a raging, angry burst of musical fury. The vocals of Heitham al Sayed are clean but very ticked off. The bass and drum interplay here is super intense. It slows down to plodding heaviness and then slows even more to a slow bass lick. Strange spacey noises and plaintive vocals play over the bass, and then we return to the original metal hammering which now seems even more powerful. This track is strong, but this is just beginning of the trip and only hints at what’s to come.

Ancestral Moon/Bounce V4
A lot of this reminds me of the long running industrial metal act Prong with its choppy heavy riffs. Then a thick stoner rock type section comes in. The mix of industrial metal and stoner/doom rock sounds odd but it works pretty well here. The real surprise is when the band cut loose with a scorching acid rock guitar solo that could have easily come out of the early 70s. Again, there’s a more subdued and restrained psychedelic part that almost sounds like Middle Eastern or Indian music. Then the pounding aggressive riffing returns to bring this to a strong climax.
Pillars/Bounce V4
Guitar noise leads to a crushing doomy riff that is almost out of the Sleep or Saint Vitus book. There’s again a Middle Eastern kind of feel and some chanted vocals that makes it pretty trippy. The screaming lead guitar on this cut is just amazing and equals any Monster Magnet solo you’ve ever heard. The cut finally ends with the hypnotic drone of an Indian tambura.  I hate to admit it, but if you were zoned out on some illegal substance, this one would really blow your mind.
Vessels/ Bounce V6
Spacey sounds give way to a real strong blast of Hawkwind style heavy rock, drenched in guitar effects and with plenty of hard crunch. This is just flat out killer metal rock that bounces along a throbbing bass line that will have you nodding your head. It cools down into a total space rock section with weird cosmic noises and synth tones. Then the monster riff of the album kicks in heavy and majestic while guitar and synth duel on top.  I could have listened to this for an hour but alas…
5th Circuits/ Bounce V5
This album just does not let up. This cuts in right away with a very intense choppy feel that again reminds me of Prong in full flight. The vocals even sound like Tommy Victor yelling at the top of his lungs. There’s some death like growling here for the first time. There’s also some great bass and drum interplay. The middle section is perhaps the heaviest and most metallic of the album. Then Fiend throws a real curve at you as an honest-to-God Hammond organ solo right out of the Jon Lord or Ken Hensley playbook appears. It sounds perfectly logical and helps bring the song to a close.
A Crown of Birds/Bounce V6
This almost 10 minute cut takes a while to build up steam and covers a lot of territory. It’s the most diverse song here. The beginning is slow and restrained with a simple guitar chord repeated. The feeling is dark and ominous, as more layers are added including more organ. The vocals are a kind of monotonous chant as doomy Sabbath like chords play. Aggression picks up in the vocals and drums, but the pace stays slow. Around the six minute mark, things shift to an almost death metal feel as gang vocals yell. This is as heavy as hell. Another ripping retro-flavored guitar solo comes blazing in. The guitarists take no prisoners! They take the track through the home stretch.
The Gate/ Bounce V8
If the album ended with the previous track, it would have been logical. But now we get this 13 minute plus oddity that sounds like it could be from a different band completely and which will test the patience of many due to its length and repetition. But be patient, it does build to an unexpected conclusion. The beginning is super quiet and minimalist bass. A weird voice sample talking about planet earth being recycled is repeated…I’m pretty sure the sample comes from that UFO cult in Canada that committed suicide in the 90s. Minimal drums and piano check in. Shrieking metallic noises appear to startle the listener. This pattern continues for quite a while. At last a doomy guitar riff starts to plod away. Then that fades, and the song returns to the more minimal style, only with more emphasis on guitar noise.”Planet Earth will come to an end,” the voice drones. “Your only chance to survive is to come with us.” The heavy guitar plod returns with Hammond organ drone and squawling and abrasive noise on the top. Just when you are ready to holler "uncle," there is a shocking change in direction. Acoustic folky guitar dominates with a pleasant and hushed vocal line joining. It continues that way until a different kind of doomy guitar plod thunders in. The vocals are trippy and ghost-like. Finally the song gives way to a super raw guitar hook that is very Swans-like, and this is where this wild journey finally ends. Only a few will be able to hang on until the last.
 
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