Fierce Deity – Power Wisdom Courage
Released: September 3, 2021
Jonathon Barwick // vocals, guitars, bass, drums, Mario Cart
Fierce Deity is a phoenix of sorts. From the ashes of Taberah one of my favourite Australian bands rose something just a little bit different with Jonathon Barwick deciding to strike out on his own. Putting another band together obviously wasn’t on the front-man’s agenda, but making music was. After a string of releases starting with The Path – the song was included on the first edition of ‘Murders In The Rue Morgue Vol.1’ compilation reviewed here JB’s been a busy boy and knuckled down to release his debut album. What I was looking forward to mostly with this release was all those singles finally put together to for a complete and cohesive album. So imagine my surprise when I discovered none of those songs made it. Zero, zip, nada.
What we do have is a full length album consisting of only three songs dialling in at just over half an hour. My first thought was, it’s too short, gimme more. Then I remembered some truly great albums have come in at just around the 30 minute mark. The Manowar classic ‘Fighting The World’ or what is widely regarded the greatest heavy metal album of all time Slayer’s ‘Reign In Blood’. So with the “less-is-more” mindset I dived right into Power Wisdom Courage. The album title is also the order for the tracks, I don’t know if this is cliché or genius but it made remembering the order of the songs easy.
First cab of the rank is ‘Power’ which opens with that most metal of all instruments, the flute. The Ian Anderson inspired intro soon gives way to a chorus of operatic vocals and some tasty keyboards. JB has obviously gone all in with the epic stakes. It’s a gradual and dramatic build up to what is a huge song. The fat crunching riffs hit and the heaviness is crushing. If you’re familiar with his previous work the guitar tone is unmistakeable, as are JB’s vocals. This, like the album as a whole is incredibly well crafted. You can almost feel the passion that went into creating Power Wisdom Courage. It is one man’s single mindedness and drive. But no man is an island, and you get by with a little help from your friends. So good ole JB grabbed a few very special friends indeed. The addition of David Van Pelt was a master stroke. JB is no slouch on the keys, but there’s few who match the Acolyte’s ability on the synth. The pair trading solos is an absolute highlight of a song containing so many intricate parts all coming together in a sonic cavalcade.
I hate to use a cliché, but this album is a journey, with the epic proginess of the opening track giving way to a straight out rocker in ‘Wisdom’. Dirty guitar, more lashings of synth and JB vocal delivery reminiscent of the late great Freddy Mercury when he got down, dirty and rocked the fuck out! Throw into the mix a death metal guitarist in the shape of Psycroptic’s Joe Haley and this is a balls to the wall belter.
Rounding out the album is ‘Courage’, this time featuring Elder multi-instrumentalist Nick DiSalvo. This is a reprise of sorts of the opening track, but the over thirteen minute opus heads in its own direction. The least of not being more than a nod to a Game Of Thrones in the synth. Heroes, villains, monsters, demons and an almighty quest. This is old school swords and sorcery at its best. It’s so easy to cross the line from cool and atmospheric to cheesy and cringy. Fierce Deity avoids that line and you find yourself swept up in the imagery of sweeping plains and bare chested adventurers on noble quests.
Power Wisdom Courage is a brave endeavour, but in a world turned on its head in more ways than one any artist striking out and going against the norm is to be applauded. Fierce Deity gets a standing ovation from me.
Fierce Deity – Power Wisdom Courage tracklisting: