Cheltenham thrashers get ready to take over the world with second album
They say if you’re a writing a novel or screenplay you need to grab the reader in the first page or two otherwise they won’t make it past the second page. It’s a logic that Cheltenham melodic thrashers Reign Of Fury have adopted as they unleash their second album on a public, who know it or not, are crying out loud for the next great thrash band.
The UK thrash scene has had more than one revival attempt of the past decade. Many excellent bands have thrust themselves to the fore by paying homage to their 1980’s American heroes whilst forging ahead with a modern take on the old school thrash sound and ethics. Unfortunately as with any surge in popularity within a genre you also get plenty of sub-standard bands and copyists. Fortunately that means that the exceptional bands stand out more.
Maximum Volume have been aware of Reign Of Fury since picking them out as one to watch at 2012’s Bloodstock Festival where they performed on the New Blood Stage prior to the release of their impressive debut album World Detonation. We were heavily impressed at the time and have kept our beady eyes on the band ever since.
Before we commence any further let’s get the issue of influence, which always comes up with new thrash bands, out of the way first. Of course, the influence of early era Metallica (Justice/Puppets) is all over this album, so to is a generous splattering of Anthrax and Testament. That said it is a modern melodic thrash album so a moshpit-style headbutt, rather than a polite nod, to the glories of 30 years ago is more a sign of respect rather than a wishful fulfillment. After all there is plenty of scope to push the genre forward without forgetting its core aesthetics.
The aforementioned debut album gave an early glimpse into the band’s potential but it’s difficult see how many folk, aside from those closest to the band, who would have felt that they would leapfrog several rungs on the ladder in such a short time with this release. With this album they have gone from a really good young thrash band to potential major players in the genre. In other words this should take them from being regulars in the “ones to watch” column to being a permanent fixture in the “ones not to be missed”.
With “Faustian Mastery” the album announces itself with a mid-paced opening that quickly disappears to make way for a full-on riff assault that will have the young pit-goers throwing themselves around with extra reckless abandon in forthcoming shows.
Vocally the album flits comfortably between standard gang vocals, Hetfield-esque refrains and death metal growls dependent on the mood. The staccato riffing is, as one would expect or even demand, prevalent throughout this album, where would thrash be without it. The drums are at all times thunderous and perfectly in harmony with the menacingly rumbling bass lines.
It’s not all 100 miles per hour as the guys take a little chill out time with the slow and moody “All Is Lost”. It’s a change of pace and shows a different side to the band, at least for the first half of the track anyway, which will keep them free of the one-trick pony status. It’s not out of place on the album but it is certainly walking a different path to the other seven tracks on offer.
Every track is over the 6 minute mark, with one well over the 10 minute mark and another clocking in at just under 10 minutes. This could open up accusations of “padding the songs out”, to the non-believer, however, this is not the case. There are many subtle intricacies that will get picked up on repeated listens and the ebb and flow of the compositions and sheer craftmanship on display makes it never anything less than progressively captivating.
Whilst “Gates of Sanity” and “Sorrow Made Flesh” provide the kind of aural Usain Bolt-paced dark, twisted imagery that the album cover may suggest lies therein the truest unpolished gem amongst an album full of diamonds is the title track “Death Be Thy Shepherd”. This track may well be their signature track for years to come and is certainly a set closer to die for. It fiery verses and shout-it-out chorus, not unlike Volbeat, makes it a perfect statement as to where the band are currently at.
If Thrash metal is to survive into the next decade and beyond then bands like Reign Of Fury need to be backed and supported all the way. The Big Four are now getting on. Slayer are intermittent at best and the new album may be the last, Metallica continue to strangle every last drop from their back catalogue at live shows rather than release new music, Anthrax have been revitalised of late but one can never be sure how long it will last . As for Megadeth, currently on line-up number 145, they are the most consistent in terms of releases new albums but trouble is never far from Dave Mustaine’s reach.
This album deserves to put the band right in amongst the key players in the thrash hierarchy as it is easily as good as any thrash album released in the past five years or so. On this form Reign of Fury deserve to begin their claim to the throne. It’s about time Thrash has some new classic tunes and Reign of Fury may well be one of the bands to supply them. They certainly believe so and on this evidence it’s not difficult to see why.
As well as enjoying the glory of old and making the most of the great bands whilst we can the genre needs to look to the future and you, dear reader, would be well advised to place you faith in this UK quintet of terror to lead the charge., horns up and axe’s ready, prepare yourself for the Reign of Fury.
Death Be Thy Shepherd is released on February 27th.
Donnie’s Rating: 9/10
Vocals: Bison Wrathbone
Lead Guitar: Ed Fury
Guitar: Jon Priestly
Bass: Paul Bielby
Drums: Magic Dave
Head over to http://www.reignoffury.co.uk/ for all the information on the band that you need.