Review by Cat A
I remember that I once said to someone in a bar that I haven’t heard any good new Thrash in an age, and that was mostly because a lot of people who attempt it think that mashing guitar strings as quickly as possible is what makes something Thrash. Reign of Fury have something of a reputation on the Metal scene for putting on a stonking live show, but have they got what it takes to put together a decent album?
If you want the simple answer, skip to the bottom of this review, but for those who want to know more about what they’re getting in for then read on…
It all starts off sounding a little bit doomy and distorted as Faustian Mastery sets the initial atmosphere and I can’t help myself here, I’m anticipating the moment that the tempo heats up. Boy, I am not disappointed as the layers blend over each other to make a brilliantly crafted, well balanced and highly driven track, interspersed with sections that are just crying out for a crowd to be filling in the gaps at the tops of their lungs with fists in the air. Melodic chorus, heavy guitars, thundering drum track and tight-as-hell instrumentals; this track has it all and we’re still only on number 1! All 9 minutes and 22 seconds of track one, but at no point am I tempted to press the spin on button, which is something of a miracle for someone with my attention span.
Bonus points there boys!
Can the next one live up to the now heightened expectations? Without a doubt yes. If at all possible Harbinger of Decay is even catchier. It’s filled with cleverly written harmonies and breakdowns, which had me completely undecided whether I wanted to headbang, throw my arms in the air or dance around the kitchen grinning from ear to ear (on my first listen through I *was* dancing round the kitchen… there is photographic evidence).
It’s straight on to more classic Thrash sounds with Hypnotise The Masses – though there’s something of a punky feel to the chorus of this one which is never a bad thing in my book.
The pace just keeps on, and it’s finally All Is Lost that calms it down with a very Metallica-esque effort that has managed to get a lump in my throat every single time that I’ve listened to it (I think the count is currently 8).
The Love of a Dying God brings back the heavy as hell that never really goes away until the CD runs out at the end of the title track. Speaking of which, Death Be Thy Shepherd comes as a spectacular finale. If I had to pick just one song from this album to introduce someone to Reign of Fury then the title track from this very album would be the one. It’s a monster of a song, and not just because it’s ten and a half minutes long. It’s catchy, it’s driving, and its over all too soon.
I think that it’s safe to say that Reign of Fury are here to stay, and if they keep up the energy then when someone asks that awful question of “who will be headlining the big festivals in a decade?” (normally right after James Hetfield‘s age comes up) then in my opinion you couldn’t be a million miles away from the mark if you were to mention these guys as a possibility. Death Be Thy Shepherd is a true classic Thrash record which just happens to have been made three decades after the start of that movement. There are all the key elements that a Thrash Metal fan expects from an album without any of it feeling forced or that it has been put in simply to satisfy the equation (one of my pet hates). There is enough originality that you won’t be left feeling as though it’s a straight off imitation of so much music gone before. There’s also plenty of hooks and melodic sections that will serve to bring a new generation to the genre.
The short answer you were looking for? Undoubtedly Reign of Fury know their business, and their business is Thrash. If you find yourself getting excited by the words “Big Four” then give this part of the new breed a chance and you won’t be disappointed.
I’ll just be over here, hitting Repeat All.