I first encountered Reign of Fury as they organised and headlined the first Headbangers’ Balls tour a couple of years back, and thoroughly enjoyed their impressive set in Glasgow. I stayed in touch, followed their news and was excited to hear they had a second album out early in 2015. Even more excited when an advance copy landed in my mailbox last week.
As a preview to the preview, I was sent a copy of track 2, “Harbinger of Decay”. I was hooked on the first listen. Reign of Fury bill themselves as a thrash band, but they fall into the “latter day” category where frenetic speed isn’t the be all and end all, it’s just one string to their metallic bow. Actually, think of the Anthrax track “Be All, End All”. Anthrax are a thrash band, yes? Was that song particularly fast? No. Was it still fucking awesome? Sure it was.
In fact, I’d say State of Euphoria was the album that had Anthrax reach a state of maturity. Expanding their boundaries, eclectic as they already were, and giving a by-then overcrowded genre a new twist. Reign of Fury have hit this maturity milestone with Death Be Thy Shepherd, only their second outing.
Mixing lengthy tracks a-la And Justice with Maiden-esque guitar solos and a vocal range one would associate with Chuck Billy the band prove they’re not a one-trick pony out to live off an idealised version of music from thirty years ago. No, they’re spray-painting their own mark on the thrash brickwork – in bright, bloody colours.
When I say lengthy tracks, by the way, I’m not kidding. Opener “Faustian Mastery” is a shade under ten minutes, while the title track which closes the album is over ten minutes. Thing is, like Metallica’s opuses they don’t drag. There’s too much variety and well-crafted music in there for you to get bored.
The “shorter” tracks (almost all over six minutes) are every bit as good. From “Hypotise the Masses”‘ choppy rhythms to the neck-breaking fury of “Sorrow Made Flesh”, there’s nary a dull moment.
“All Is Lost” is the odd ball out, if such a label is fair. Predominantly a ballad with thrashy interludes culminating in something far faster-paced, it’s a decent enough effort and – though a bit out of place on first listen – shows that the band are happy to experiment. Honestly, I think it’s paid off this time.
At the moment, Reign of Fury are asking £10-£12 for this beast, depending where you pre-order it. Go to bigcartel and they’ll even sign it and throw some badges in for you. Bargain.
Death Be Thy Shepherd is released on February 27th