Gig Review: Fury / Rites to Ruin – Level III, Swindon (25th March 2022)

Waking up the morning after this gig to the news that one of the rock world’s higher profile and talented members had passed through the shadow of mortality over the previous night of joy and excitement. A reminder that we are all here for but a moment, and each second counts. An RIP then to Taylor Hawkins, who was on tour when he died, a man who no doubt had his demons but who was out doing what he loved most. Making live music. And that is where my somewhat rambling intro is moving towards. For this was the first night of a tour that Fury had been waiting for since April 2020, when they had just released The Grand Prize, the world ground to a halt and any thoughts of being able to do what they would normally do, promote the album across the UK and Europe  disappeared quicker than you could say “Hands, Face, Space” (or any of the more humorous variations on that theme!). Sporadic gigs through 2021 including a last-minute appearance at Bloodstock Festival brought hope before more restrictions. I caught the band at their pre-Christmas show in Bristol, a show where the audience were somewhat subdued, in part due to the mask mandate no doubt. Between then and now, we’ve had more music in the shape of the fabulous Born to Sin, released a week before this gig which you should hear if you haven’t already. You can read the review here.

I’ve not been to the Level III venue before. Swindon isn’t high on my list of places to visit and a few hours in the town before the gig didn’t exactly stir the desire for a further visit anytime soon. Thankfully it was live music that was the reason for the visit rather than any tourist pursuits. Level III is to The Rolleston Arms and accessed via a separate entrance. Drop down a flight of stairs and you find the stage and main floor situated high in front of you with a large bar and plenty of room for the bands to display their merchandise. It’s a decent place with a clean sound that aided the music of both bands.

If you’ve not heard of Rites to Ruin, then you may want to address that as a matter of urgency. The band fronted by former Triaxis singer Krissie Kirby are slowly gaining momentum after the pandemic. The band released their debut EP Fire in 2021, and unsurprisingly all four songs from the EP featured in the setlist along with the treat of two new pieces of music. A brisk intro and opening and RTR were off and into their stride without any problem. The dual guitars give the band a classic heavy metal edge, with Iron Maiden often the band I’d cite as an influence. That would need to be caveated though, for this isn’t a group who are without their own sound. Far from it. Krissie’s stunning voice brings a unique and contemporary flavour to RTR’s music. It was often the case that she had to hold the microphone far away to avoid deafening the audience or blowing the mic!

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Having had the EP on repeat for many months now, it was the new songs that piqued the interest most and they didn’t disappoint. ‘Free’ sounded brilliant, with a lusciously deep melody and flow. ‘In Search of Gold’ (I think) is based on what Krissie described as “beautiful nerds” and their pastimes. Whilst reference to D&D and LARPing passed me by, the song is another well sculpted piece and it’ll be interesting to hear how it fleshes out in future shows. Rites to Ruin are putting the effort into their performance and this was a composed and polished affair with plenty of time for smiles and even a bit of larking around. Who said metal couldn’t be fun! Closing with the combination of  “Rise” and “Fire”, which included a delightful segue between the songs, this was another solid show from a band that hold much promise. More music, more shows, and more of everything please!!

Bursting to get back to what they do best, Fury grabbed this first night of their tour with both hands and gave it a really good shake. I’m sure that come May they will be smoother, more polished, and even faster. This was a performance needed to clean the pipes, get the engine ticking over and moving towards top speed. Don’t get me wrong, Fury don’t do bad shows, and this was a thoroughly entertaining 90 minutes.

Unsurprisingly, Fury based the bulk of their set from the two albums that this tour is promoting and as a result there may have been a couple of fan favourites now relegated to the subs bench. When you have an album as strong as Born to Sin then you need to give it as much exposure opportunity as possible. This was what it was all about. Fury bookended the set with “If You Get To Hell First” and closed with a blisteringly heavy “Born to Sin”, mirroring the order on the album. The meat in this mighty sandwich was dripping with the new Fury sound. Heavier and yet more melodic with Nyah Ifall’s backing vocals now an integral part of the band and their sound the better for it.

Rhythm has never been an issue for Fury, with the lower end locked in by the bass skills of Becky Baldwin and drummer Tom Fenn, whose explosive drum solo towards the end was at the higher end of the quality scale. With the engine room supported by singer Julian Jenkins’ epic rhythm guitar skills, it was open season for guitarist Jake Elwell to shred. Ironically, the side bars of the stage make it look like he was being kept in a cage for much of the show, occasionally breaking loose to take centre stage.

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Whilst Born to Sin took the ear, tracks from The Grand Prize, now very familiar to most fans were also on the menu and songs like “The World is Mine”, “Galactic Prize” and “Burnout” were superbly delivered. Even “Upon the Lonesome Tide”, which took the temperature down a couple of degrees, and which allowed Jenkins to give those incredible pipes full reign worked well.

Whilst the audience seemed hesitant to get too close to the stage, many content to hang back around the bar, Fury gave this show as much power as that Bloodstock show last August. And that’s the main thing that makes this band so impressive. Their commitment to a performance with quality and energy regardless of who is in front of them. They deserve exposure to much wider audiences. Whilst this more intimate show is great, Fury should be more widely appreciated. Check out Born to Sin, and if the band are playing in your town, get along to the gig. You won’t regret seeing on of the finest UK metal bands around today.

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