Reign of Fury - World detonation 4/5
1. Goodbye mother earth
2. Infernal conflict
3. Envy the dead
4. Heaven waits/Hell takes
5. Born to die
6. World detonation
7. Vile submission
8. The hound
When people think of classic thrash, they typically gravitate towards either the Bay Area or the German variant of the genre. Often overlooked in the melee is the British species of thrash that enjoyed a brief period in the sun in the late 80s and early 90s. Bands like Toranaga, Onslaught (during the ‘The force’ and ‘In search of sanity’ period), Xentrix, D.A.M. and Sabbat were doing something that didn’t sound exactly like the sort of thrash coming out of any other scene. Sure, it featured the skull-crushing riffs and galloping rhythms that the likes of Kreator and Exodus were popularizing, but it had a melodic edge and regal character that was distinctly and unequivocally British.
This brings me to Reign of Fury, a 5-piece act hailing from Tewkesbury, England that follows proudly in this British melodic thrash tradition. The band independently released a 4-track EP, ‘Psycho intentions’, in 2011, then followed it up with an 8-song full-length debut, ‘World detonation’, earlier this year. While the Ed Repka-inspired cover art is derivative and unimaginative, the same cannot be said of the contents of the CD. This ain’t no disposable, cookie-cutter, dime-a-dozen re-thrash release. Reign of Fury have deftly distinguished themselves from the faceless hordes by infusing their thrash with a boatload of catchy guitar melodies (including overtly Iron Maiden/NWOBHM-style traditional metal parts) and a singer (Matt “Bison” Steed) who provides lead vocals that are both powerful and far more tuneful/charismatic than those of your typical thrash screamer. Paradoxically, Reign of Fury don’t confine their sound to the musty, dusty 80s style either, as there are nods to modern metal (check out the occasional growlies punctuating “Envy the dead” and “Heaven waits/Hell takes”, for example) and even Europrean power metal in some of the bigger melodic sections (like the lead break in “Born to die”, which has just a whiff of Dragonforce kitsch). One song even has a beautiful “Crystal Ann”-style acoustic guitar passage like Jeff Waters used to do so masterfully in the good ol’ days.
Lest you get the wrong idea, let me be clear that ‘World detonation’ is not one of those CDs that bounces all over the map, trying to be all things to all metalheads. The core of Reign of Fury’s sound is very firmly in the realm of melodic old-school thrash. The other influences are there, but only as accents that spice up the proceedings without distracting from the band’s focus and power in the slightest. Believe me, it works really well as a cohesive whole throughout the CD’s 49-minute running time. From a songwriting standpoint, too, Reign of Fury have struck paydirt. The band excels at straightforward, no-frills 4-5 minute adrenalin rushes like “Infernal conflict” and “Born to die”, as well as extended 8-9 minute workouts like “World detonation” and “The hound”. On all of these songs, the band skillfully weaves punishing thrash riffs into punchy guitar harmonies, sterling vocal melodies and memorable choruses. I find myself in a quandary when I listen to this CD because I don’t know whether I should be playing air guitar or singing along at the top of my lungs. So I do both. The neighbors may hate it, and the wife may scratch her head in puzzlement, but I’m happier than a witch in a broom factory.
I think ‘World detonation’ would appeal to a broad swath of the heavy metal faithful from a range of subgenres. Most thrashers should find enough speed and aggression to slake their thirst. Most Keep-It-True types will be enamored of the Maidenisms, the catchy choruses, and the clean vocals that are not so far removed from the Twisted Tower Dires, Katanas, Strikers, and Enforcers of the world. And even a goodly number of power metal fans and modern metal types may find themselves impressed if they’ll take the time to listen with an open mind. The bad news is that, to date, ‘World detonation’ is very difficult to find, at least outside of the U.K.. My Mosh Tuneage/Good Life pressing appears to have been self-released by the band. The good news is that the savvy talent evaluators over at Stormspell Records have discovered the glory and might that is Reign of Fury, and will be licensing/reissuing (not sure which) ‘World detonation’ in the coming weeks, which should do wonders for its availability on American shores. Look for it. If you’re not convinced, go on Youtube and watch the band’s video for the track “World detonation” (sadly it’s an edited version of the song, but it’s definitely enough to give you a flavor). If you’re not rocking out by the time he gets to the “I’ve seen the future and it’s only gonna get worse” part, then just go back to memorizing the lyric sheet in your copy of the new Taylor Swift CD and leave the rest of us alone.
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