Archive for independent

Reign Of Fury – Death Be Thy Shepherd

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on 8th February 2015 by Paul Macmillan

Reign Of Fury
Death Be Thy Shepherd
Release: 27th February 2015
Thrash metal
Self released

Reign Of Fury - Death Be Thy Shepherd

I love thrash! Always have, always will! However, the resurgence of its popularity in the last decade or so has seen an ocean of filler unleashed on the world. It was a disappointing end result to say the least: song writing was ditched by the wayside in favour of constant imitation of the genre’s founding bands, sometimes note for note. The whole scene seemed to have been hi-jacked by a strange breed of hipsters who sneered at any hint of originality, swamping the web with derogatory nonsense, should a thrash band stray from the path in any way.

I’m thankful to say that, on their second album, Death Be Thy Shepherd, Midlands mob Reign Of Fury continue to turn their backs and raise a firm middle-finger to such unfounded buffoonery. From the very first track, Faustian Mastery, you can almost smell the words ‘Don’t give a f***!’ wafting through the air. While ROF comfortably incorporate the essence of the original thrash movement, they deftly side-step the ‘re-thrash’ tag, indulging the influence of both its roots and its later development.

Snatches reminiscent of Megadeth’s Countdown To Extinction twist into Maiden like guitar harmonies. For those of you who stuck with Anthrax throughout their discography, this release will feel like a new home for your ears, although I’m also sensing the air of personal favourite and underrated Arizonans Flotsam & Jetsam sneaking into the axe work. There is plenty of diversity herein, the vocals even venturing into extremely well executed death metal vocals in Gates Of Sanity, which batters its way through an ultimately addictive chorus and musical flavours only found in the Testament cookbook.

It’s a unique musical personality for sure, but one that wears its influences with unashamed pride. If Jeff Waters, Nick Menza, Alex Skolnick, Peavy Wagner and John Bush stepped out of the past together to show the young uns how to write an album, it might not sound too different to this.

It must be a challenge to go against the grain when putting out music which is to any degree retro. As I mentioned to begin with, there will be a certain number of detractors if it isn’t a carbon copy of the original style. However, if you’re having as much fun and care as little about those opinions as this lot seem to, it doesn’t seem like something that would be a chore. Without losing track of their roots, Reign Of Fury have managed to seal the deal on a fresh sounding long player which is absolutely thrash, absolutely relevant, and an absolute neck-snapper! Top drawer stuff!

5/5

Paul Macmillan

Shadowquest – Armoured IV Pain

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on 8th February 2015 by Mickelrath

Shadowquest
Armoured IV Pain
Power metal
Release date: 20th February 2015
Self-release

Shadowquest is the the new power metal band started by former Dionysus members Ronny Milianowicz & Kaspar Dahlqvist. The band also features Patrik Johansson (Bloodbound and Dawn Of Silence), Peter Huss (Sinergy & Issa), Jari Kainulainen (Stratovarius, Symfonia, Evergrey & Masterplan) & Ragnar Widerberg (Witherscape).  With all those names on your side you’d expect the album to sound great!  Well let’s take a look.

The album itself is a very strong release. “Armoured IV Pain”, carries a lot of great attributes that make for a power metal record such as: soaring vocals, great guitar work, atmospheric keyboard and much more goes into making this one enjoyable album.  Right from the opening track “Blood of the Pure”  I was injected with amazing use of lyrical imagery and a great sense of presence and tone.  Not a second of time is wasted on the record, and I don’t mean they just play and they allow time for the atmosphere to set in and for the listener to fully grasp the themes and concepts being presented.  At times this album feels like an old school Judas Priest or Dio album, it like they mixed all the best part of old and new metal and just blended them together.

Speaking of old school there is a really well handled cover of Judas Priest’s iconic classic “Freewheel Burning” but really they don’t change enough from the original to make it stand out on it’s own, and if you’re not going to cover a classic song in your own way way then why should I, the listener, care about your version? I might as well listen to Judas Priest.  That’s actually a major problem with this record, there may be great lyrical imagery, and cool guitar solos but it’s nothing I can’t get from someone else.  What separates them from the like of Sonata Arctica or Edguy or Firewind?  What can I get from Shadowquest that I can’t from other power metal bands?  The answer is very little.  In this genre you have to have your own independant voice otherwise you’ll lose out to the competition.

Overall, if you like power metal you’ll probably like this record just fine. Don’t get me wrong I had fun with the album but it’s quite easy to get bored with it.  It has some rather impressive moments but not enough in its execution for people who aren’t familiar with this music, or even the ones who are, to say “hey, this band sounds like nothing else”.  It’s great, well polished and very fun. I recommend it, but, with a disclaimer, if you’re expecting something brand new, you won’t find it here.  However, if you’re just looking for something else to throw in to your power metal play list then I say go check it out.

3/5

Mick Birchall