Death Be Thy Shepherd by Reign of Fury
Record Label: Self-released
Release Date: 27/2/15 – UK
17/3/15 - US
Bison Steed – Vocals
Jon Priestley – Guitar
Ed Westlake - Guitar
Paul Bielby – Bass
Magic Dave – Drums
Harbinger of Decay
Hypnotise The Masses
Gates of Sanity
All Is Lost
The Love of a Dying God
Sorrow Made Flesh
Death Be Thy Shepherd
Reign Of Fury are a five-piece band from the Midlands of the UK and this is their second full length album with previous release, World Detonation coming out in 2012. For the last two years the band have organised and played on the Headbanger’s Balls tours with all profits going to charity. And yet, somehow, they’ve found time to record a new album and here it is.
There will good news and bad news contained within this review but I’ll start with the good. Putting it bluntly, this album has been one of the easiest to score for a long while (made you look - welcome back!) Now that’s taken care of we can get down to just why it deserves that score.
Opener, “Faustian Mastery” has all the elements that make this album great, including a crunchy guitar sound, brilliant riffs, extended and interesting solos, booming bass lines, great and varied drumming, well used gang vocals, powerful lead vocals and intelligent lyrics. Not bad for track 1!
“Harbinger of Decay” owes more than a small nod to Joey Belladonna-era Anthrax in places with a chorus that will have you singing along after a couple of listens. More excellent guitar work is the icing on the already tasty cake.
The opening to “Hypnotise the Masses” is going to be something to behold live with a riff that wouldn’t be out of place on any of the best Exodus albums. This isn’t a rip-off or steal however, just another influence coming out before the song gains its own identity with an excellent main riff and well-structured chorus.
“Gates of Sanity” utilises that great guitar sound again and has a really good hook to the chorus which will be in your head long after listening. Some great demonic vocals also feature before another top class guitar break. The drums and bass also keep things charging along particularly well on this track.
It’s hard to describe “All Is Lost” without resorting to ridiculous hyperbole but where the rest of the album is excellent, this song is just outstanding! Vocalist, Bison Steed really outdoes himself on this song and sounds uncannily like James Hetfield, enough to make the hairs on your arms stand on end. Like many bands before, Reign Of Fury use the slow start to contrast with the heaviness and speed of the rest of the song to maximum effect. As is now becoming standard on this album, there is a great solo and the running time absolutely flies past. This is a song ANY band would be delighted to have recorded - signed, unsigned, small or massive. Just wow!
To follow that stunning ballad could have been quite a mammoth task but “The Love of a Dying God” does a brilliant job, helped by the fade-in and slightly off-time drumming that makes things just a little bit more interesting. A simple but effective riff follow and intelligent lyrics again feature to good effect.
“Sorrow Made Flesh” is probably Magic Dave’s finest hour (or 5 minutes 49 seconds) on the album as he puts in an excellent performance throughout the song, not just with his pace but also with the variety of his drumming – it’s not all just balls-out speed on display here. This song is probably where the early Metallica influences are the most obvious, with “Creeping Death” in particular coming to mind but it’s only briefly so hardly a rip-off.
Album closer, “Death Be Thy Shepherd” is the longest track but has one of the best and fastest riffs – this band aren’t looking to give themselves an easy time live! The band also display some lovely playing and a great middle section that could have come from any of a number of the best Iron Maiden epics but it works really well in this song and not many bands can pull that off.
The term “old-school thrash” is a perfect starting place to describe Reign Of Fury but is not the end. Yes, there are plenty of influences displayed but when they are bands like Metallica, Anthrax, Exodus and even Iron Maiden then that is not exactly a bad thing. The most important thing though is that those influences are shown incorporated into what becomes, over the course of the album, the Reign Of Fury sound. There’s inventiveness and ideas on display here that bode particularly well for the future and I have a feeling this is just the start. If this album is not in my top five albums of the year on December 31st then I will be amazed. Reign Of Fury deserve to be big and this album is all they need to start that happening. Get a copy now and go and see them on their tour soon.
Oh yes. And the bad news? That’s only really for the band – I’m already looking forward to the next album and how the Hell are you going to top this one guys??