Reign Of Fury - Death Be Thy Shepherd
A great addition to the burgeoning British thrash scene
Heavy metal was invented in Britain, Right? So it’s about time we got our noses out of the sweaty arse crevices of the good ol’ US of A and sniff out the abundance of talent residing on our own sweet isle. I’m talking Evile, Sylosis, Savage Messiah and Reign of Fury, bitches! And that’s not all. Seek and you shall find. There’s a burgeoning British thrash scene right now so no excuses.
And so, planting their skinny jeans and hi-top trainers firmly between And Justice For All and The Black Album era Metallica come Midlands thrash titans, Reign of Fury. This is their sophomore outing, Death Be Thy Shepherd and it is a fucking blinder! It’s not reinventing the wheel, sure, but it is the kind of dedicated, tight musicianship beloved of metal fans that will kick you square in the nads harder than a pissed off, club-footed rhino who’s just heard you’re shagging his missus.
With eight songs clocking in at just shy of an hour, Death Be Thy Shepherd is a long ‘un with the shortest track romping in at just under six minutes. That should give you an idea of the scope of this LP. By it’s very nature it should defy commercial success but there are so many hook in mouth riffs all over this album that rock radio stations could and should lap this up. Bison’s vocals are accessible enough to break through to the mainstream and there are enough ‘gang vocals’ to ensure enthusiastic crowd feedback when played live. Stick-in-your-head choruses guarantee quick familiarity with the songs and strong melodic structures permeate the heaviness throughout. Outstanding technical ability and riff writing that is both inspired and faultless is a signature of this long-player and, indeed, there is nothing on here that won’t drive the genre forward even though stylistically it does look to past thrash glories.
Jon Priestley blazes and Ed Westlake earns his ‘Fury’ nickname with his contribution of ripping, throat-slicing leads but also earning their keep are Magic Dave and Paul Bielby with their enviably tight rhythm section. It takes very skilled musicians to hold down tracks of this scope and magnitude and they all need to be applauded for their individual efforts across DBTS.
All is Lost is the one track that's most obviously going to draw Metallica comparisons but it is a stunning track nonetheless. But, facing facts, it has been 23 years since the M boys wrote anything close to this good so it's a winner for me. The intro riff to The Love of a Dying God is as good a riff as you’ll ever hear and builds the track up nicely. Colossal title track Death Be Thy Shepherd brings things to an epic close. It stands victorious, all enemies slain and no prisoners taken.
It’s an album that not only Reign of Fury themselves can be proud of but something we as Brits can be proud of too. So when the Iron Maidens, The Sabbaths of Black and the Priests of Judas hang up their danglies we should hopefully have enough talent to keep the metal flame alive in Britain. But we as fans and warriors of METAL have got to get behind the scene and this is as good a place to start. So dive in. If you haven't already, that is!
Words: Paul Cookey