Reign Of Fury: Death Be Thy Shepherd

deathbethyshepherdWhy did all the good metal also have to die when grunge came along and killed hair metal? That’s the question raised by Reign Of Fury’s existence, and the answer is still a resounding, “It didn’t have to. Now let’s fucking rock.” It’s beautiful to hear a British band bringing back New Wave Of British Metal (NWOBM), picking up where Metallica left off when they veered off course to make The Black Album.

In my review of Reign Of Fury’s last album I held back a half-clown rating because, while I heralded the return to 80’s and early 90’s metal, I bemoaned that they weren’t pushing the genre forward in a way that was different from the way it has developed. That was idiotic. Who f’ing cares if it’s moving forward or not when it’s this good? Besides, this time around the band left out the 60 seconds of Cookie Monster vocals, so at least they’re cutting even more of the unfortunate developments of the last 20 years.

In that last review I also said that I thought they really didn’t outdo Metallica, Testament, et al. And, fine, maybe they still don’t, but I will put this right up there with the best of that era. This album is damned near perfect. It slips shy of five clowns by being a bit unnecessarily lengthy in parts. More specifically, I feel like the last verse often doesn’t add much to the build of the song. If you’re always going at 100 MPH, you don’t get much of a feel for the acceleration phase. And yet their main attempt at slowing down and having a huge build, “All Is Lost,” leaves me flat until the big build.

But again, who f’ing cares? This is the best thrash-heavy metal I’ve heard since, say, …And Justice For All and Rust In Peace. And some of these Really Likes might be Loves, but why get hung up on nitpicks when I could just be rock horning, head banging, and air guitaring? RAWK.

Rating:
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Mix: “Hypnotize The Masses”
Love: “Death Be Thy Shepherd
Really Like: “Faustian Mastery,” “Harbinger Of Decay,” “Gates Of Sanity,” “All Is Lost,” “The Love Of A Dying God”
Song Notes: After the jump Continue reading

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Fat Clown’s Best Albums Of 2013

I only reviewed three 2013 albums in 2013 itself, but have reviewed four more since 2014 began. So I’m going to bend my normal rules and include those here, where I present the seven best albums of 2013.

1.5 Clowns

7. Pearl Jam – Lighting Bolt
Pearl Jam’s worst album, hands down.

2 Clowns
6. The Airborne Toxic Event – Such Hot Blood
My how the mighty have fallen, as most of these songs are complete snoozers.

5. Four Tet – Beautiful Rewind
A mixed bag of bleeps and bloops. So close and yet so far from being a very good album.

3.5 Clowns
4. Alice In Chains – The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here
I remember liking this four clowns worth. I must have reviewed during a critical phase. Anyway, Alice In Chains has still got it, and there are a few excellent tracks here.

4 Clowns
3. Reign Of Fury – World Detonation
As long as we’re going to revisit pop of the 1980’s under the guise of hipster alternative, let’s bring back mid-80’s thrash as well.

2. Lucius – Wildewoman
Would have benefited from better production, but out of the current crop of Brooklyn hipster music, this has some of the best songs. Both of these four clown reviews were gifts from KEN.

4.5 Clowns
1. Polyrhytmics – Libra Stripes
Surprising no one, my new favorite band, the funksters from Seattle, Polyrhythmics, takes home the best album of 2013.

Reign Of Fury: World Detonation

You could look at this album’s cover art, listen to the record, and be forgiven for thinking that it was circa 1988. Lyrics and artwork about nuclear holocaust, anthropomorphic demon on the cover, sharply-pointed font, and eight roughly five- to eight-minute thrash rhapsodies…apart from a minute or so of Cookie Monster death metal vocals, Reign Of Fury makes no effort to incorporate anything from the last 25 years into their 2013 release.

And that’s all good because the album’s all good. I mean, it’s a bit weird that you would look back at 80’s era Testament and Metallica and think, “Yeah, we can outdo that.” Because, no, you can’t, and no, this doesn’t. But still, this proves that there are a ton of great songs from that canon that haven’t been written yet and, hell, let’s go ahead and release them as an album. They do a hell of a job with it and I can’t find much to criticize.

It’s good enough that I’m tempted to give it 4.5 clowns, but…well, I feel you could avoid veering into theĀ faster/darker/eviller/lessMelodicer tunnel that metal’s gone down in the past two decades and still find some way to move the genre forward. With their debut album, they’ve shown that they mastered the genre as it was at its apex. I’ll be here for their next releases to see if they can show us a better way forward for metal from that point than that which we’ve taken.

One lingering question I have is whether or not this is a Christian rock band. I can’t find any explicit evidence that they are, but there’s an awful lot of discussion of God and Jesus and heaven and hell in the lyrics (see song notes below for more). Of course, with metal, it’s tough to tell, because you can write about gods, sacrifice, death, war, legends, seven sons, elven rings, and so on, even before you get to Revelations-style stuff, and it can still sound very cool as long as it’s not super overt. (For overt, see Tourniquet.)

Rating:
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– “Infernal Conflict,” “Envy The Dead,” “Heaven Awaits – Hell Takes,” “Born To Die,” “World Detonation,” “Vile Submission,” “The Hound”
– “Goodbye Mother Earth”
Filed Between: Steve Reich (You Are (Variations)) and Brian Reitzell (30 Days Of Night Soundtrack)
Song Notes: After the jump
Continue reading