Furyon – Gravitas – Review

(Frontiers Records – Release data 3/27/12)

From the opening crushing cords of “Disappear Again” the feel of this album is simply of a band that “knows” they have got “it” – yes, that indefinable “it” quality is here and not in any small measure either. Many debut albums come across delivering promise but with mixed messages in direction and/or style, but I don’t detect any of that here. You could easily be forgiven for thinking this was the third or fourth album from the band, such is the consistency and quality of the overall product.

Partly I suspect the vibe on the record is is a function of an exceptional production job by Rick Beato (Shinedown/Fozzy) who has given the album a sound that is crisply modern, but with a feel of any of the classic metal records from the 80’s. Every instrument and vocal has a clear place in the mix, but overall the result is akin to sitting in front of a 747 at take-off power… this is a recording packed with power and isn’t afraid to let it loose.

Strangely this is another band I have a personal connection with from the mists of time (ok, we’re really talking mid/late-80’s here), back in the UK. The whole story would take a blog-post in itself, so I’ll keep it short-ish… Around 1987-88 I was playing guitar in a band called “Strikly Wicked”. The drummer was Rick Eade (I think he went by Ricky Stix back then!), who ended up in “Pride”, a band which had an important part in the founding of Furyon – both Chris Green (guitar/Furyon) and Matt Mitchell (vocals/Furyon) were founding members of Pride. Chris and Matt used to come and watch Strikly Wicked, and Chris has certainly offered some very flattering comments regarding our influence on him around that time. Clearly things have worked out musically rather better for Chris than they did for myself! Anyway, that’s enough reminiscing for now.

The album opens with “Disappear Again” which very nicely sums up most of what is critical to know about Furyon – crushing guitars from Chris Green and Pat Heath, both delivering amazing lead work with a dual-guitar attack that most bands can only dream of, Matt Mitchell on vocals who has evolved on this album to deliver some supremely crafted work, Alex “Nickel” Bowen on bass who holds the band’s foundation down with some class playing, while Lee Farmery delivers a pounding rhythm section on the drums. Put together you have an amazing collection of musicianship and none of this is held back as far as I see; Furyon have come out with all guns blazing.

While “Disappear Again” could easily be the first single from this record, the pace doesn’t let up with the second track, “Stand Like Stone”, which has an almost Dio-like riff intro, well Dio on speed perhaps. So other reviewers have drawn parallels to Alice In Chains and Alter Bridge amongst others, but personally I see older more classic roots, and in this case I would tend toward Led Zeppelin (riff-wize at least, but somewhat supercharged).

Now, the third track takes us into much more progressive territory, with traces of Queensryche to my ears, but with a much more melodic vocal dressing. Here we see the band stretch their leg’s with a track clocking in at a touch over 8 minutes. For me, I never really noticed the length. The middle-eight/bridge section builds a nice tension to the guitar solo, and both tasteful and shred-riffic; certainly any aspiring guitarists would do no wrong in looking at what both Chris and Pat are doing on any of the tracks on the CD.

I will restrain myself from commenting on every track; if you want the play-by-play coverage go buy the album yourself, but I can’t resist the haunting intro of seventh track, “Fear Alone”. This has an almost film-score like feel, atmospheric, yet threatening. What comes next is a massively majestic Zeppelin-esq/Deep Purple style riff for the pre-verse that I can only imagine washing over the audience at some massive festival like Download or Wacken. It would be huge…

Jumping ahead another couple of tracks, “Our Peace Someday” seems to me to be another track crying out to be a massive radio hit. Every time I hear this it draws me in and I am a huge fan of Matt’s vocal on this track.

It always seems like a good idea to have a strong closer on any record, but Furyon have saved what may perhaps be the best for last with “Desert Suicide”. This track just builds on everything we have been treated to up to this point. This is progressive metal at it’s most accessible, with lightly drifting verses, which snap into amazingly powerful pre-chorus/chorus sections. Throughout the guitar work is exceptional, with nothing held back, that is until we get to the solo where there is some just beautiful fluid playing going on here. Matt though is the star of this track. His emotion and character just take command, and we climb from an almost whisper, to a soaring scream of pure soul-rending energy.

So, all too soon the ride is over, and I am left wanting more. Knowing this record has been available as an independent release for a year or so prior to being picked up by Frontiers, I can only imagine what new material is coming in the follow-up record. However it would be unfair if I left the impression that there is no room to grow here, because there is. The one criticism I return to on repeated listens is the lack of that one knockout track. While “Desert Suicide” is an amazing epic, and there are candidates for singles, what we need on the next record is a track that no matter what you just can’t get the damn thing out of your head. From what we have here it is no stretch at all to see that coming, but the risk is, without, I could see the band settling down to become another very successful progressive metal band in the larger club venue scene, but not where I believe they deserve – headlining stadiums and festivals.

Furyon have delivered one of the best debut records from any ‘new’ band in years with Gravitas. What comes next is the defining moment for them.

My score: 9/10 and a definite buy for any metal fan.

See: http://www.furyon.net/

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