Last year, by chance I stumbled across ‘The Lightning Dream,’ the debut full-length album by Fury, an independent British band. I was smitten. The band’s old-school sound – an intoxicating blend featuring a heavy dose of early Maiden, a smattering of accessible thrash elements, and echoes of melodic British metal stalwarts like Toranaga, Onslaught (circa ‘In Search of Sanity’), and Xentrix – resonated with me at a core elemental level. I particularly loved the hoarse but tuneful and emotional vocals of Julian Jenkins, and the inspired twin guitar riffs and harmonies deployed by Jenkins and partner in crime Jake Beesley. There was nothing particularly fancy or innovative about ‘The Lightning Dream’ and it perhaps overstayed its welcome slightly with a 71-minute running time, but the damn thing clicked with me immediately and has stayed with me ever since.
Needless to say, I was over the moon to learn a couple of months ago that Fury had readied a follow-up opus for release, this one entitled ‘Lost in Space.’ I immediately sent some funds (pre-Brexit, sadly, so the exchange rate was less favorable than it is now) to the band to pre-order a copy of the disc. Now that it’s here and I’ve had some time to digest it, I can proclaim ‘Lost in Space’ to be a worthy successor to ‘The Lightning Dream’ on all levels. The band has definitely taken the approach of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Thank heavens. Everything I loved about Fury on ‘The Lightning Dream’ is present in spades on ‘Lost in Space’ as well. The nearly eight-minute title track is emblematic of what Fury are all about. Start with a thoughtful, metaphorical lyric about an intergalactic space traveler who has seen many wonders across a thousand lifetimes, but now the wonder is gone, he doesn’t know where he belongs, and he can’t find his way home. Fuse it to a timeless galloping pure heavy metal riff, a vocal performance that sends shivers down the spine, and a simple but insanely catchy chorus. Add a lengthy instrumental section with unhurried arrangements that allow the song to breathe, topped with guitar harmonies to die for. That’s Fury, in a nutshell. The classic, catchy heavy metal flows strong and proud on songs like the arena-ready “Where the Hammer Falls” (I can’t resist singing along in the “Brothers of Odin stand tall” part in the chorus), the earworm “Star Trippin’” (what an amazing, haunting bridge on that one), the mesmerizing “Sons of War” (as slower tune with another magnificent chorus and poignant lyrics exhorting us to remember those who went off to war and paid the ultimate sacrifice), the magical semi-ballad “Valhalla” (surely this album’s spine-tingling answer to “Brittania” off the last record), and the stellar 13-minute epic finale “A Tale of Silver” (think Maiden’s “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” but with a distinctly pirate twist).
The caveat, if there is one, is that Fury are not afraid to be self-indulgent. Even though their music is largely straightforward, the 10 tunes clock in at a whopping 74 minutes. The band like to lock into a groove and roll with it. They don’t really give a damn about trying to make their songs concise or to the point. I find that mentality refreshing because there’s nothing calculated or contrived about Fury’s approach. They’re obviously not angling for commercial singles or airplay. They just wanna rock. And for the most part, that uncompromising mentality works splendidly. That said, as uncomplicated as their style is, Fury demand patience from the listener, and unquestionably ‘Lost in Space’ is a protracted exercise. I’ll admit that they lost me a little bit with track 9, “Nebula,” a seven-minute instrumental that’s surprisingly laid-back and subdued, for the most part. Overall, though, ‘Lost in Space’ is a triumph of classic, no-frills, timeless British heavy metal. I do not know what it’s going to take for Fury to achieve wider recognition, but it is not a stretch to imagine their music appealing to a broad swath of the metal community, from the Maiden freaks to the keep-it-true retro types to even the power metallers and to anyone who likes no-frills, high-quality melodic heavy metal delivered from the heart. I know Fury have secured a slot at this year’s installment of the prestigious Bloodstock Open Air in England. Perhaps this is a sign of bigger and better things to come. The lads certainly deserve it.
~ Review by Kit Ekman ~