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Furyon - 'Gravitas' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     September 20, 2010    
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Furyon's first tentative steps towards superstardom.

I remember when I first stumbled upon Brighton based melodic rockers Pride supporting Danny Vaughn in a tiny pub in Limerick, and I was hooked immediately, and even now to this day I still think that they were one of the best bands to ever emerge from the UK. They were formed by ex- Balance Of Power keyboardist Ivan Gunn, and appeared in the early part of the decade with debut album ‘Far From The Edge.’ After recording the follow-up ‘Signs Of Purity’ Gunn departed, leaving the band in the hands of vocalist Matt Mitchell and guitarist Chris Green. Although sales of the albums were limited, Pride would gain a healthy following in the rock community, culminating in appearances at the last ‘Gods’ festival, and the first ever Firefest show, both in Bradford. The band thrived in the live environment, partly down to Mitchell’s warm, raspy tones and easy-going rapport with the audience, and the guitar heroics of Chris Green, who is surely one of the most talented players this country has ever produced – the fact that he has more recently performed with the likes of Nelson, Firehouse and Scrap Metal underlining this. Unfortunately, the release of ‘Signs Of Purity’ was severely delayed, and while writing ensued for a third album, the songs that materialized were pursuing a much heavier direction, influenced partly by the shifting music scene, and the emergence of bands such as Nickelback. The guys decided that rather than take Pride in a new direction the best course of action would be to disband, but the trio of Mitchell, Green and bassist Simon Farmery stuck together, and would soon enlist Simon’s cousin Lee Farmery on drums, and Furyon was born. They released the ’32 Hours’ EP in 2006, displaying a heavy groove rock sound, but then Simon left the band to relocate to the U.S.A. After recruiting Alex ‘Nickel’ Bowen to replace him, Furyon began writing in earnest, and the songs would become tighter, darker and even heavier in nature with some progressive touches, and the result is the aptly-titled debut album ‘Gravitas’, which is Latin for weight and heaviness, and also refers to substance and dignity. While Chris Green was working with Kip Winger in Scrap Metal, he mentioned that Furyon were casting around for a producer to give their songs a huge, American Rock Radio sound, and Winger recommended Rick Beato (Shinedown, Fozzy, Bullet For My Valentine.) After listening to the material, Beato was impressed enough to invite the band out to his Atlanta studio to record the album, and rewarded Furyon with that huge radio sound that they yearned for. And since recording the album they have added a second lead guitarist in ex Brave New World / Danny Vaughn band shredder Pat Heath, which is going to give them an even more dramatic sound in the future. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I initially approached this review with some trepidation, because as I was such a huge Pride fan this new heavier direction may not be entirely to my satisfaction, and I also wanted to remain impartial. But I needn’t have worried…

While Furyon’s music is generally much heavier than Pride, it’s not actually a million miles away from the bands previous incarnation. You only have to go back and listen to the harder and more dramatic tracks such as ‘This Time’ and ‘Still Raining’ to see that the guys have always had this type of music inside them. However, now it has been adapted to be more compatible with the current musical climate. The sing-along choruses and huge backing vocals are a thing of the past, instead the sound is now influenced by the likes of Alterbridge and Creed and a touch of Black Stone Cherry on the commercial side, and adding elements of Mastodon and Tool, even hints of Dream Theater, and a slightly grungy feel akin to Soundgarden. But most importantly, the band have not forgotten that the song is still king, and the melodies are still intact, if just a little more subtle, and requiring maybe a little more attention before the hooks truly reveal themselves. Chris Green’s guitar riffs may be denser and harder than before, but as far as solos go, his is still given free rein to explore every inch of his fretboard, but always respecting the song and not overdoing it. And as for Matt Mitchell’s voice, the husky tones have been replaced by a powerful yelp not too far from Chris Cornell, which suits the new direction perfectly.

As rousing opener ‘Disappear Again’ demonstrates, it’s possible to be heavy, dramatic and melodic all at the same time, it’s the perfect choice for first single, and an animated video has already been created. ‘Stand Like Stone’ follows suit but with a harder tempo and an aggressive riff that brings to mind Alterbridge’s ‘Metalingus’. But it’s the third track ‘Souvenirs’ that sees the band really spreading their musical wings; a dense, sprawling riff over a furious yet slow grinding beat, and an intense vocal spiralling the song over eight minutes, it can only be described as progressive grunge, and demonstrates just how much the songwriting has developed. As with these three tracks, the remainder of the album is pretty much divided into two styles, the more straightforward rock, or lengthy, thoughtful progressive pieces. For the former, ‘Don’t Follow’ has a seventies retro style with a dirty guitar riff, ‘Voodoo Me’ is the oldest song on offer, harking back to Furyon’s early groove rock days – and as for groove, we’re talking Grand Canyon here, but it doesn’t sound out of place with the newer material. And ‘Wasted On You’ just plain rocks, but with some neat guitar / drum interplay on the intro and solo. As for the more in-depth material, the dark ‘Fear Alone’ begins gently with some melancholy guitar work, before building to an intense, crawling, heavy monster reminiscent of Metallica. ‘Our Peace Someday’ is a meandering ballad that has echoes of early Shinedown, and the closing eight minutes of ‘Desert Suicide’ has everything, gentle haunting passages, huge bombastic riffs, jaw-dropping guitar solo, and an impassioned vocal performance from Mitchell. But it’s ‘New Way Of Living’ that is the standout for me, it’s a dramatic mid-tempo bruiser with a chorus that burrows into your head, and has over two minutes of guitar solo from Chris Green that begins with melody and power, then escalates into an absolute shred-fest, I just can’t emphasize how talented this guy is.

The bottom line is that this is Furyon taking the first tentative steps towards superstardom. What they have created here is nothing sort of spectacular. It is initially available direct from the band themselves with a view to a full release later this year, but in fact it’s a travesty that a major Label hasn’t already snapped them up. Slots on the Bloodstock and Hard Rock Hell festivals later this year will certainly do the band no harm, and will hopefully culminate in some serious Label attention. Given the right promotion ‘Gravitas’ could be a dark horse for album of the year. Do yourself a favour and be there from the beginning, you won’t regret it.

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Ant Heeks

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