By Ashley Bailey
Something interesting happened whilst I was creating the preliminary draft of this very review; Furyon signed to Frontiers Records. When taking a break from crafting non sequiturs and tangents about how under rated Furyon are, I happened upon an article proclaiming their signing to the Italian label. Today I’ll be reviewing the vanilla Metal Hammer released album but I’m sure the re-release will have fancy packaging, bonus tracks and liner notes.
Gravitas opens with Stand like Stone, a balls-to-the-wall track that places us in the appropriate air strum until you get arthritis mood for the next fifty-one minutes. After a brief atmospheric build up in the introduction the tempo charges forward like the 761st Tank Battalion. Personally I would have swapped this song with Don’t Follow – Stand isn’t a bad song; it has one of the most memorable choruses on the album and a multitude of chunky riffs from Pat and Chris, but unfortunately lacks the vigour required to leave a lasting impact.
Souvenirs is a strange track, it clocks in at slightly over eight minutes but the last section feels entirely unnecessary as it almost perfectly finishes after five. Matt shows the listener exactly what he is capable of here, with some high range vocals and catchy hooks. The bridge section is epic, as the vocals and furious guitar-work come together to form an intense passage; this is followed by one of my favourite solos on the album, a short but sweet melodic piece. As mentioned previously, shortly after the echo of the ‘final note’ concludes its ring the song misguidedly continues. The tempo becomes noticeably slower, the guitars are distorted and the riffs are chugging. While admittedly it’s an effective contrast it should definitely have been a song in its own right.
At three minutes and thirty seconds Don’t Follow is the shortest song on the album and opens with an almighty seven second yell from Matt. Despite its short length the song does feel longer than it actually is, due to the fact the guitar work here is bizarrely uninteresting (one cannot usually say such a thing about guitarists Chris and Pat with a straight face). I particularly enjoyed the Highway to Hell era Bon Scott style vocals on the pre-chorus and chorus sections, and the occasional bass lick following a chorus was a nice addition – primarily because Alex rarely spends time in the spotlight on Gravitas.
New Way of Living starts with a solitary acoustic guitar and Matt’s soothing vocals layered on top. The song doesn’t hang about however, picking up the tempo around the minute mark. NWoL has the exact opposite problem than Don’t Follow, it just doesn’t feel long enough – the entire six minutes fly by quicker than Usain Bolt during the January Sales at JJB Sports. This is helped by the fact that the second third of the song is compromised entirely of solos – sorted nicely between the slower more melodic variety and ridiculous (I use that word endearingly) near virtuoso shredding. Lee manages to get some catchy drumming in during some of the solos, which is a powerful added incentive to get the listener to bang their heads like a deranged bobble head figurine.
During Vodoo Me I had the inescapable feeling that I’ve heard the song before, in actuality I don’t believe this to have been the case and I’ve marked it down to its ‘mainstream’ alt-rock sound. The chorus is immediately accessible, you can feel the emotion in Matt’s vocals and you want to join in, even if you haven’t fully memorised the lyrics. Wasted on You is another similarly accessible song, but the composers employ enough riff variety to keep it from feeling as generic as Vodoo Me, and the vocals are generally more energetic.
Opening with a pleasant acoustic riff, the penultimate song Our Peace Someday is my favourite by quite a large margin. This tour-de-force track is the highlight of Matt’s vocal work, he really goes all out here – not that he would need to prove himself. In many respects the song has an eighties hair metal ballad vibe; Matt even manages to pull off the obligatory high pitched, catchy arms in the air chorus, in a similar vain to artists like: Warrant, Paul Laine and Europe.
The fairly fast and masterfully crafted solo comes completely out of left field, after you’ve become lost in the mesmerising soulful vocals and slow tempo of the song. It meticulously treads the fine boarder between shred guitar and soulful playing that many guitarists strive to achieve and often fail (mostly because they are not Tony Drake), surpassing the usual easy route of a couple of string bends and a bit of whammy bar. When Frontiers Records release this album I highly recommend the inclusion of a complimentary Zippo lighter specifically for use with Our Peace Someday.
Desert Suicide is the album’s big finish and clocking in at eight minutes it does have quite the ‘epic’ feel. After a slow start the song comes into its own at around the minute mark (after a series of powerful screams from Matt). The whole experience is eerily reminiscent of many slower Dream Theatre songs, constantly changing tempo and tone. The solo is the definitely the standout moment of the track – following a meandering yet atmospheric interlude, the guitar work is solid and never compromises the dreamlike feel of the song.
All in all Gravitas is a blinding debut album from Brighton’s rising stars, and hopefully it will be fully appreciated upon its official release (Frontiers Records) on March 23rd. Gravitas has a healthy mix of prog, alt rock, classic rock and heavy metal with the end result not all that dissimilar to my own Ipod, flicking from progressive epics like Desert Suicide to personal tracks ala Our Peace Someday, clearly destined to become an anthem for the lonely and downtrodden; much like ‘Tallica’s Nothing Else Matters. Furyon currently have three very powerful weapons – guitar wizards Pat and Chris, and vocalist Matt – who appears to channel everyone from James LaBrie to M. Shadows to Bon Scott, all depending on the occasion. Gravitas is the first cobblestone on what will surely be Furyon’s illustrious path to glory. The only advice I could offer would be to give each member (sans Matt) more of a chance to shine – Pat and Chris do very impressive things given half a chance, but barring the occasional song the solos are nowhere near long enough to showcase their entire skill set, and bassist Alex is rarely heard to venture outside of his element. Still, a definite must own.
Devil Horn Rating (Out of Five): \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/ \n