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Music Review: Stygian – Fury Rising

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A fury certainly is rising. It is coming out of Philadelphia and it goes by the name Stygian. This quartet is set to unleash what has been called their "best work to date." Are you ready? I have not heard any of their prior works to compare, but I can say that Fury Rising is an intriguing work by a band that is still growing into their abilities. It also seems those abilities are considerable. So, if you like your music straight up, this could be for you.

Stygian provides a different experience amid the slate of heavy/extreme/death metal acts I have been listening to of late. This takes me back to the early 1990's, coming across as a combination of Metallica, Pantera, Alice in Chains, and a liberal dose of Zakk Wylde for good measure. Yes, they have a retro style, but they inject it with an energy that adds a certain amount of freshness.

The band is led by Frank Leary on guitar and vocals. His voice can carry a good deal of emotion and energy, although it is quite uneven here. Sometimes he sounds out of key or not quite able to smoothly hit all of the desired notes, while at other times he sounds like a dead-ringer for Load-era James Hetfield. His guitar playing is paired with that of lead guitarist Patrick Hayden and his modified Kirk Hammett stylings to create this latest album's strongest element: the rock and metal guitar sound. This is where they truly shine with some shredding solos and catchy riffs. Backing them are drummer Steve Bacchia and bassist Mike Stewart, the duo providing a solid rhythm section that sustains the album's pace. Solid work all around.

To give you the short answer, I like Fury Rising. It's infectious, bringing the familiarity of its influences to bear. It works. It's funny to see how these retro-stylings and familiarity make a band stand out, but they do. Stygian may wear them on their sleeve, but don't let that fool you. These guys are the real deal, if still developing.

Toeing the line between hard rock and metal, the band is poised to play both sides of the coin. They do not seem to be interested in playing party lines by choosing either route or in taking their music to any extreme level. Stygian knows what they want to do and while they may not reached that point yet, they still have time.

Fury Rising begins with "Suffer Patiently," a tune that has a perfect level of hard-rock groove and slight metallic edge to get your head rocking. This leads into the heavy, hard-rock title track that starts with a riff spiced with very Zakk Wylde-sounding guitar squeals before settling into its chugging surge momentum.

While Stygian is definitely a band with potential and Fury Rising is a strong release, I get a similar vibe from Fallen Martyr. Both bands are self-assured and have put out albums that display their skills well, but they also come across as having not yet reached the peak of their abilities. However, they do show signs of promise. Fury Rising is a good listen, but their next album will really be the one to look for.

I think my biggest issue with the album is that there is not a lot of variety. Sure, each song is different, but they all have similar structures and flow. Although this should improve as they further find their voice, refine their sound, and improve their songwriting skills.

Bottomline. It comes as no surprise to learn Stygian began their life as a Metallica cover band based on their sound here. I am actually eager to see where they are able to take their music as Fury Rising proves they have the raw materials needed for success. I like the album and it is one well worth listening to. Rock or metal fan? Give them a listen—see if you hear what I hear.


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