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 and comes 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 do it with an energy that gives it a certain amount of freshness.
To give you the short answer, I like Fury Rising. It is catchy, infectious, and brings the familiarity of its influences to bear. It works. It is funny to see how these retro-stylings and familiarity make a band stand out, but it does. Stygian may wear them on their sleeve just don't let that fool you. These guys are the real deal, if still developing.
Toeing the line between hard rock and metal, Stygian is poised to play both sides of the coin, becoming a sort of edge band. They do not seem to be interested in playing party lines by choosing either route, or taking their music to any level of extreme. Syygian knows what they want to do and while they may not be there yet, give them time.
Fury Rising begins "Suffer Patiently," a tune that has that perfect level of hard rock groove with a slight metallic edge to get your head rocking. If you don't, well, I suggest you check for a pulse as something is wrong. This leads into the heavy hard rock title track that begins 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 to Fallen Martyr. They are both bands that are self-assured and have put out an album that displays their skills well, but they also both come across as bands that have not reached the peak of their abilities. They show signs of promise for things to come. Fury Rising is a good listen, but their next album will be the one to really look for.
I think my biggest issue with the album is that there is not a lot of variety. Yes, each song is different, but they have similar structures and flow. This will improve as they continue to find their voice, refine their sound, and improve their songwriting skills.
The band is led by Frank Leary on vocals and guitar. His voice can carry a good deal of emotion and energy, although it is quite uneven here. Sometimes sounds to be out of key or not quite able to smoothly hit all of the notes he wants, while other times he sounds like a dead-ringer for Load-era James Hetfield. His guitar teams with that of lead guitarist Patrick Hayden and his modified Kirk Hammett stylings to create the albums strongest element, the rock and metal guitar sound. This is where the truly shine with some shredding solos and catchy riffs. Backing these two are Steve Bacchia on drums and Mike Stewart on bass. This duo provides a solid rhythm section that help keep the album's pace up. Solid work all around.
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 he album and it is one well worth listening too. Rock or metal fan? Give them a listen, see if you hear what I hear.