Reign Of Fury On The Move
Over half-way through their mini-tour supporting cancer awareness, Britain’s Reign of Fury seem to have struck the perfect balance between relaxed preparedness and business-as-usual focus as they command the backstage dressing room at Oxford’s O2 Academy. However, drummer “Magic” Dave Humphries has something else on his mind at the moment. Chinese food!
“You can just call me Magic,” he instructs me early on – though I never did find out where the nickname originated.
Magic, the band’s humorous and energetic drummer – crowned with a peroxide-blonde mohawk – has a quick pre-show meal on his radar and so we make our way quickly out of the club and a few doors down to the local Chinese restaurant.
“The band’s Do-It-Yourself approach has served us well,” he muses after ordering chicken chow main. “And that has really carried over to the way our fans share our music with each other – whether it’s on Facebook or YouTube, whatever.”
It’s how I discovered the band. Their crushing (and absolutely hilarious) video for “Born To Die” from their self-released debut full-length album World Detonation is a perfect example (they’ve also released a 4-song EP Psycho Intentions). On YouTube alone it has already racked up 6,600 views and counting. The surprisingly slick video (directed by the band’s manager Andy Pilkington) is everything you’d want from a band you’d love to see hold high the gauntlet of new heavy metal.
You really need to check it out to believe it -
In addition to Magic, the quintet is made up of vocalist Matt “Bison Steed” Wrathbone, guitarists Ed “Fury” Westlake and Jon Priestly, and bassist “Heavy” Matt Earl.
The band wears its influences proudly on it’s sleeve. They are all Maiden fans and it shows. Their songs are tight, well structured, and (best of all) full of elegantly savage hooks and soaring melodies. Dare one say – even memorable?
“It’s not really something we think about,” confesses Westlake. “That tradition of classic British metal is totally instilled in all of us.”
“It’s what we like listening to,” adds Magic. “We’re not writing for other people - we’re writing for ourselves.”
There are also other elements at work in helping to make the band’s sound stand out from the crowd.
“Several of us actually came to know each other through various punk bands we played in,” shares Earl, wearing an iconic Black Flag t-shirt that he ends up sporting on-stage for the band’s set later.
This influence also shows. There is a definite punk snarl hiding in the corners of the bands epic songs.
“We were all the metal fans in the punk bands,” adds Earl.
And you can pick up on that sense of family even backstage at the show - the band is supported by a tight-knit group of friends that are more then just hanging out - they are helping with set-up, organizing promotion, taking photographs & video, etc.
The band itself works the room like pros before their set - saying hello to friends and selling merch at their well laid out table.
“We’re definitely all in this together,” confesses Earl.
When Reign hit the stage (they share the bill tonight with three other bands) there is a definite change in the venue’s atmosphere. With no disrespect to the bands that have already played, there is an electric charge – the kind that follows around a band on the edge of something bigger.
On stage Reign delivers the goods. The songs are obviously well- rehearsed and the band hams it up with all the enthusiasm you want from a metal band blistering away.
“We obviously take our music seriously but we don’t necessarily take ourselves too seriously,” admits Wrathbone later.
The Headbanger Balls Tour is more than a heavy metal fans wet-dream of dates throughout England - it’s a celebration and raising awareness campaign with Reign of Fury leading the charge.
Wrathbone who had been diagnosed with testicular cancer is now five years cancer free.
“There are so many people out there with much more in the way of influence and finances to back something like this but they aren’t,” muses Wrathbone. “We wanted to raise this up and make a positive stand.”
“And what’s been so tremendous about this experience is everyone attending these shows that have a connection from within their own family or circle of friends,” adds Humphries.
The audience members I talked to definitely feel the same way.
“It’s so great seeing the metal community pull together for such an important cause,” shared one local female fan just before Reign hits the stage.
The mini-tour stretched over 12 dates and included over 40 metals bands.
Up next is work on a follow-up to World Detonation.
“We’ve already entered into the writing and demo stage with plans to release in early 2014,” shares Westlake.
“You don’t just want to put out anything,” adds Priestly.
Something tells me the end product will be worth the wait.
They also look forward to the time when finances will allow them to hit the States.
“We’d love to make that trip,” promises Priestly.
I don’t think it will be long – and I certainly don’t think metalheads in the U.S. will take long to catch on once they do.
In the meantime, the band still slugs it out with day jobs – Magic drives a bus, Matt works backstage at a theatre, Bison works IT support – you get the idea. But the level of commitment to their music is not only admirable – it’s contagious. Even after just a few hours hanging around these guys, you are already pulling for them.
“The bottom line is that we are five really close mates that love making music together,” sums up Westlake.
The evidence is in the band’s sound and in their approach to all things musical. You heard it here first - keep your eyes (and ears) open for Reign of Fury.
Check out photos and video from the Oxford show with backing music provided by Reign of Fury’s “Infernal Conflict” from World Detonation.
Written, Video Production and live Photos by Robert Ankrom