The patriot in me gets a little warm and fuzzy when contemplating the healthy state of the Australian metal scene. Whether it be divisive big guns Ne Obliviscaris and King Parrot, head-scratching experimental acts like Portal and Hope Drone, the thrashy old-school goodness of Hobbs’ Angel of Death and Deströyer 666, cutting edge modern tearaways Départe and Deadspace, or reliable tech death stalwarts Psycroptic, there’s a hugely satisfying selection of Aussie metal to satiate a wide variety of extreme tastes. Inevitably, in any well populated and healthy metal scene, certain bands ply away admirably at their chosen craft while flying under the radar. Hailing from the far western realms of Perth, veteran act The Furor are one such entity, unleashing their own brand of thrashing, blackened hell for over a decade. Now the trio return with another scorching album of charred and seriously pissed off blackened death-thrash on their fifth full length platter, entitled Cavalries of the Occult.
Beginning with a touch of drama, “Death Manifest” takes hold in typically punishing fashion, setting a blistering tone for the album. Playing their signature style, consisting of a brutal, speed-laced combo of old school death, thrash and black metal, The Furor’s ferociously manic delivery is a joy to behold, all pretension-free, bullet-ridden mayhem, reeking of a band that lives and breathes metal. The Furor’s sound remains fresh despite the old school mentality, with some modern sensibilities and the uncompromising delivery brimming with exuberance and a heart-on-sleeve devotion to the scene. Lightning fast blackened riffage and a furiously intense and relentless percussive barrage drives each song, interspersed with the occasional slower tempo variation, slithering melody or caterwauling solo. For the most part however, blazing speed, riffs and blasts galore reign supreme. “Storm of Swords” rages with bloody-fingered fretwork, groovy mid-paced workouts and wild, unhinged solos, before changing gears midway through into a hypnotic and soulful melodic break, featuring stellar guitar work atop Dizazter’s distinctive rasp.
The Furor‘s occasional one dimensional songwriting can sometimes be a hindrance for the band. So when they vary the tempos and lay off the speed and blasting every now and then, their music takes on a pleasing extra dimension. Fortunately, Cavalries of the Occult offers a decent share of musical dynamics to mostly sidestep monotony. “Cavalries of the Occult” is a fine early album example, galloping in on a deliciously wicked riff before unleashing their trademark blast fueled assault, returning full circle with that same immensely satisfying main riff to seal the deal. Meanwhile the hyper-speed blackened thrash of “The 30 Year War” oozes the vibrant energy and unchained aggression that can make The Furor sound so goddamn invigorating when they hit their straps. Overall, there are no notable missteps or weak songs on the album, though song and album length does become an issue, especially when coupled with an earsplitting production. A handful of songs would have struck a stronger chord if they had been trimmed down, and at 55 minutes, Cavalries of the Occult is a tad long in the tooth and suffers from bloating, particularly for this style of metal with a fairly one-dimensional mindset.
Expertly juggling drumming duties, vocals and chief songwriting responsibilities, Dizazter (also of Impiety) puts together a fine all-around performance, but it’s his exceptional drumming that steals the show. The dude is a fucking demon on the skins and should be a household name in the wider metal scene. While the sheer speed, intensity and precision of his playing is impressive enough, when factoring in some nifty variables and well placed fills, his drumming is taken to even greater heights. Not to be outdone, Hellhound wields his axe with fleet-fingered fury, riffing up a storm and cherry picking from thrash, death and black metal trademarks with invention and murderous glee, not to mention some surprisingly eloquent soloing and melodic flourishes. I’ve already touched on the production, so needless to say the crushed mastering job is guilty of blurring the lines somewhat, causing unnecessary and unwelcome ear fatigue during the album’s weighty duration.
Despite being hamstrung by a couple of debilitating weaknesses, Cavalries of the Occult remains a wildly enjoyable ride, marking another solid entry into the band’s underrated canon. The Furor is a killer band thriving off ’80s thrash and death vibes, second-wave grimness and gritty punk rock energy, hellbent on shoving the meat and potatoes down your throat while leaving enough time to apply corpsepaint and shred your face off. And that’s metal to embrace, folks.