There's one in every town — the "it band" when it comes to opening pay-to-play shows for SOIL or SEVENDUST or DROWNING POOL, the ones who maybe did a theme song for their local minor-league sports team, or get invited to play the local car stereo outlet's wing-off and wet t-shirt contest every summer. They're a step above the other locals when it comes to presentation and presence; they might even have a little money behind them. They've got great merch, a farm-team endorsement deal or two for their gear, and big, big plans for the future.They've covered all the bases, unfortunately, except for the songs that are supposed to be the reason they're here in the first place. STYGIAN actually aren't terrible writers — they're just boring as shit. Their singer has an irritating Hetfield fetish, and their riffs are strictly borrowed alt-rock arena thud circa a time when STATIC-X mattered to someone. There's a plod to the rhythms here that all the Zakk Wylde flourishes and Kirk Hammett licks on earth can't erase, a sense that the band (the drummer especially) would rather be tearing into some heavier stuff, but decided to instead "rock it out, to get big" — while failing to realize that some groove and heart might be required to do so. If your idea of a good time is a big blender full of DISTURBED, BLACK LABEL SOCIETY, "Load"-era METALLICA and GODSMACK, then you can rock your chinstrap beard off to STYGIAN and their warmed-over 2002-era hard rock clunk. There's no denying it's well-recorded and packaged, professionally produced and laid out... but it just feels stale, late to the party, and third-rate. I mean, they check off every cliche in the book, from the stomping rock parts to the obligatory constipated ballad (where the METALLICA worship just gets embarrassing), even down to the Photoshop filters on the band photos in the CD layout. "Fury Rising" comes and goes without depositing a single original idea, or even a memorable one, in the listener's head. It'd almost be more interesting if it was terrible, and not such a flawlessly-executed bore. I'm sure a few indignant members of the "local chapter" will bash out some angry, spelling-optional retorts to this review — that, too, is part of the whole tired package. But the fact remains that this particular bandwagon left the station years ago, and it's not coming back. STYGIAN can either put their obvious talent to work creating something a little less derivative, or they can enjoy their local celebrity while it lasts. A 4 for hard work and professionalism, but a stone zero on the give a shit-o-meter.
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