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Las Vegas metal survivor Shannon Frye returns with a darker sound

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Drummer Shannon Frye is back—and so is his band Avenger of Blood.
Photo: Bill Hughes
Jason Bracelin

He narrowly escaped death. A year later, Shannon Frye is delivering that which he barely eluded.

Last June, Frye, founder and drummer of Vegas thrashards Avenger of Blood, was involved in a serious car accident, his work truck T-boned, his life spared but damaged just as severely as his ride. “After the impact, I flew 75 feet in the truck,” Frye recalls. “I held on to the steering wheel, white-knuckled, and all my muscles seized up five to 10 minutes later. It was hell to go through.”

At the time, Frye didn’t know if he’d ever be able to play drums again, such was the extent of his injuries, which also cost him his job. But after 10 months of countless doctor visits and some arduous physical rehab, Frye was finally able to pick up the sticks and get after it again in April. He’s back, and so is Avenger of Blood.

After an eight-year wait every bit as trying for Frye as his struggle to get back into playing shape, Avenger has readied a new record, On Slaying Grounds, scheduled for a July 29 release on Times End Records.

With pronounced death-metal leanings, it’s a wholly different beast that its predecessor, 2008’s Death Brigade, if similarly bestial in nature: the vocals are more guttural and fierce, suggestive of the sound one might make after taking a power sander to the vocal cords; the already-fast tempos have been Red Bulled to further extremes; poser-mashing ragers like “Instruments of Chaos” and “Aggressive Psychotic Behavior” are ferocious enough to render their titles more than heavy metal hyperbole.

Measuring the difference on a scale of human carnage, if Avenger’s jams of the past were like a bare-knuckle street fight, Slaying is more armed conflict, with nukes in place of fists. In barreling down this particular highway to hell, however, Avenger has hit its share of potholes. Back in ’08, the band seemed poised to take advantage of the thrash resurgence then heating up the metal underground, with Death Brigade released by a hot national indie metal label at the time, Heavy Artillery Records.

But continual band-member changes disrupted the group’s momentum—and also fueled the rage that powers Slaying. “The anger that had built up over time was a big change in how the evolution of the band took place,” Frye says. “As time I went on, I felt that I needed to get heavier, faster and more aggressive to let that energy surface itself rather than keep it built in.”

Frye’s still looking to stabilize Avenger’s line-up with a new frontman, hence no live shows in the near future. But, hey, what’s a good slaying without some fresh blood?

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