Reviewed: October 2019
Released: 2019, Dissonance Productions
Reviewer: Kieron Hayes
With Acid Reign, we have another addition to the likes of Hell and Pagan Altar: a metal band from the 80s that broke up in fairly short order, but has now reformed to put out fresh material in the modern age. They’re even country-mates with those other two, all three bands coming from the UK; apparently old, obscure metal bands reforming is just a big thing there. I’m not complaining.
Acid Reign didn’t make too much of a splash back in the day, though this isn’t that surprising, as the UK thrash scene was never as big as the likes of the USA’s or Germany’s. There were certainly some gems in there, like Sabbat or Onslaught (or Venom if you count them), but nothing having as wide an impact as other scenes.
With The Age of Entitlement, Acid Reign are sticking pretty firmly to their old-school guns. The production sound quality is certainly updated, but the approach and song-writing are very much in line with older, NWOBHM-influenced thrashers. Their style definitely doesn’t lack in aggression, but focuses equally on melody and catchiness rather than striving for outright extremity. Think Anthrax, Exumer, or maybe more recent work by Mortal Sin.
The songs offered do provide a nice bit of variety. Tracks like “Sense of Independence” and “Ripped Apart” crank things up to breakneck pace, the latter making great use of a punkish d-beat rhythm. Those punk tendencies show up even more loud and clear on “Blood Makes Noise”, while “Hardship” allows the band to slow things down for more of a mid-pace stomp. “Within the Woods” is easily the highlight, continuing thrash metal’s tradition of adapting classic horror tales into songs. Much like Anthrax’s Stephen King- inspired songs, this one works wonders with The Evil Dead, a movie ever bit as delightfully gory and campy as thrash can be at its best.
Where Acid Reign might lose some listeners is in their lyrical content (not counting the aforementioned “Within the Woods”, because who could not enjoy that?). The album title, cover art and track titles make their target here abundantly clear, as the band takes aim at modern society, shallow reliance on social media, etc. Certainly there’s plenty to criticise there, these are social issues, and thrash has a history of tackling such things. But as a comeback album of a band from the 80s, it runs a distinct risk of coming off like a bunch of old men yelling at kids to stop taking selfies on their lawn.
To some, this will be awkward and off-putting, but others will simply focus on the music, and in this regard The Age of Entitlement is a perfectly competent thrash album. It’s not going to redefine the genre, nor likely catapult Acid Reign to new heights, but it’ll be a fun enough listen for dedicated thrash fans, so long as they aren’t overly bothered by the band’s lyrical targets.