Acid Reign – The Age Of Entitlement (Dissonance Productions)
Since Howard ‘H’ Smith reactivated Acid Reign in 2015, they’ve been tearing up dive bars and festival stages aplenty, often playing to thrashers who were just hi-top sporting, denim-clad sperm in their dads’ nutsacks when Moshkinstein first hit the shelves.
The quintet – of whom only the irrepressible H is the original member – have used this time to both rekindle their fanbase and whet appetites for a new album. It’s their first full-length in a staggering 29 years… and their first since the break-up of the band in 1991, after the UK thrash scene had proved no match for its US counterpart.
With old touring partners Xentrix getting in on the action with Bury The Pain earlier this year – and veteran acts such as Exhorder, Vio-lence and Sacred Reich returning to the frontline stateside – The Age Of Entitlement needed to be good. It had to be more than a nostalgia trip or a revival of the band’s goofy ‘applecore’ side. However, what we weren’t expecting was one of the most exhilarating thrash records of 2019, which puts the band’s earlier output into the shade and more than justifies H’s decision to breathe new life into Acid Reign.
The frontman retains his manic exuberance – and you can imagine him swinging from the rafters during the punked-up cover of Suzanne Vega’s Blood Makes Noise – but The Age Of Entitlement is a deadly serious work of scintillating songcraft and earth scorching intent.
Guitarists Paul Chanter and Cookey spit out sinewy, Anthrax-style riffs by the dozen, supercharging hard-slamming anthems such as Sense of Independence and Ripped Apart as they do so. And if you’re looking for gnarly pit-starters, you’ve come to the right place.
But there’s a sophistication, an emotional depth, to The Age Of Entitlement which is startling. Pummelling thrash is married to gargantuan, defiant choruses that draw on H’s melodic range in a way we’ve seldom heard before. His performances on A New Low and United Hates are startling: the Yorkshireman could give anyone from the Bay Area, LA, New York or the Ruhr a serious run for their money on this evidence. Indeed, he’s everything you’d want from a thrash vocalist, spitting mouthfuls of hardcore venom over acerbic lyrics, yet bringing far more to the party than most crossover singers ever could.
My Peace Of Hell drifts ever so slightly into tomfoolery, but that’s just a minor glitch in a barnstorming comeback from Acid Reign, an album that could have changed the game for both this band and dare we say it, UK thrash, if it was released in 1988. Sadly we don’t have a DeLorean handy, so let’s just savour this as a 2019 classic, from an act who thoroughly deserve their second chance.