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Thursday 12 September 2019

Reviews: Acid Reign, Mgla, PSOTY, Lindsay Schoolcraft (Paul H, Rich & Lee)

Acid Reign: The Age Of Entitlement (Dissonance Productions) [Paul Hutchings]

My hazy memory recollects Acid Reign churning up St David’s Hall in 1988 as support to Nuclear Assault in St David’s Hall in 1988. The UK thrash outfit’s reformation thrilled the old school thrash community in 2013 to the extent that the band now have a cult status. The Age Of Entitlement is their first album since Obnoxious in 1990 and although only vocalist Howard ‘H’ Smith remains from those UK Applecore days, Acid Reign continue to flex their thrash muscles. The Age Of Entitlement captures some of the excitement and intensity of their first EP Moshkinstein but with amended subject matter adding a serious nod to the current changing state of the world; the hideous expectations of instant fame and the yawning chasm that exists between the rich and those at the lower levels of society. Tracks such as The New LowHardship and United Hates’ show a maturity and reflection whilst retaining that essential chug. The world has changed substantially since Acid Reign’s first trip around the sun, but there is no doubt that in a world of chaos, a bit of Acid Reign makes it that little bit easier to swallow. 7/10

Mgla: Age Of Excuse (Northern Heritage/No Solace) [Rich Oliver]

Being given the new Mgla album to review posed a dilemma as lets face it Mgla are a controversial band with their alleged political views and associations with unsavory characters. Given this I shall ignore the politics and focus purely on the music seeing as there’s enough shit being flung about with regards to politics right now. Mgla are a band that I have been wanting to check out for a good while now having been told from many of my black metal loving friends that they are one of the best bands in the genre at the moment. Age Of Excuse is the fourth full length album by the Polish duo and manages to meet the high expectations built up by the gushing praise I had heard directed towards the band. Theirs is very much an old school learning style of black metal with definite nods to classic Darkthrone and early Satyricon so the music has a very defined rawness to it.

What did take me by surprise was the amount of melody present throughout though it’s incorporated so well into their sound that it manages to sound raw, melodic and nasty and helps maintain a dark atmosphere throughout the album. Applause must be directed towards frontman/guitarist/bassist M. who performs melodies that are melancholic, forlorn and also grim as hell. The drumming by Darkside must also be commended with his controlled yet savage performance. I kind of did not want to like this album due to the controversy around Mgla but there’s no denying that this is a fantastic black metal album.

From the opening sounds of gnashing teeth on Age Of Excuse I to the climactic finale of Age Of Excuse VI I was absolutely hooked throughout though the jarring nihility of Age Of Excuse III was my personal highlight. I can very much see where the universal praise for Mgla stems from though just hope they get some better political views and nicer friends. 8/10

PSOTY: Sunless (Candlelight Records) [Lee Burgess]

PSOTY are a bleak prospect when it comes to post-metal. Their aptly named album Sunless is a vacuum of stifling tracks. As I’m sure you are aware, I love the non-conformist, un-structured form of this odd little sub-genre and I love it even more when it manages to throw me a curve ball. This curve ball comes in the form of Radiohead style vocals, whining out from haunting, empty melodic tones. This may seem a bit on the negative side, and as I say, it is ultra-bleak, but it’s also a cut above the usual Cult Of Luna wannabe throbbing. PSOTY show a brilliant sense of uniqueness and style in their music. There is real melancholy on show here, a feeling of sadness and loneliness which you could either see as depressing, or atmospheric, or even both. This isn’t for those looking for a bit of violent release, but rather an album to get lost in.

These songs drown us in crushing waves of density and then carry us away on currents before washing us up on desolate alien beaches. As with all good post-metal, there are huge expanses of music that do away with the confines of verse and chorus, but we never feel that this is self-indulgent because the riffs and melodies are tightly controlled and not one second of music is wasted. There are times when this all becomes a bit much, a bit too miserable, but these are few and far between and are remedied by just enough oxygen to let us breathe for just a second. If you are looking for a good dose of smothering darkness, this could be what you’ve been waiting for. 8/10

Lindsay Schoolcraft: Martyr (Self Released) [Lee Burgess]

Right, first things first, I had never heard of Lindsay Schoolcraft before now, and when I looked into this album I wrote it off as just another female fronted borefest trying to compete with the likes of Nightwish, Epica or Lacuna Coil which, if that’s your bag, fair enough. So I paid little attention. Then I listened and listened again. What I discovered is that this is rather retro. It isn’t so much Nightwish as Evanescence. I never saw the problem all these elitists had with Nu Metal, so actually Schoolcraft’s latest collection of hard rocking ditties, Martyr, is rather pleasing to the ear. If you ignore the dodgy mix, which puts a strange distance between the vocals and the music, what you’re left with is a very enjoyable bunch of pop infused bopping songs. 

You could argue that this is all a bit yesterday and simplistic. Some may even say this isn’t genuine metal, but they would be wrong. If like me, you remember the early days of Linkin Park, POD and Alien Ant Farm which for many was entry level metal, then give this a go. It’s easy on the ear and doesn’t ask anything of the listener other than the investment of a bit of headspace while you drive, work or wash dishes, because that’s what this is. It’s sing-along stuff for those days when you just want to get on with life with something playing in the background or just blasting out the window to piss off your whole street. 7/10

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