Ah, I see you’ve pulled the AMG N00b Class of 2018 yearbook off the shelf. Oh sweet nostalgia! Let me show you my favorite page: the yearbook superlatives. There’s Cherd of Doom, voted “Best Beard” and “Most Metal Offspring,” and here’s TheKenWord with his “Most Likely to Literally Kill with Kindness” and “Most Overwhelming Vocabulary.” Oh, and here I am! Holdeneye, “Worst Musical Taste” and “Most Likely to be Summarily Dismembered by HR.” Why fight such labels? It’s far easier to lean in and double down! With this in mind, I’ve been champing at the bit1 to issue my first 5.0 rating because I’ve found that dismemberment is best handled like ripping off a Band-aid. Why wait? Naturally, I picked up the sophomore album from London (via Los Angeles) band Omicida, as two of its members have spent time in AMG darling White Wizzard, with one of them (drummer Giovanni Durst) even attaining Happy Metal perfection.2
I thought about just slapping a 5.0 on this and calling it a day (and life), but I figured I should probably listen to the music first. Defrauded Reign has dreams of being a thrashterpiece, and while it can’t attain those heights, it doesn’t crash and burn either. Omicida have created a thrash album that successfully covers a variety of the genre’s styles very well. “State of Terror” nails the aggression and speed of Slayer, mid-to-late Kreator rears its head on “Dead Eyes See No Evil” and the almost-named-after-a-Kreator-album “Violent Resolution,” and there’s an underlying Bay Area theme that reminds me of Forbidden throughout. Guitarists Roy Lev-Ari and Erik Kluiber have mastered the art of the thrash riff and lead, and it makes Defrauded Reign a pleasure to kill time with on repeated listens.
Opener “Hostage in the Pit” sets the stage perfectly, building anticipation with cymbals and snare marching out over spacey guitars before a massive palm-muted chug takes over and the song launches into full thrash mode. There’s a blistering creepy tremolo that recalls the melody of Testament‘s “Raging Waters,” and it’s at this early point that I realized that despite having a gloriously modern production, Omicida have managed to capture the spirit of those early thrash classics. These tremolos pop up again on “Sentenced” and “The Supremacist,” and add a blackened dimension that helps keeps things varied and fresh, while “Unborn” slows things down to a “South of Heaven” crawl before launching into a Defrauded Reign in Bloodgeoning.
There are a few missteps here. “Burn the Cross” is an atmospheric interlude that seems to build momentum for what I assumed would be a ferocious follow up track, but instead leads into “Sentenced,” which possesses one of the more subdued openings on the album. This renders the interlude pointless, and Defrauded Reign would be stronger without it. Some songs are a little too derivative of their influences and there are a couple of vocal parts that are far too familiar, such as the Tom Araya “WAAAAAR” scream found on “Violent Resolution” and the Eric Adams “Battle Hymn” “KILL! KILL!” on “Divine Uncertainty.” “Protect and Serve” is one of my favorite tracks on here, but its lyrical content is the greatest source of concern on the album in my opinion.
Thrash can be a very political genre, so it’s no surprise that Defrauded Reign carries on with this tradition. “Protect and Serve” is a song that attempts to paint police officers as racist murderers. While there are no doubt examples of this behavior to be found in police departments and there are ways that the system in general needs to be improved, I have a hard time being okay with lyrics painting the entire profession with such a broad brush. Declaring that “violence in the streets will be the only way” and advocating the murder of cops isn’t a tenable position in my opinion, and it seems the band has pushed too far in order to get a reaction from listeners. I work with police officers on an almost daily basis, and the vast majority—if not all —that I’ve met are great people who are simply trying to do a job that is getting harder and harder to do.
Well, this isn’t a 5.0, so my dismemberment may have to wait for another day (un)fortunately. The production values, riffs, and passion are all here though, making Defrauded Reign a good thrash record that will check a lot of boxes for fans of the genre.
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 160 kbps mp3
Releases Worldwide: March 8th, 2019