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In my neverending Quest for Perfect Steele, I stumbled upon this obscure thrash release. It's most certainly obscure for a reason, but it's also thrash, and therefore worth at least one spin.
Azotic Reign are not as esoteric or pretentious as the title might suggest. The overall sound IS quite inaccessible, even for a thrash album. However, this is more because of a conglomerate of musical missteps, which I'll describe below, rather than over-technicality or a particularly bleak approach. This album could just as well have been released in the early '90s.
The musicianship is fine. The guitar sound is pretty heavy and dark, which sometimes makes the individual riffs muddy, even though the mixing itself is clear and sharp. The leadwork on the other hand is rather melodic, whenever it exists. If you're looking for long solo sections, you can stop reading right now. The best thing here is the drummer, who sounds like he has four arms and four legs!
Now the missteps. I quite like the album while I'm listening to it, the mega-energetic drumming keeps the head a-bang and the feet a-tap all the way through. The problem comes afterwards, when you realize that you can't remember a single musical theme on the whole album. It's just not particularly memorable anywhere.
It seems like they didn't put much thought into the choruses, and save for the irritating "Beyond the blood", I'm not even sure there are any. Also, like I said, the riffs are just sort of "there", and little more. You never pay any particular attention to them, because they all sort of blend together. Solos are rare and short, thrash breaks rarer and shorter still.
There's also no variety to speak about. Most songs move in the upper mid-tempo range, and there's hardly ever a tempo change in an individual song. Closing "House by the ancient cemetary" is the exception to all this. Quite a haunting piece, and easily the standout track here, though not fantastic or anything. It's certainly not ten minutes long either, but adds several minutes of silence after the actual song, and then some idiotic noise tacked on at the end. I hate when bands do this - riffs, if you please!
The lyrics are mostly of a spiritual nature, and there are lots of them! Way too much lyrical focus in my opinion, as it often seems like the songs are written around the plodding vocal lines. I guess this also explains why there are so few real instrumental breaks on the album. This approach could work if the singer is Mathias Blad or something, but we're not that lucky.
Kjell Andersson is quite decent for the most part, with a solid mid-range voice, harsh enough to thrash convincingly. Unfortunately, he also has the horribly annoying habit of drawing out and raising the pitch of the last note of the sentences. He does this in every single song, and it starts to REALLY get on my nerves after about ten minutes. A gimmick, I'm sure. This just in: You sold exactly three copies of this, so all those hours spent perfecting your FUCKING GIMMICK was for nothing, EH!?
"Takes one to know one" - Kim Philby
That said, at least five songs here are "alright", and the other four "don't suck". Might not be a lasting experience, but send these guys a thought at Christmas. Or don't. I don't care.
Favourite songs: "The house by the ancient cemetary", "The fall of humanity" ,"Reincarnation denied"