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Good, but not great - classic case of 'Difficult 2nd Album Syndrome'? - 70%

Dougy, August 13th, 2019
Written based on this version: 1997, CD, Metal Mind Productions

As a huge fan of the band's 1990 debut 'Are You A Rebel?', the 1991 follow-up 'Dirty Money, Dirty Tricks' always came as something of a disappointment to me. It's good, but not great. The manic thrash aggression of the previous LP is scaled back, with the band's hard rock influences and weird humour filling the resulting void. Overall, this results in a slightly confused album that sounds almost like Frank Zappa got really into 'Ride The Lightning' and decided to make a thrash metal album of his own.

Of course it's unmistakably Acid Drinkers - nobody else sings like Titus and the lyrics serve up a similar mix of biting social commentary, insightful personal reflection and offbeat humour. The cartoon cover art the band members pushing each other through a meat grinder is reminiscent of the cover of A.Y.A.R.? and was of course drawn by the same artist, Jerzy Kurczak. (apparently the title and artwork were a dig at their record label)

The production values are improved, most noticeably on the drum sounds. The guitars benefit from a less 'fizzy' tone than before, but often seem like they should be a little heavier... similarly the bass is too clean-sounding and often pushed a little too high in the mix for my liking. Released less than a year after the first album, perhaps they just needed more time to work on the songs or the input of a better producer. They display a high level of musicianship on this record and clearly weren't short of ideas, so it's tempting to wonder what somebody like Scott Burns or Colin Richardson could have accomplished with them... however, given that they were recording the album for an indie label in an impoverished former Soviet Bloc country it seems they made the best of the resources they had available! However, these are really minor niggles and overall the sound quality is a marked improvement on the first album.

Musically, the band opt for an overall more melodic approach with many more nods to hard rock and occasional weirdness - including a very imaginative reworking of the Deep Purple classic 'Smoke On The Water'! There are still plenty of complex thrash bits and punky shout-along choruses,but many of the riffs and solos are reminiscent of Guns N Roses, with opening track 'Are You A Rebel?' being a prime example of this. 'Yahoo' is one of their more bizarre comedic moments and the album closes with a part-spoken-word ballad 'Full Of Wine' - heartfelt lyrics about the human condition, ending with the weird musical flourishes that seem to be this album's trademark.

Overall, this LP definitely stands out as one of Acid Drinkers' weirder offerings. If nothing else, they showed there was a lot more to them than just thrash metal. Perhaps not as good as the albums that came before or after it, but certainly nothing for them to be ashamed of and plenty of hints at what was to come from the band in later years.