Acranius have returned, as brutal as ever! The slamming death metallers are back with their third album and you’d better strap yourselves in, hold on to your stomach lining cos this one is gut wrenchingly heavy.
The opening riff of Born a King is evil, so so evil, especially coming straight out of the heavily distorted vocal samples. Its deep tremolo picking and burst fire drumming leads into the throw down inducing partnership of blast beats and slow rhythmical chugging. It is so crushing and heavy you’ll end up punching yourself in the face. The rest of Reign of Terror doesn’t stray too far from this opening gambit. Kingmaker and Return to Violence follow the opening track pretty closely with some extra time to throw in some sweet guitar squeals and pounding drum fills. The vocals aren’t as guttural as previous material. Focusing more on a deathly growl than a churning stomach works well with the incredible production and tone of the album. It sounds amazing with each hit of the drum, strike of the guitar, twang of the bass and screamed lyric hit hard. There is no muddy tones or thinness to the album. Reign of Terror is deep with each song coming out strong in the sound department.
In between the insane blast beats, chugs and deep vocals you get cut up by some nasty tremolos. Built on Tradition and Battle Scars shred some serious death metal vibes into the album. It mixes up the structure nicely to keep things interesting. Not to mention the need for a neck brace once the album is over as wind milling is a must during these bridges. There are handfuls of little licks and bridges throughout the album to keep the slightly monotonous nature that haunts many bands of this genre from creeping in and destroy what Acranius have built.
One of the only drawbacks that Reign of Terror suffers from is the slow breakdowns/slams that just chip away at you. After the fifth or sixth time you’re left just waiting for the next chunky riff to get your head banging again. The album looses it’s punch ever so slightly. By the time Executioner comes round you’ll be so worn down that the eruption of ‘I am the Executor’ just doesn’t hit as hard as it should (cos frankly it’s a brutal breakdown that had me ready for some violence). Not every breakdown is sloth like however, Warpath brings a snappy groove into the mix and brings in the death metal elements saving the album from wandering too far down the one trope breakdown path.
Reign of Terror is a great album full of malice and aggression. Acranius have done a fantastic job at finding the perfect balance between a well polished production and raw musical ferocity. Yes, the slow down tempo breakdowns and slams can get a little draining, but the pure amount of riffage and inspiration that pulsates throughout the rest of the album more than makes up for this.