Maybe more than any modern thrash album, Omicida’s Defrauded Reign sounds like a lost ‘80s underground classic. The LA-come-UK outfit’s debut full-length is pure Bay Area worship done to the highest degree, and an early standout in a year already jam packed with quality thrash metal.
Omicida themselves might be a new quantity, but the band boasts a seasoned roster including current and ex-members of White Wizzard, Monument, and Benediction, and that veteran quality is felt throughout their debut. Defrauded Reign kicks off in frantic fashion with “Hostage in the Pit”, which recalls the proto-crossover style of early Exodus, before dropping into chunky end section that brings to mind Overkill’s work on Necroshine (1999) and their recent opus The Wings of War (2018). Although the title “Violent Resolution” might suggest Kreator, the track itself is straight-up Slayer worship—including a direct nod to the Big Four legends’ “War Ensemble” in the form of vocalist Giovanni Barbieri’s drawn out screech of “Waaaaaarrrr!” toward the track’s end. While he might lack the finesse of some of his peers, Tom Araya has become the go-to touch stone for most contemporary thrash vocalists and, although not at all original, Barbieri delivers one of the best impressions yet. Barbieri constantly invokes Araya, both in terms of tone and vocal patterns. “Protect and Serve”, especially, sounds like a lost B-side from either the South of Heaven or Seasons in the Abyss sessions, while “State of Terror” recalls the strongest of Slayer’s more recent material, and the band are happy to ride-out the impersonation for most of the album.
There are some slight variations to be found throughout Defrauded Reign. Track five, “Divine Uncertainty” throws an early curve-ball into the mix by turning instead to Voivod or Vektor for its inspiration and ends by devolving into almost early-Pink Floydstyle bombast. The sharp change in direction is both refreshing and intriguing, and it’s a bit of a shame when “State of Terror” gets things immediately back on track. …or rather it would be if the riffs weren’t so damn tasty. The quasi-ballad “Sentenced”, again, takes things in a slightly more expansive, even at times death metal influenced, direction and “Unborn” likewise comes off as an expert meld of Slayer and classic Megadeth. Album-closer, “Dead Eyes See No Evil”, is another instant classic. It’s the kind of song that feels like it’s been around forever, from the first time you hear it, and it’s almost difficult to fathom that one of the genre’s classic acts didn’t come up with its particular concoction sooner.
Defrauded Reign is pure pastiche, but in the best way possible. It’s been a long time since any of the big-name Bay Area acts—or even any of the lesser ones—have sounded this vital, let alone delivered a record of this high quality. Omicida may come off as a sort of ad-hoc outfit on paper, but it sounds like each of their members may have finally found the perfect fit for their talents. Thrash metal is making a strong showing in early 2019 and Omicida Defrauded Reign is among its best offerings.
Defrauded Reign is out independently on March 16. It can be pre-ordered through Omicida’s official website.