Written by: Alan Daly
© Olga Kuzmenko
Photos by Olga Kuzmenko
After recent visits from North-American thrash legends Annihilator and Nuclear Assault, it’s time for a trio of old-school British thrash bands to invade Dublin for a session of head-banging and boozing. The relatively recent resurgence of thrash has seen many defunct bands resurrect themselves after decades of dormancy, and Xentrix and Acid Reign are just two examples. Judging by the size of the crowd gathered in the Voodoo Lounge tonight, it seems that their return is a welcome one.
First onstage are the Norwich-based Shrapnel and their opening performance sets the mood perfectly for the evening. Despite the modest attendance at their early kick-off, the five-piece are full of energy and live up to their promise of a thrilling lesson in neck-wrecking sonic violence. Mostly wearing t-shirts of Shrapnel’s tour-mates, the audience give them a warm reception and seem to enjoy the set.
It’s always great to see fans wearing merchandise of the support acts, but tonight it seems more like Acid Reign and Xentrix are co-headliners, with supporters of both bands equally strong in number. The crowd is a nice mix of old school thrashers who probably owned the early albums of both bands on bootleg cassettes in the late eighties and early nineties, and a fresh-faced new generation who found the bands and back-catalogues online.
By the time Acid Reign take to the stage at 8:30pm, the audience has increased in size and are starting to loosen up a bit more, although apparently not enough to satisfy frontman, and only original member, Howard “H” Smith. A few times, he vocalises his dissatisfaction with the lethargic nature of the front rows, and jumps offstage on more than one occasion in attempts to kick-start the moshing himself (and on another occasion to get himself a pint at the bar, mid-song). Unfortunately, in the midst of leaping off the stage, he managed to land on our own MyGlobalMind photographer Olga Kuzmenko, knocking her camera to the feet of nearby moshers. Being the nice guy and comedian that he is, he offered his humble apologies to Olga from the stage and offered to “make it up to her” after the gig.
The wise cracks and banter continue between tracks throughout the show, but seem natural rather than a string of tired clichés. Of course H isn’t here for a comedy show and he and his new bandmates succeed in delivering a rousing and entertaining one hour set comprised of tracks taken mostly from their modest repertoire of decade-old albums and EPs. Exceptions are ‘Hanging on the Telephone’ (The Nerves cover), and a brand new track ‘Plan of the Damned’ released this summer. Classic tracks including ‘Blind Aggression’, ‘All I See’, ‘Goddess’ and the set closer ‘Motherly Love’ get great reactions from the crowd, and have aged well, sounding better than anyone could have anticipated. “It’s nice to be remembered”, H admits and promises to come back again soon.
Following an incredibly quick turnaround, Xentrix make their way through the crowd and the house lights dim. A red light and dense fog envelop the stage as the Terminator 2 theme track heralds the start of their performance to cheers from excited fans. Their set starts proper with ‘Dark Enemy’, followed by ‘Balance of Power’ and ‘Back in the Real World’, a trilogy of tracks from their 1989 debut album Shattered Existence. Possibly most widely known for their cover of the Ghostbusters theme tune which they released in 1990, they released only a handful of albums, EPs and singles before disbanding in or around 1997. Ten years later, the Shattered Existence line-up briefly reunited for some live shows, but again called it a day. Third time lucky, Xentrix yet again regrouped in 2013, with new bassist Chris Shires replacing Paul MacKenzie soon after.
Persistence has definitely paid off. The music tonight is ridiculously rifftastic right from the outset, and the infectious thrashy tracks have heads banging immediately. At the helm, on vocals and guitars, Chris Astley whips up a bit of a frenzy in the front rows with classic tracks like ‘For Whose Advantage’ and ‘Crimes’ alongside fresh tracks ‘There will be Consequences’ and ‘Red Mist’. Closing with fan favourite ‘No Compromise’, Xentrix prove that they are as relevant as ever, and hopefully will be back in Dublin again soon. Who ya gonna call? Xentrix. That’s who.