When Acid Age first appeared in 2013, their goofy personas and fast riffage (dubbed by the band as ‘hyper thrash’) saw them branded by some as a novelty band for kids who had been too young for the thrash revival.
However, through constant gigging (as well as various members having stints in the likes of Hellbastard and The Dangerfields), the Tres Tyronians became a permanent fixture in the NI metal scene, influencing the likes of Mortal Backlash and Scotland’s Daniel Wax Off. Musically, they’ve evolved into something akin to prog metal (or ‘war jazz’ to use the band’s preferred description) and their last album (2021’s ‘Semper Pessimus’) was a concept record about Emperor Nero. Quite an achievement for the band who wrote ‘Lady Deathsquirt’!
So, tonight’s show is billed as a ten-year anniversary show. Some achievement in itself, considering most bands in this country stall around the five year mark. But, more than anything, it’s a chance to see if there is any fuel left in the band’s tank.
Having been on the go for less than a year, Dynasty take to the stage like they’re headlining Wembley Arena. Their classic rock/metal sound fills the room, as the riffing is infectious and the groove undeniable and a frontman who has an equally irresistible stage presence. Musically, we’re talking AC/DC, UFO and some Stones groove and a voice that sits somewhere between Axl Rose and Dan McCafferty. All good stuff.
The only slight downside is that there are times during the set where the band seem to lose the beat, either coming in too early or too late. This could be down to being on a small stage and competing sounds from the monitors. Regardless, Dynasty’s set was a sight to behold, and a full album cannot come soon enough from these lads.
Arriving on stage in celebratory form, Acid Age tear into the nearly eight-minute track ‘The Burning of Rome’ and then hit us with a track from their debut LP, 2014’s ‘Drone Shark Ethics’. This one/two punch sums up the evening: celebrating the past, but also using it as a stepping stone for the present and the future, as several new songs are premiered tonight.
Not long off an Irish tour with English thrashers Evile, the band are in tip top shape in terms of performance and banter. Singer/guitarist Jude McIlwaine isn’t afraid to engage with the crowd and make an eejit of himself (he seems genuinely lost for words when a member of the audience informs him that she was ten years old when the band’s mini-LP came out). Bassist Jake Martin is a stoic presence on bass (a suitable counterpoint to Jude’s gonzo barfly approach) and the controlled onslaught from drummer Aran Howe is a sight to behold.
What is interesting is hearing how the older songs stand up in 2023. There’s no denying that the likes of ‘Graphik Grotesk’ and ‘Zombie Sabbath’ (despite some zany lyrics) are actually great songs that riff like bastards. Even ‘Hell is in the South Sea’, with it’s bluesy half time riff that comes out of nowhere makes more sense than it did in 2016. Maybe it was the stepping stone to the band’s current sound?
Summing up 10 years with 18 songs in 105 minutes. Not bad going.
It’s time to sit up and pay attention to Acid Age.