PITIFUL REIGN, Toxic Choke (2006, self-released)

The skull:
Drawing your album cover with a pencil: that’s oldschool. Adorning it with a grinning, deformed, and dripping mascot skull: that’s going all the way. But if the skull isn’t named Pete Evil (get it?), I’d say that at a minimum, an opportunity was missed. In any case, I appreciate the DIY charm on display here, and the ridiculous skull is exactly the right kind of ridiculous.

The music:
I feel like every time I have to review British thrash, old or new, I end up insulting it by comparing it to Cerebral Fix, so I won’t do that this time. And anyway, Pitiful Reign don’t really sound like them, but they do sound very British, in the worst way, even if the bass tone is 100% Souls at Black, all rubbery and bad. Musically, this would probably fall in the middle of the rethrash quality spectrum, but the production is so bad that it’s hard to appreciate at face value. The vocals, clearly recorded without a pop screen, are clipped so badly that I wonder if the mic used was the one built into the singer’s laptop or phone. The entire mix is punishingly loud and in very short order listening to Pitiful Reign becomes quite taxing on the ears. Coming out as it did in 2006, this album was at least a little bit ahead of the rethrash trend, but it’ sadly no better than anything that’s come out since.
— Friar Johnsen

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