Sacred Reich – Awakening23rd August 2019 0 By John Deaux
USA thrashers SACRED REICH have also joined the thrash explosion this year, alongside DESTRUCTION, FLOTSAM & JETSAM, OVERKILL, DARK ANGEL, XENTRIX, and released their first album in 23 years… yes 23 long bloody years fans have waited, was it worth the wait? Can it compete with other thrash icons releases this year or will it get washed away in a sea of thrashing (plastic) waste?
I was excited for this release as I remember getting the “Surf Nicaragua” EP on vinyl (my first vinyl) when I was 11 years old (give or take) and then seeking out “Ignorance” and loving them. So will “Awakening” thrill me just as much as them early releases did? I’ll admit that I kept harassing the higher echelons of All About The Rock to let me review this album, as I waited with bated breath to see what SACRED REICH would release after all these years. So when given the advance copy I happily put my headphones on and with trepidation I press play…
The opening track “Awakening” starts off well and my hopes are high for the rest of the album, it isn’t a classic SACRED REICH song but it’s a good thrashy little number and has piqued my interest for the rest of the album and maybe they are still a little rusty after a 23 year studio absence.
“Divide and Conquer” is up next and starts off like a thrash maelstrom and will have you head banging like a possessed man and things are really looking up for this release and a smile creeps across my face. It’s like meeting an old friend again that you’ve not seen for many years and it’s like you’ve never been away. All the missed years just seem to have melted away and your both happy. However the bridge and chorus of the song hits and it’s like your friend telling you they’ve been sleeping with your partner for years. BOOM out of nowhere your sucker-punched and dazed and confused and don’t know what is happening, then they carry on chatting like normal and leave you bewildered in the surroundings.
The “Awakening” carries on like this for the rest of the release, but with the sucker punches coming thicker and faster. This time though you are able to process the shock more evidently and this knowledge manifests into a huge thunderbolt of disillusionment and shatters your passion and love for that long lost friend. Yes they might offer glimmers of salvation, some of the riffs and solos are great on the album “Awakening” and this will fill you with warmth after the bleakness of the majority of the previous songs.
The penultimate track on this release, “Revolution”, feels like SACRED REICH are going to seek redemption and put things right. This is one of the better tracks of the album, along with “Awakening” and “Divide and Conquer”, however they undo all this false hope with album closer “Something To Believe”. Yes SACRED REICH give us something to believe in, instead of the hard rock inspired song that closes this charade.
Fingers can also be pointed at the production of this release, which doesn’t help. Although everything is perfect in the mix and that is spot on, the overall sound is very quiet and you have to jack up your speakers/headphones volume to hear the songs.
At times SACRED REICH show what they are capable of and old fans will love this, however the band deviate from the sound that people love them for and I think this will disappoint the majority of fans. Musically the band are tight and the return of Dave McClain on drums is a welcome boost as he seems like he has something to prove. While new guitarist Joey Radziwill, plays like he been in the band since the beginning. Which is impossible as he’s only 22 years old and wasn’t born when the last SACRED REICH album was released.
Finally vocalist Phil Rind is in fine form and bellows his lyrics with passion, however it just doesn’t seem to mix. Even with the 8 tracks clocking in at 32 minutes, the album feels tired by the end. This isn’t helped by the groove & bluesy inspired rock track “Death Valley” that contributes 5:22 of the total running time (it feels like it!).
Obviously some fans will embrace this change and love the new songs, however this old SACRED REICH fan is dispirited with the majority of this release and hope they dont leave it quite as long to the next album! Maybe SACRED REICH have done themselves a disservice and shouldn’t have released “Awakening” when so many other thrash contemporaries have released albums that are (in my opinion) superior to this release. Maybe then I wouldn’t have been so critical, who knows?!?!
Although they sprint out of the blocks on this album, they soon tire and even though they try with one last push they limp across the finish line.
SCORE – 5.5
2. Divide & Conquer
4. Manifest Reality
5. Killing Machine
6. Death Valley
8. Something to Believe
23rd August 2019
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About the author
Some say Yank My Doodle, It’s A Dandy! is a biographical movie based on John. Some have even said that his favorite artist is Chesney Hawke! All we really know is he sleeps inside out and his hair tastes like candy floss.