Review by Greg Noble
Sacred Reich “Awakening”
As a dog person, I’ve had quite a few canine companions over the decades. The ones that I have been closest to are the faithful ones, the ones with a bit of mongrel in them, can be assertive when
it’s needed and were true to type – no great changes in personality and you could rely on them.
The one that stands out was a Jack Russell terrier. He was strong, robust, loyal and one day put a 5 foot goanna at my feet. He took care of business when it was needed and supportive when that was needed.
More about that later.
Hailing from Phoenix, this is the first album from Sacred Reich since 1996. They have a reputation for thrashing albums that have a social conscience and that challenge the establishment.
“Awakening” shakes us from our slumber, driving forward with an energetic riff. Thrash soon appears and Rind’s voice is iconic – sounding just as it should for music of this kind. It’s musical and robust. The sound of Sacred Reich is fast and clean. The guitar work is well engineered and the solos are quick in duration and pacing. The track also features amazing drumming – it’s varied and dynamic. I found myself zoning in on the drumming to experience the nuances of it. Tempo and key changes are used well and the track fades away into oblivion.
“Divide and Conquer” takes charge with an intense thrash sound and the drumming drew me in again. The sound of this track is really tight – the efforts of the band members compliment each other well. The words “divide and conquer” are repeated often and it gives the track a feeling of anarchy. It’s catchy and increased my connection with the music.
“Salvation” saves us with drumming in all its glory. It deserves its time in the sun. A muscular riff then joins the party. This track has a familiar sound, again increasing your bond to the music. It’s in line with your expectations about this music and is comfortingly familiar. The guitars are remarkably cohesive. This track pumps! It’s mad machine-like in its sound and intent.
“Manifest Reality” has an odd opening that sounds like a machine or beast. Another driving riff cracks forth and it stirred my soul. This is thrash at its best. The vocals emerge later in the track, allowing you to get a feel for the sound. The guitar solo is also a little odd sounding, mirroring the odd sounding start. The guitar arrangement is again terrific.
“Killing Machine” marches forward with military drumming, before killer riffs enlist in the campaign. This track has as its subject matter the motivations that people have when joining the military and their untimely and uncomfortable ends. This is another pumping track and the vocals go to another level again, including some stirring wails. It’s urgent in its intensity.
“Death Valley” opens with a change in tempo and sound, with it being boogie-like. The solos have a Southern feel and there is a liberal use of cowbell that would gain the Christopher Walker seal of approval. The guitar solos stand out from the others, being a little more intricate in nature. I was reminded of George Thorogood in places and was humming along on first listen.
“Revolution” rises up with an angry, fast, punky pace. I was jolted back to thrashfulness in all its glory. This track reminds us to live our lives with no explanation, to not give up and if we’re discontented, to start a revolution. Sounds like a plan.
Which brings us to the last track. What message will Sacred Reich leave us with to stew upon?
“Something to Believe” slows things right down, opening with clean percussion and swanky bass that surfaces all throughout the track. It shares a positive message of individuality and to “be the change you want to be”. It’s anthemic in nature and features passionate vocals and a sound that reminded me of “Priest”. It’s a real head nodder and a fabulous way to end the album.
Sacred Reich’s reputation for challenging the establishment and for having a social conscience both remain intact. Anger and discontentment bubbles just below the surface, bursting forth at the opportune moment to give maximum impact.
Phil Rind’s vocals are robust and fit the genre perfectly. The vocals are used to best suit the track, enriching each offering, but adding a sense of diversity across the album.
The drumming is amazing – it’s varied and quite compelling and the more you listen, the more you hear. The guitar work and arrangement is similarly clever, with each track featuring riffs that draw you in and engage you and solos that take each track to a new level.
There’s a structure within each track that is used all the way through. They don’t vary much from their established template. This doesn’t make them boring though – I found myself engaging with each track at first listen, then bonding more deeply with each subsequent listen.
Interwoven in this compelling sound and tight musicianship is unrest with a purpose, as an impetus for change, encouraging us to take a stand against the norm.
I’ve booked a flight to Canberra.
Back to that Jack Russell terrier. This album is like him – assertive when needed, reliable in quality, robust in intent, loyal to the genre, strong at times and supportive at others.
Plus, there’s a good bit of mongrel in it.