Sacred Reich - Awakening

Sacred Reich Awakening cover
Sacred Reich
Metal Blade Records
Sacred Reich are one of the relatively unsung heroes of thrash. They’ve existed since the mid-80s, debuting in 87 with “Ignorance”, only to follow it up a year later with the seminal “Surf Nicaragua” EP (and a live one in Dynamo a year after that)… going into the 90s, “The American Way” just couldn’t compare and the band really disappointed a lot by declining significantly with the ensuing “Independent” and “Heal” efforts in 93 and 96 respectively seeming more interested in trying to go with the times and follow whatever sound was popular at the time. The 90s were a confusing time with grunge pretty much taking over all other genres and thrash metal quickly gave way to groove metal. Sacred Reich released a live album next, before disbanding around 2000. Several years later in 2007, when the combined reissue of “Ignorance + Surf Nicaragua” was released, the band resurfaced and has been gracing festival stages ever since, but without releasing an album. Other than the soundtrack to a Wacken performance in 2012. Some 23 after “Heal” the band returns with “Awakening” an album that seems like the logical continuation of their early 90s output, being the album that should ideally have been released, after the “American Way”.
A lot of silly thrash puritans that really fall for the sheer speed and ferocity of the genre, seemed to shun the shift of the band into a more heavy metal territory, but this is what Metallica and Metal Church have been doing, so having them wince and complain like bitches is kinda new and not even entertaining. Oh, Rinds vocals are monotonous… ehm, wasn’t him singing on the albums you geniuses? Bitches are gonna bitch, I suppose.
“Awakening” opens the album, quite impressively, with big groovy movements and feeling pretty vintage with its SR meets Anthrax aesthetics passed through an early ‘tallica prism.
“Divide & Conquer” opens with a riff/drums barrage that are true to the early ‘tallica and early SR (crossover) style but is pollinated by somewhat of a latter day Armored Saint / Anthrax vibe. Nothing wrong with any of that, of course and the chorus is neat and all is good… and anti-fascist through and through, in a time when the far right and left seem to again be rising in popularity.
“Salvation” had me a little worried that it could unravel in a way not to dissimilar to “Independent” or “Heal” songs, but it’s more focused and thus it saves face, with another well thought chorus and a notably nice solo.
“Manifest Reality” is actually making a conscious effort to sound thrashier, after a short ominous intro and it manages to get things going a bit faster, without being some sort of thrash freight-train going of the tracks…
“Killing Machine” is a song that seems to decry the constant involvement of the US in conflicts internationally, looking at it from the perspective of the soldiers, who are often laying down their lives for someone else’s advantage.
Death Valley” is kinda of a fluke, not a terrible track, but it’s got a bit of a rotten bluesy southern rock ‘n roll vibe, which seems uncharacteristic of the genre.  It’s not so terrible as to put you off completely, but since the album is really short, it feels like an unnecessary diversion.
“Revolution” gets things going on super-fast again, with drumming on the double-double and the happy go lucky spirit of early SR on full display, while spewing up socially charged lyrics at rapid fire rate.
“Something to Believe” is a smooth grove driven mid-tempo number, which is not bad, but feels a bit like a hippy metal version of SR. Would not have minded this hickey melodic thrash quasi ballad in the place of say “Death Valley” but tacked at the very end of the album, it feels more like an afterthought than anything else.
A short and uneven album that however feels worth the release… worth 23 years of waiting?... probably not, but it’s not a reason to write off the band that does quite deliver. Sacred Reich in 2019 offers a, no BS, heavy metal album with thrashy moments that is unapologetic about what it is and continues the band’s legacy in the best possible way at this day and age.