Sacred Reich – Awakening review

Enlightening, positive thrash with some unexpected twists! 9/10

2019 has been an epic year so far for a thrash resurgence, with Death Angel releasing Humanicide, Overkill ‘s The Wings of War, Flotsam and Jetsam’s The End of Chaos, Xentrix’s Bury The Pain and even death pioneers Possessed releasing the thrash tinged Revelations of Oblivion. There was also the Slayer farewell tour, the Metallica tour, Machine Head touring, The Megadeth ‘Mega-Cruise’ and the announcement that Spring 2020 will witness Testament embarking on The Bay Strikes Back tour with Exodus and Death Angel! This is just the tip of the iceberg, now Sacred Reich release their first studio recording in 23 years: Awakening.

What a time to be alive!

Awakening is Sacred Reich’s fifth studio album and their first since drummer Dave McClain returned to the fold and guitarist Joey Radziwill replaced founding members Greg Hall and Jason Rainey respectively.

In March 2019, the band released the following statement:

We are excited to begin again. Having Dave back in the band brings a new drive and determination. Adding Joey on guitar has infused us with energy and confidence. They are both monster players and make our band tighter and heavier. The new songs have been twenty years in the making and reflect the sum of our learning and experience. The lyrics are very personal, positive and encouraging. The music is heavy and driving. The experience of making this record has been incredible on every level, far exceeding our expectations. We hope you can feel what we put into it when you hear the songs. We can’t wait to share it with you. Coming August 2109. See you out on the road. Peace and love.

They were not kidding. There is a new energy and confidence, the same fire and railing against political idiocy and manipulation set to a backdrop of vintage style thrash. There is a distinct flavor of old school production, with the resonance of the instruments being separate and distinct from soaring vocals to cowbell smashes.
Phil’s unique vocals are on great form and the band is tight.

Vocalist Phil Rind has said:

“Going into it, we had a loose idea as far as knowing that we wanted some fast, heavy songs to honour the old school fans that have supported us and got us to this point.

“We wanted everything to happen naturally – we didn’t want to force anything and we are super stoked with every song. It is easily the best thing we have ever done.

“Regardless of what happens with the record, the experience of making it was enough to satisfy us. Obviously we hope people like it, but even if it tanked, it could not change the way we feel about it. We know what we did.”

It sounds refreshingly organic, without the swamping of multiple layers. Simply thrash (predominantly), played well and with an intensity to inspire.

Opening with the militaristic stomp of lead single Awakening with it’s frenzied guitar riffery and general accessibility. The breakdown is executed exquisitely, do take the time to appreciate the skilful percussion. With a duration of four minutes and twenty seconds (lol) and such a simple, but effective chorus of

Lifting
Rising
Awakening
Living
Dying
Awakening

Check it out and sing along here

Divide and Conquer ups the ante still further, with speedy verses and a heavy groove of a chorus. Old school feels, with a modern polish. Salvation commences with a primal urgency, before Rind’s jubilant calls for deliverance in a track that leans heavily towards classic NWOBHM.

Things take a darker, heavier turn for the exquisite Manifest Reality. This was the second single to drop from the album and Rind has stated

“‘Manifest Reality’ is about overcoming mental obstacles and becoming the change we want to see in the world. No one is coming to save us. It’s up to us. The song is very positive and encouraging. “

The accompanying video is both beautiful and disturbing. A modernist ballet featuring extras from Silent Hill incorporating a modern take on The Exorcist spider walk set in a disused asylum? Designed to depict  “the struggle we face day to day, moment to moment in overcoming the habits we have created that hold us back. The conflict between our best and worst instincts. Releasing grief and overcoming isolation. The yearning for something better.” The video itself was directed by Mark Pellington (U2, Foo Fighters, Pearl Jam, Public Enemy) and it is an unexpected visual extravaganza.

“when I was young, I had to change the world; now I know I can only change myself”

Killing Machine opens full military tattoo style before kicking into a beast of a track that an instant ear worm while contemplating the true price of war. Death Valley is a groove laden, Southern boogie with a harder edge (and cowbell!) Unexpected, bloody marvellous and invigorating. The track has an almost late 90’s metal and grunge tinge and Rind’s voice is on fire. It’s over five minutes of unadulterated joy, with a riff that would be perfect for the return of the Raw Power metal show!

Revolution is a fantastically frantic call to arms, more like classic Sacred Reich but without falling into cliché’s. The syncopation will keep you on your toes alone, the message should too. Listen out for the cheeky Beatles clip. Something to Believe closes the album with aplomb. It’s powerful, euphoric and simply triumphant. I believe!

I’ll close with a final quote from Rind

“Going into it, we had a loose idea as far as knowing that we wanted some fast, heavy songs to honour the old school fans that have supported us and got us to this point. We wanted everything to happen naturally. We didn’t want to force anything and we are super stoked with every song. It is easily the best thing we have ever done. Regardless of what happens with the record, the experience of making it was enough to satisfy us. Obviously we hope people like it, but even if it tanked, it could not change the way we feel about it. We know what we did.”

Awakening is released today and can ordered from Amazon here or limited edition pressings can be ordered via Metalblade

  • Awakening
  • Divide and Conquer
  • Salvation
  • Manifest Reality
  • Killing Machine
  • Death Valley
  • Revolution
  • Something to Believe

SACRED REICH tour the UK in November with tickets on sale now. Dates run as follows.

Nov. 27 – London, UK – Underworld
Nov. 29 – Newcastle, UK – University
Nov. 30 – Glasgow, UK – Classic Grand
Dec. 1 – Belfast, UK – Limelight 2
Dec. 3 – Dublin, Ireland – Voodoo Lounge
Dec. 4 – Wolverhampton, UK – SteelMill


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