Album Review: SACRED REICH Awakening
According to Greek mythology, the Phoenix dies in a fire only to be reborn from the ashes. Many cultures have their own interpretation of this tale that symbolizes resurrection and renewal. This legend of antiquity also has relevance here in 2019. Another Phoenix, the city located in the arid landscapes of Arizona, contains a rebirth of a different sort. Thrash metal veterans Sacred Reich have reemerged in this time of turmoil and uncertainty. Awakening, their first release in over two decades isn’t just a band making a return. It’s a statement that the world has been in desperate need of.
Prominent throughout the late 1980s and early 90s, Sacred Reich weren’t content to simply crank out anthems for disenfranchised youth. Metal has always had its hands grasping at the throat of the establishment in all its forms. Sacred Reich had their finger on the pulse of important issues that shaped the time period. Songs such as "Surf Nicaragua" depicted American imperialism in Latin America with a cynical edge. Socially conscious in a decade known for excess and decadence, the band held a mirror up to the darker side of the American dream. They’ve returned to do the same again, and the reflection isn’t one of beauty.
From the opening moments of Awakening, Sacred Reich establish themselves as a group who haven’t grown soft with age. The title track possesses all of the anger and discontent that was present on their earlier releases. Drummer Dave McCain and new guitarist Joey Radziwill provide a driving force behind Phil Rind’s vocals. With all guns blazing, they don’t hold back from addressing the important matters of the day. "Killing Machine" vividly depicts the endless death toll that comes from war. With the unrelenting speed on "Revolution," Rind’s lyrics describe the complacency of the average American and a call to arms amongst those who are fed up. "Manifest Reality"—a positive message of individuality and chorus of “Be the change you want to see”—harkens back to anthems such as "Inner Self" by Sepultura.
Aside from lyrical content, Sacred Reich demonstrate their effectiveness and solid cohesion as a unit. On "Divide and Conquer "and "Salvation," in particular, the group weave in between lightning-fast thrash rhythms and groove-oriented choruses. Not once do they become needlessly repetitive or tedious. This incarnation of the band is more refined and focused than ever. This is justified aggression with a purpose, born from the tempest of a harsh political climate.
By refusing to compromise the sound they developed early on, Sacred Reich have stayed true to both themselves and their message. With hatred and strife on the rise, they have thrown down the gauntlet to take a stand against the narrow mindedness that’s permeating in America. If there ever was a band that needed to return, it’s them. As an album, Awakening lives up to its title in every conceivable way. In both content and form. There will always darkness before the dawn, and Sacred Reich provides the soundtrack to a hopeful future.