Despite being in existence since 1985, very little is known about the beginnings of Sacred Reich until Phil Rind took over vocal and guitar duties from original frontman, Dave Kelly.
After producing four albums and being credited as being part of the second wave of thrash metal, the band went on hiatus in 2000 only to re-emerge in 2006 with most of the original line-up still intact. Now with Dave Mclain (who joined Machine Head in 1995) back on drum duties and new member Joey Radziwill on guitars, they give us their latest release, ‘Awakening’.
The titular opening track thunders in with classic metal sentiment, with straight pounding rhythms backed by brief guitar solos and intermittent vocals. Stripped back to the bare bones rather than multi-layered and sharp guitar tones, it definitely harks back to the early 80s or 90s style of production.
Ramping up the positive energy, ‘Salvation’ brings in the party time lyrics that, rather than referencing any alcohol or substance abuse, focus on creating an emphatic atmosphere and raising the volume to maximum. Even the vocals from Rind are stripped back to their bare bones where effects like delay, reverb, or chorus might be used to emphasise impact or drama, and it instead maintains a pure authenticity.
Taking a thrash turn, ‘Revolution’ riots with punk mentality and rampant heavy guitar chords from Wiley Arnett and Radizwell, who traverse between stop-start riffs and speedy string hits. The change in speed and tact is a welcome breath of fresh air, as Mclain maintains a clean and accurate rhythm section, never letting anything ring out or run awry.
Reverting to modern stylings, ‘Killing Machine’ distinguishes the guitars, with each taking separate parts to create a dynamic sound. With solos ringing in the background, it creates an eerie sense of imminent demise.
While ‘Awakening’ is a classic experience in almost every sense, it does often sit back too much rather than taking a step up and confronting us with a direct scene of horror or carnage.