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The once bright shining star of Sacred Reich was already sinking at the time of the publication of "Heal". Too many reorientations, too few killer tracks had led to a distanced relationship between wide parts of the scene and the formation. Everybody knew that an intelligent guy like Phil Rind was gifted with an enormous degree of creativity, but it was also well known that he failed to transform it into good songs. "Heal" became the last act of this tragedy. In spite of its name, it was not able to heal the wounds of the past. Rather the opposite was the case. The album made clear that Rind and his comrades had lost sight of their fundamental direction. It sounded heterogeneous, torn and aimless. No doubt, it was significant that "Who Do You Want to Be?", the only cover version of the full-length, was among its best pieces. Admittedly, it would be hyperbolic to say that we were confronted with a bunch of musicians in agony. Nevertheless, nobody could deny that the guys needed a (faith) healer, and the sooner the better. But all more or less trustworthy doctors had seemingly been on vacation. Bad luck for Sacred Reich.
Despite its flaws, and this illustrates the full extent of a career gone wrong, the meandering "Heal" deserves a higher rating than its predecessors. The main reason for this is the closer. After ten songs that covered the range from lousy (the whining "Low") to acceptable (the fairly aggressive "Break Through"), "The Power of the Written Word" delivered all the stylistic devices that we had missed before. The double bass thunderstorm, the high degree of pressure and dynamism, the sharp guitars and the powerful vocals formed a thrash metal diamond. Why didn't they write more songs with a comparable focus? Ten or eleven specimen of this style and quality would have been a grand finale. Thrash metal had originally been their core competency, but these confused minds wanted to show us their broad-based musicianship, no matter what it costs. A nice example for the stupidity of mankind. Another one was constituted by the lyrics of the opener. I have no sympathy for racists, but lines like "Bullet is the only way you'll learn / A bullet in your fucking head" seemed to be adopted from their party program. As mentioned above, I am sure that mastermind Rind isn't stupid, but this made the here presented bullshit all the more incomprehensible.
It goes without saying that Metal Blade had the financial resources to release a well produced album. Perhaps a little bit too polished, but neither ill-defined nor slack. Anyway, the flaws of the song material could not be erased by the professional support of the experienced producer team. Nevertheless, Bill Metoyer and Brian Slagel had done a good job - and nobody had expected something different. Yet all these details became unimportant in the light of the wasted potential of a group that had started with a very promising debut. Sacred Reich did not leave the scene with a big bang. They just disappeared silently. Congratulations, that's a much better option than releasing dozens of despondent works that will never reach the quality of the early works. Greetings to Flotsam and Jetsam.
During most of the 1980s thrash metal was the one doing the thrashing, but for the lion's share of the 1990s this most crude yet beloved of art forms was the sad subject of much thrashing at the hands of John Q label executive. Front and center among the ranks of those that opted to succumb rather than hang it all up was Sacred Reich, an Arizona based outfit that made a respectable splash in 1987 after the mold of the darker side of the Bay Area sound in Ignorance before proceeding a gradual process of maturing their sound, "maturing" naturally being a code word for self-castration. At the tail end of their sub-par to downright pathetic showing in the 90s is Heal, an album that continues the practice of modernizing in the same way that Independent had three years prior, ergo dumbing down an already simplified style to the point of contrived monotony in a fashion typical of Pantera and Annihilator at around the same time.
One positive thing that can be said for this album, at least in relation to the last one, is that it is a bit more consistent in where it wants to go, namely in the Pantera direction. For a band that expresses a consistently left-wing political message, damned if they didn't just ape about every idea typical to the southern groove character of Dimebag Darrell and other sludgy acts associated with Phil Anselmo's various side projects, to the point where this could almost be a poor man's The Great Southern Trendkill, minus the good parts. It definitely has a heavy, albeit mechanical aesthetic, and perhaps a slightly greater degree of emphasis on the faster side of the groove coin as Annihilator's Refresh The Demon, particularly on songs like "Blue Suit, Brown Shirt", "Break Through" and the more punk infused "Don't". Sadly the songs come off as even less engaging, being more fast for the sake of it without any sense of busyness that usually goes with a fast thrasher, and even the guitar soloing work comes off as a bit lazy, though thankfully less sloppy and out of tune as what was heard on Independent.
While this thing manages to pick up a couple points for coming off as a tad bit less grungy and plodding than its predecessor, it cancels almost all of it out with a near equal degree of monotony in songwriting, treading waters that were basically being tread everywhere circa 1996 with no accounting for distinctiveness. This can arguably be best demonstrated by the lame, groovy southern rocker "Ask Ed", an ode to pot smoking that listens more like an ode to bestiality on the bayou. Phil Rind does pull off a competent John Bush imitation on here with shades of Anselmo, while the leads do occasionally become engaging with an assortment of bluesy meandering, but the skeleton of this song is way too contrived to survive multiple listens. Other mid-paced plodders like "Low" and "Heal" draw from the Pantera well with even less accounting for subtlety and come off as even more contrived. Perhaps the lone exception where things get kind of engaging is the Oingo Boingo cover, which is reinterpreted in more of a hardcore punk meets Vulgar Display Of Power fashion but manages to be kind of fun in spite of itself.
For the life of me, I can not understand the inordinate amount of praise this album receives in various metal outlets in relation to relatively tepid praise or lukewarm reception of Independent as this is basically the same boring collection of repetitive drivel but with a slightly meatier guitar sound. It flows in one ear and then back out the other, sounding like just about every other Pantera knock-off that came and went between 1993 and 1998, and wouldn't even have been a memory had it not come out of a band that had already made a name for itself doing something better. There is a reason why none of these songs ever enjoy a position on any of Sacred Reich's live releases, and there is also a reason why this didn't get a follow up, as this band probably killed any credibility they had with their original core audience. Don't be misled by the brutal looking album cover, this has all the intensity and metallic luster of a head of rotten lettuce.
Had the band released this album in ’92-’93 instead of Independent, they might have held on to a few more fans. They might have, but who can be sure. This album sounded a lot more like Sacred Reich anyway and the more aggressive material had more in common with thrash than the crossover ideas on Independent.
‘Blue Suit Brown Shirt’, ‘Break Through’, ‘Don't’, ‘See Through my Eyes’, ‘I Don't Care’ and the marvellous ‘The Power of the written Word’ are the songs which would please any old school Sacred Reich fan such as myself. Especially ‘Blue Suit Brown Shirt’ and ‘The Power of the written Word’ contain more aggression by themselves than their previous album in total. Unfortunately none of these good songs reaches the brilliance of, let’s say, Death Squad or Surf Nicaragua but they do come damn close to the average quality of their earliest releases.
‘Who do You want to Be’ is a sweet Danny Elfman song which the band performs in a danceable way and this song comes remarkably close to the crossover tune ‘Pressure’ from the Independent album. But lo and behold there were a few of those annoying groove tunes here. ‘Heal’, ‘Low’ and ‘Ask Ed’ fill the rest of the album and I wish they’d just released an EP with the earlier mentioned 6 tunes.
Only partially returning to their roots and secondly releasing the album without their famous band logo, makes me remember this piece as just an average footnote in their history. Quite depressing to watch this band vanish slowly over the years. Curse you, damn nineties!
Sacred Reich did only one great album, “Ignorance”. The following albums showed a different kind of metal that I cannot define as thrash metal, but more as a form of half-thrash with groove. So, to me total crap. I've always read quite good comments (if not exceptional) about this “Heal” and I decided to listen to it. Well, if the groove period has passed a bit, here we can find some good elements that anyway cannot be compared to the awesome first album.
Here we can find more hardcore influences in their sound with some viruses from the groove past. The songs, fortunately are not so long, so the band can concentrate the energy in a short length. The things I dislike here are the vocals: in Pantera/recent Metallica style, without the angry and powerful thrash tone. The tempo since the beginning track “Blue Suit, Brown Shirt” is groove oriented.
The guitars sound is not too bombastic and quite thrash anyway but the way they play the instruments contributes in creating an half thrash pounding sound. The tempo on the title track is stoner while “Break Through” or “Don’t” are more energetic but is difficult to call this thrash. Again, the stoner rock tempo is well stuck in “Ask Ed” with quite good solos. I believe that the final “The Power Of The Written World” is the more o thrash metal oriented song here with good tempo and riffage.
Anyway, if you like true thrash, avoid this one. It’s not bad but done by Sacred Reich it’s difficult to enjoy…again: only one masterpiece in their discography.
Of all the more notorious thrash bands from the late 80's and early 90's, Sacred Reich were certainly not one of the better acts. However, while keeping an open mind and allowing a band the opportunity to always redeem themselves, this album manages to do just that. With the release of Heal, Sacred Reich have finally managed to release a consistent thrash metal album that is just as well produced as the actual musical arrangements. Overall this album is not "amazing", but is certainly great! By point of fact, just about every song on this album is worthy to be heard, and the performances of the band members themselves is far better than what is found on all of their previous recordings. I think one of the most beneficial turning points for this band is when they managed to aquire drummer Dave McLain into their ranks, who went on to play with Machine Head after Kris Kontos left. Dave's drumming on this album is rather impressive, especially in the double bass department where his expertise of both speed and intricacy is very well represented.
This album also seems to be a little more aggressive in the lyrical department, as its a much more "in your face" type of record. Check out the tracks Blue Suit, Brown Shirt, Don't, I Don't Care, and The Power of The Written Word. Phil's lyrics definately lean towards a rebelious realm and the message is lound and clear...Fuck You!
This album is actually very heavy, both in terms of actual songs as well as the production, there seems to be alot of bottom end, and that's definately a good thing.
The only major downfall is that although the riffs are pretty decent, the leads for the most part aren't anything special, and often the structures of the solos sound rather recycled after awhile.
Overall a decent Thrash metal album with some very memorable tunes, Highlights are; Blue Suit, Brown Shirt, Heal, Low, and The Power of The Written Word.
Sacred Reich were never brilliant. Some people may try to fool you into thinking that they were some sort of a revolution, but this is hardly the truth. Sacred Reich always did play a somewhat appealing mix of meaty almost-thrash metal that could often entertain me if I was in the right mood. The release "Heal" is no different than the previous albums.
No songs really stand out here, it's the typical "half-mosh" beat done with finesse, skill and fun with some of the typical lyrics that the band hash out on every record. Thankfully, the band haven't changed enough on this release to make me care more or less than I did before. The songs may just make you bang your head...which is the point of metal anyhoo right?
Don't buy this if you are looking for the best metal ever released. This is hardly such...but it's a fun listen if you find it in the used/delete bin with an extra $5 to spare. I don't know how Sacred Reich ever got to be called "legendary" in some circles, but they were a GOOD band in their time.
Pick it up if you find it cheap.
Sacred Reich is one of those bands that deserved more attention but were just always in the background compared to other thrash bands of the time. I heard of them when I saw a video on LOUD and then I learned that Dave McClain from machine head played drums for them at one point. So I tracked down their cds and I'm glad I did, though they aren't exactly mindblowing or anything new & creative.
Heal is their last studio album and its better than their last cd, Independent. It opens with one of the fasted paced songs on the cd and the lyrical content deals with racism. Then is slows down in the next song, but picks up again by track 3. This is one of the faults of the cd, as it doesn't stay consistent. Then there is song 6, Jason's Idea, which is just 39 seconds of wasted space, with the band apparently smoking up, leading into the next song.
This cd is decent and has its good fast songs, like the opening track or the closing track and some good tracks in the middle, but only a few songs are actually thrash. If you've just gotten into SR, listen to this first, as its a mostly a different sound than their earlier stuff.