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After one of the most sold demo ever in thrash metal, and not only, field (Draining You Of Life), Sacred Reich in 1987 released their very first album that is still their best in my opinion. Here we can really breathe the true essence of thrash metal. The group is on pure adrenaline and the violence is always at high levels.
“Death Squad” is the perfect opener with a massive, bombastic mid-paced riffs that ends in a pure up tempo assault. The only slowest part is during the solo. Greg Hall is great behind the drums (he did an audition for the vacant place of drummer in Slayer after Lombardo left). “Victim Of Demise” is even faster than the previous song. Anyway the riffs are never boring because the guitars are always inspired and heavy. The pounding, clear production exalts all the instruments and the vocals are not too harsh.
“Layed To Rest” is a sort of intro to the title track. This intro is instrumental, with only arpeggios and solos. Very obscure and melodic. The title track is HUGE! My favourite song here, definitely. The mid-paced, apocalyptic intro is one of the heaviest things in thrash metal with the heavy drums stomps. The up tempo parts are like a river but never chaotic with lots of variations we have complicated guitar riffs/solos parts too.
Check out the bass/guitars parts in “No Believers”: speed, variations, technique, fast tempo. Awesome. “Violent Solution” begins very similarly to “Death Squad” to turn in speed. The mid-paced parts are full of strange solos. The speed ones come literally “out of the blue”! The beginning to “Rest In Peace” is tragic and apocalyptic, with a following drums march and hyper fast tempo.
The guitars riff on the title track get stuck in the head and won’t come out. This is the most important part in this album: the thrash violence is always balanced with melody and impressive sense of songwriting so that each song has something to be remembered for among a bunch of other ones in this genre.
A great album, made even greater by the very intelligent music and lyrics. This is the true masterpiece by Sacred Reich that any thrash metal fan must own. GREAT!
“…get up off your knees, there’s no God in heaven…”
DRI would release Crossover seven months prior to Ignorance and it seemed every offering that had an inkling of hardcore persuasion was automatically a crossover effort and vice versa. Some called it crossover, some called it the more obvious tag metalcore (much different than what it is nowadays), and while my eyes sparkle to the tune of thrash/speed, I have no dislike for most hardcore, therefore crossover/metalcore is quite acceptable in my world, though I am a bit thrown off when I read reviews of Ignorance, mostly recent ones, that dub the album a crossover event.
If Arizona’s Sacred Reich are a crossover band, it’s at the very fringes they dwell, perhaps as little as three toes in the hardcore realm while every other atom explodes with some of the most exciting, passionate, propulsive and true thrash the ‘80s had seen. The only things hardcore (in the style sense) about this 8-tracker are perhaps shavings of Phil Rind’s usually harsh, gruff monologue that in my opinion was always picture perfect for thrash and the socio-political/economic/government lyrical plots that hardcore bands often delved into, but at that time no style had a monopoly on lyrical themes.
Besides those pinches, I’m at a loss.
True proponents of thrash do not merely lurk here, they pounce, raking with honed, bloodied claws of unbridled eagerness and fervor. Hunks of memorable songwriting embedded on rhythmic meathooks swing as if served on a whirlwind, commanding even the most reactionary thrash protester with the authority of a thousand Huns. Four talented kids who knew what they wanted to do created all this, and as far as I’m concerned is a top shelf release.
Gratefully, no goofy intro starts off the band’s debut, but instead a controlled, deliberate rhythm churns “Death Squad” with intrinsic force primed but not yet proven until it’s finally unfurled with severe consequences. A thick concentration of power coalesces into rampant speeds and hauling riffs, creating a chorus only the Juggernaut could overcome. Breathlessly, “Victim of Demise” takes over, a near relentless blitzkrieg that would have the Afrika Corps saluting just for the grotesque lyrics alone. Much more savvy is the short “Layed to Rest”, a roughly elegant, guitar solo-entrenched ditty setting an impassioned frame of mind for what would slowly transform into the title cut, another tank of a song with the some of the more structured interludes thus far. Plenty of white-fisted groove bridges the speedier slices of “No Believers”, ending side one on the chorus’s bombastic strength.
More exchanging in their speed factor are “Violent Solutions” and “Rest In Peace” with the latter not only showcasing some nifty songwriting prowess, but also contains some of the band’s most cyclonic moments. “Sacred Reich” takes a striking, traditional rhythm a lot of bands could’ve conjured and fuses it with a might that many bands couldn’t have. “Administrative Decisions” is the basher that ends the lp, a steaming behemoth that doesn’t skimp on speed frenzy or mid-paced compression. I have little problem with Bill Metoyer’s production, believing it a crusty, solid achievement with perhaps the solo tracks needing to be magnified a bit.
There are a few examples of A-list thrash I throw on for those wanting to hear the style in its truest form. I like to stay away from the classics/well-known bands ‘cause everyone including my grandmother has heard them, so excerpts of Ignorance receive airtime along with Destructor’s Maximum Destruction, Pestilence’s Malleus Maleficarum, either of the Holy Terror platters, some Razor and a few others.
Ahh, Sacred Reich...I bought this when it came out, around late '86 or so, and it still holds up as one of the best American thrash albums released in that era. For what it lacks in the production department--the guitars are a bit cloudy, and the drums could have been not as thin--it makes up for with scalding amounts of steaming hot thrash fucking METAL. Production like this was pretty typical of thrash albums of this time period anyway.
"Death Squad" alone lets you know that you are in for some trouble with that menacing opening riff (Jason Rainey had a real knack for good riffs), and that fabulous opening sequence; mid tempo intro with pounding double kick drumming from the underrated Greg Hall (who almost got the drum chair for Slayer after Dave left the band--Kerry King was quoted as saying: "He looks like Barney Rubble, but damn, the man can JAM!!!"), some tricky syncopation thrown in, then once you get a good headbanging groove going...BAM! They kick it up a notch with chainsaw guitars and some vicious high-speed drumming from Mr. Hall, who shines all throughout this album. "Victim Of Demise" is more vicious thrashing highlighting Phil Rind's high-speed hardcore-like ranting about death and gore ( a rare subject with this band), and when I say hardcore, I mean the old school early 80s stuff, not this shitty metalcore garbage that the kids are losing their minds over these days. Sacred Reich were actually one of the first bands that made me start paying attention to lyrical content and being more discriminating in that field with their barbed sociopolitical commentary--again, a very old school hardcore tradition. Lead guitarist Wiley Arnette, another underrated player from this time, also shines throughout this whole album with killer soloing on every tune--and he was a devout Christian, too! Go figure, then, that he ripped so hard on guitar. "No Believers" has some of my favorite lyrics on the whole album: "The Bible is a lie, I defy the lying priest...I make my own destiny/Religion's for the weak, your soul will die forever/get up off your knees, there's no God in Heaven!"--in fact, Wiley was determined not to play on this song due to the lyrical content, but they railroaded him into it anyway!
Since most of their output after this album was weak and uninspired both lyrixcally and musically, this still stands as Sacred Reich's best and most consistent effort. If you're going to get anything of theirs, get this and take it fromt here if you must.