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Some people complained Sacred Reich had lost a lot of speed on the American Way album. No matter how much a statement like that might be true, it still was a thrash metal album, built around palm muted riffing but focussing much more on vocal lines and catchiness. I’ve always had a soft spot for the American Way. It remains one of those rare thrash metal albums with an overdose of midpaced songs that actually does work. The majority of the songs simply was that good! On Independent however we hear a band losing their grip. Not only qualitatively but also stylewise.
Thrash was pretty much dead around 1992, true, and the bands who didn’t call it quits went on playing watered down groove metal or whatever. Sacred Reich unfortunately were one of those and definitely not the best ones. Phil Rind was a great vocalist, charismatic and a great lyricist, but he alone was not enough to save the album. It’s pretentious groove which ruins the album and an almost total lack of aggression and energy on the non-fast material.
We have 4 good songs here, the title track "Independent", "Open Book", "Pressure" and "Do it". But somehow these songs sound different from the assault we had on Ignorance. Why’s that? These fast songs aren’t really thrash, they’re crossover. Good at that, but not thrash like the band played earlier.
And then there were a few songs with just good ideas but never reaching their full potential. Rhythmically the song "Product" was a great tune and "I Never Said Goodbye" had a good format and dynamics. The rest? The rest of the album consisted of groovy midtempo based music which made the album get boring after a while with "Just Like That" and "Crawling" being two of the worst and tedious songs in Sacred Reich history.
Now those 4 good energetic songs and those other two with nice ideas are reason enough for me to hold on to this album but I can imagine the average thrash metal collector not paying interest in this album. However I must say you’d be missing out on the titletrack which easily is one of the best Sacred Reich songs, ever.
The year was 1993 and the mainstream music scene was opening up to the idea of accepting heavier forms of music. Bands like Ministry, Helmet, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains and even Nirvana may not be metal bands but they all opened the ears of the mainstream crowd to music that's heavier than your standard MTV or radio programming would play.
Sacred Reich released this album that year and I remember the title track getting played almost weekly in MTV's Headbanger's Ball. "Independent" - the song is a throttling thrasher that pounds you senseless. I was psyched to find out that the album was released locally in my country.
True enough, repeated listenings of track one would bring similar results - each time sending me into a headbanging frenzy within nanoseconds. Then track two played and it bore a similar formula to the first single only not much better. Track three sounded the same and so on and so forth. What would break the monotony would be the slow, Sabbathy "Crawling" which was mildly interesting and the pseudo-ballad "I Never Said Goodbye" which fails being at being ballad because of Phil Rind's unconvincing vocals.
Thus, "Independent" turned out to be a monotonous experience. And the mainstream music scene didn't really warm up to heavy music at all. Ah, such disappointments...