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This is going to sound so typical but I preferred "Ignorance" over this album, and although this album has gained a relatively good reception and probably just skims the "thrash classic" tag, I have to admit this record never got much playtime from me. It's not an aysmal record, it's not like they sold-out, in fact if I'm being honest this record probably is good and it's not a far stretch of the imagination to see someone like me enjoying this album, but for the most part it has just rubbed me up the wrong way and it still does today. It is hard for me to put my finger on the issue, as to why this record doesn't achieve much for me. The songs are memorable, but they seem rather restrained and a little dull. The record isn't even over-experimental minus "31 flavours", but I'm pretty sure thrash or cross-over was never meant to be this pedestrian. Yes that's right I said it, this album lacks any spark and demands little response from the listener, and as far as I can remember thrash was once raw, subversive, radical and revolutionary. One listen to this album and a question mark goes straight over those supposed accolades.
"Love...hate" kicks off the album and there is no denying it is memorable, it just does not provoke much from the listener. It picks up with "American way", and even "The way it is" is tolerable but this is perhaps as good as it gets and these still aren't winners on their own. "State of emergency" is really long-winded and dull, again it is well polished and easy on the ears but where the fuck did all the conviction from the previous album go? "Who's to blame" is a cheesy half-ballad with some really mediocre and predictable lyrics, and what makes it worse is that Phil Rind sounds like he is bleeding his heart out, but does not have the vocal range for listeners to take this really seriously. "I don't know" seems to capture the most mediocre chugging riffs from the previous tracks, and just after over three minutes of it's arrival you're left thinking "What was that? I should have skipped that one." Oh and let's try not to get our knickers in a twist too much over what is coming next..."31 flavours" showcases an abysmal funk-ridden parody in an attempt to show how metal they are, by reaching out to their non-metal influences. Comedy only goes down well in thrash providing you've got better material to back it up. After enduring "The American Way" I really don't think any body has time for a funk track which makes "I'm the man" seem flawless. So what you like Faith No More and The Red Hot Chilli Peppers, but at least those bands aren't attempting "thrash" and god forbid the thought.
It seems odd that Phil Rind loves this record and think it perfectly captures what Sacred Reich "are", and as a fan I do wish they would stop pushing "Ignorance" to one side and just admit how good that record was. By 1990 thrash had slowed way down, and Sacred Reich seemed to have succumbed to the outside pressure of the thrash scene. But bare in mind bands like Razor kept pumping out relentless speedy thrash with "Violent resitution" in 1988 and "Shotgun justice" in the same year 1990, yet Razor are for the most part over-looked and when people dig deeper than the big four bands like Sacred Reich get uncovered and praised, which is annoying considering how inconsistent their discography was after "Ignorance". I'm not saying you wont like this album, a lot does go in it's favour and even the production is pretty good. But in 1990 I wasn't quite ready for thrash to throw the towel in yet, bands were slowing down and I hadn't even burned out from the speedier stuff yet. Had this album been released two or three years later then it sure would have looked like a diamond in the rough. But does "The American Way" pass thrash standards for 1990? I don't think it really does, but many would disagree but I wont budge on this one..."The American Way" is average and although catchy riffs spring up there is never that one brilliant riff that blows your socks off. The thrash high had peaked leaving us with an unexpected and unwanted come down, and this album represents this akward time perfectly.