Register Forgot login?

© 2002-2019
Encyclopaedia Metallum

Best viewed
without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
or higher.

Privacy Policy

The Royal Seal of Gayness (14th in class) - 22%

hells_unicorn, April 24th, 2016
Written based on this version: 1993, CD, Hollywood Records

Sometimes bad music can cause one to have an epiphany. This personal revelation, coming about often at the absolute nadir of a lousy song or an album, usually provides a fresh perspective on a fair amount of similar music. For a long time, I've tended to dislike both groove metal and other various forms of metal and heavier rock music that are readily associated with the early to mid 1990s, but there wasn't a singular word in my vocabulary that could convey why this was the case, but rather a lengthy diatribe that would involve tearing apart several key figures from that time period from Machine Head to Nirvana. But upon recent review of Sacred Reich's sad little third full length studio outing Independent (irony knoweth no bounds nor shame in how said name was applied), a single word came to mind that summed up the fatal flaw of the music contained within and the vast majority of its contemporary equivalents, and that word was reductive.

This album is often wrongly described as being a thrash metal album, though in truth, labels like half-thrash or groove metal also fail to account for the wavelength upon which this collection of sloppy, grunge meets semi-metal infused trite operates. It carries a fair bit in common with the plodding and stagnant character of early death n' roll offerings courtesy of mid to late 90s Six Feet Under and Entombed, being a bit faster and heavier than full out grunge excursions like Anthrax's Sound Of White Noise and the sordid alternative rock drivel on Load and Reload, but being about as elaborate as the latter categories in question and having a similarly grungy vocal display out of Phil Rind. Truth be told, the one strong point that this album carries is that Rind's vocals manage to all but perfectly emulate the bellowing baritone sound popularized by Layne Staley and Eddie Vedder, doing a far better job at it than Robb Flynn while on the subject.

But for all its general lack of intricacies and highly derivative overall character, the most outwardly offensive aspect of an album like this is the overt pandering it exhibits, even compared to the previous commercialized style shift that occurred on The American Way. There is nothing "independent" about the presentation of musical ideas on here, but rather an utter slavishness to an earlier past than the 80s thrash scene, poorly realized and reduced to banal imitation or, more often, fragments of past songs stretched out to the lengths of full length ones. This is perhaps best displayed in one of the so-called thrashers found on here in "Open Book", which kicks off a single rock riff on the bass in a manner reminiscent of nearly every other Nirvana song to enjoy regular MTV play, which is then copied by the guitars. While this riff does see some variation, it is so auspiciously close to being directly stolen from the fast section of Sabbath's "Electric Funeral" that it smacks the listener over the head even when it isn't being played, resulting in a song that somehow comes off like every Godsmack hit a good five years before they hit the airwaves.

The air of post-grunge before there was such a thing as post-grunge tends to recur fairly often on this album, though it's not quite the only factor in play. Among the somewhat more thrashing yet not fully thrash half-measures include stands opening speeder and title song "Independent", which would be a decent song if it were not so repetitive. This issue is similarly felt on other faster numbers like "Pressure" and "Do It", both of which have extremely similar sounding riffs to the other two aforementioned songs, resulting in a fairly one-dimensional experience, though to be fair, "Pressure" also makes some time for a really crappy Pantera-like breakdown. On the slower end of things are a full out nod to Pantera in "Free", bound up in a slightly more melodic package and with a sloppy ass lead guitar display. That's another thing about this entire album, former shred artist and technician Wiley Arnet (aka the guy who lit the fret board on fire at every lead break on Ignorance) finds himself sounding like a third rate rock guitarist, bound to bluesy cliches and occasionally sounding out of tune like a Fast Eddie Clarke with his fingers broken.

There isn't really much to be said for an album like this when all is said and done, as it is wholly a product of its time, and a crappy time at that if thrash metal is one's poison. When not outright ripping off ideas from grunge and groove outfits and dumbing them down even further with an eye to keeping their music videos on regular rotation on MTV (which incidentally ate this album up at the time), they even make time to write a really lame homage to Black Sabbath in "Crawling", which occasionally sounds like a cover of "Hole In The Sky", and decide to throw together an instrumental acoustic interlude called "If Only" that's suspiciously similar to Metallica's "Nothing Else Matters" yet bucks the trend of the rest of the album by being a bit more elaborate than its inspiration and becoming the best thing on here. This whole steaming pile of vapid, uninspired pandering would solidify any newcomer band's status as wannabes, which adds insult to injury as Sacred Reich falls more into the "has been" department as well. Fans of earlier works by this band see it as a fruitless departure from a working format and tend to hate it accordingly, whereas my hate for it tends to flow from general principle, as it should for anyone else.