Sacred Reich reissues classic albums
Now more than ever, it seems, the world need Sacred Reich.
Their outspoken position on the riots at Capitol Hill have put them at odds with some (former) fans who, we have to guess, just didn’t get the lyrics. Even in the very beginning “Death squad police of the right” should have been pretty informative on that front. However, we’re not here to talk politics today, so we’ll be keeping things thrash! With their first three official releases reissued February 12th, Phil Rind adds some insider info to our own retrospective views.
Sacred Reich – Ignorance (album)
Sacred Reich step onto the scene with heavy, full-thrash assault in their debut album, Ignorance.
With production handled by Bill Metoyer, who played a big part in the original Slayer sound, and their own lineup taking the same (though not unique) format, it’s not hard to anticipate some audible influence from at least one of ‘the big four’. This release certainly sat at the harder end of the genre in the late 80s, with thrash approaching peak mainstream acceptance, and cross-over rising in prevalence. SR, though, don’t seem to have been particularly interested in anything other than laying down a plethora of fast riffing and thumping beats. Within that, there are plenty of irresistibly solid hooks, and incredibly tight shredding. It definitely doesn’t sound as commercial as some in the same sphere at the time, but it’s very easy to see how this put them firmly on the map.
Were the band aware of how they were carving their place in the grander scheme of things, though? And were Slayer as significant an ingredient as we are imagining?
Phil Rind: Absolutely! Slayer and Metallica were easily our biggest musical influences. Lyrically it was more Corrosion Of Conformity, MDC (*Millions Of Dead Cops/The Stains – SDM*), etc. We just tried to do our best. We were happy that people dug Ignorance
Sacred Reich – Surf Nicaragua (EP)
Sacred Reich follow their debut album with an EP release, Surf Nicaragua.
This was back when labels seemed to push bands to get their first two long-players out in quick succession. It also feels a little more punky and tongue-in-cheek than its predecessor, and Phil himself comments “Surf had a sense of humor about it with the lyrics and Wipeout break.” It’s no less thrash, but it’s a slightly different flavour. In a way, it seems like there’s a little more Kill ‘Em All at play, than Reign In Blood. The whiff of comedy doesn’t take them as far down the route of thumbing the nose as the likes of SOD, but it is on a similar path. In all honesty, by the time you get to the pacey rendition of War Pigs, this kind of feels like you’re actually listening to a full album. Rounding it off with live recordings of Ignorance and Death Squad is simply gravy on the meat of what is already a pretty substantial short-player.
So, why did they end up with their second release taking the shorter format?
PR: It was what we had at the time. Metal Blade were hesitant to put out Surf Nicaragua. Their experience was that EP’s did not sell well. We were lucky and Surf was a bit of a breakthrough for us and allowed us to begin touring.
Then there’s the Sabbath cover. Were they trying to make reference to the origins of the thrash sound?
PR: We just love Black Sabbath.
Sacred Reich – The American Way (album)
Returning to more serious material, the boundaries of thrash are pushed, as the 1990s begin…
Listening back over these Sacred Reich reissues – The American Way in particular – it’s hard not to notice there are a couple of similarities to their fellow Arizonians, Flotsam & Jetsam. The thick, chuntering bass in the foreground. The staccato chunk/machine gun crossbreed riffs. Frequent, yet smooth alterations of tempo. Some of this could again be due to the continued Metoyer connection, as he also worked with F&J on most of their early releases. There are a good few ‘funky’ up-skip riffs throughout, which really get the head bopping. While keeping tight to their core, this shows excellent development and deviation on their own terms, and is a bit of a precursor to what has been noted as their more groove oriented 90s releases. Some major thrash artists experimented with more ‘pop’ leaning formats. Sacred Reich were among those employing more deeply musical twists.
From an insider perspective, Phil seems less convinced of any kind of unifying Phoenix sound, however. Or being tied into any collective musical direction for that matter.
PR: I don’t think there was a “Phoenix sound”, but I do think that not being from San Francisco or New York helped both bands do their own thing. I have often heard the “groove metal” term, but I am not sure what it means. We have always tried to add things to our music, and grow as a band from record to record. For us it was pretty natural.
All three Sacred Reich reissues are available from Metal Blade via regional outlets.