The last time Sacred Reich released an album, the Twin Towers were still standing, the internet was in its infancy, mobile phones were the playthings of big business folk and the idle rich and The Phantom Menace was a nagging itch that George Lucas hadn’t even thought about scratching. During the twenty three years since Heal, Phoenix’s favourite thrash sons turned their amps off retreated to suburbia and attempted to live relatively average, everyday lives. They tried to be “normal” and be just like everyone else, but it just didn’t take. The problem was, Sacred Reich are thrashers; and once a thrasher, always a thrasher.
Thrash is insidious and once it’s wormed its way into your heart, much like the eventual icy grip of death, there’s no escaping it. It stays with you forever , whispering sweet, seductive chugga chugga filled nothings in your ear about the nerve tingling, adrenaline filled joys of stage diving and slamming. There’s only so much of those saccharine, bewitching falsehoods that even the most string willed before they acquiesce, surrendering themselves forever to thrash’s eternal embrace. Just when they thought they were out, Sacred Reich was dragged back in and began doing what they did best. They started thrashing again.
Even though thy swore when they returned to playing shows in the latter half of the opening decade of the twenty first century that they wouldn’t release any more music, those of us who had also been tainted by thrash’s touch knew better. We knew that it would only be a matter of time until a new record bearing the Sacred Reich moniker appeared and even though they held out longer than most of their reunited brethren and peers, ten years later Awakening has finally materialised and proved us right. The burning question though, the one that’s been whispered in hallowed thrash circles since the news that Sacred Reich were recording a new album initially broke, remains the same – Is Awakening any good? Was the wait worth it?
The short answer is yes and the longer answer is… You’re damn right it was worth waiting for. Picking up where they left off with Independent Sacred Reich have delivered a driving, punishing thrash fuelled classic that’ll please fans both old and new and leave their contemporaries seething with jealousy. Effortlessly harnessing the power laden groove of early seventies Sabbath with the intensity of late eighties thrash Awakening is the record that the Black album should, and could, have been. Sure, it’s lighter on the gas than Ignorance and Surf Nicaragua were, but it’s heavier, sharper and more focussed, both musically and lyrically, than those early records were and almost completely obliterates the memory of Heal. Songs like Death Valley, Salvation and Revolution are destined to not only become live favourites and assume their rightful place in the pantheon of Sacred Reich’s finest moments, they also demonstrate a hunger and energy that bands half their age would struggle to match and emulate. Awakening is a stunning return to form and the sound of a band who have only just started to show the world who they really are and what they can do… Tim Cundle