Written by Alex Stojanovic
Divide & Conquer
Something To Believe
SACRED REICH IS:
Phil Rind - Vocals & bass
Wiley Arnett - Lead guitars
Dave McClain - Drums
Joey Radziwill - Rhythm guitars
Release Date: August 23, 2019
Label: Metal Blade Records
Back in 2017, Sacred Reich started becoming more active with touring than they have in the previous years going back to their reformation in 2006. They did some touring in celebration of the 30th anniversary of Ignorance, which included shows in South America, Europe, and their first North American tour in 21 years. Ever since they reformed, the band have kept their stance on there being no new studio album, but low and behold, out of nowhere in late 2017, the band announced that they re-signed to Metal Blade Records, and a new studio album was officially in the works for a 2019 release. You never know what the future holds. The making of the album started off with the surprising announcement that the band parted ways with drummer Greg Hall.
The album is a fantastic combination of thrash and groove. People have already gotten a taste of the record with the title track. The official studio version was recently released to the public, but the band have also been playing the song live on their recent North American tour. The last section of the song is without a doubt one of the heaviest moments on the record. "Divide & Conquer" follows right after with another round of fast and aggressive riffing, making the first two tracks a great one-two punch to start off the record. As we continue down the record, tempos shift between the songs. There's the first two tracks, which are on the thrashier side, and then there's tracks like "Salvation" and "Killing Machine", which are more groove-oriented.
We now arrive at what is without a doubt the album's most melodic track, and that's "Death Valley". In a recent interview we did with Phil (watch here), he described the track as "the cheeriest song about death". He also mentioned that it has a different vibe, and he's definitely right about that, especially when you compare it to the rest of the record. The chorus is soaring, and you'll undoubtedly find yourself either humming along or singing along to it. It's also the longest track here, clocking in at nearly 5.5 minutes. Speaking of melody, one of my favourite moments on the album is the instrumental section between the two solo sections in "Salvation", because it has Iron Maiden written all over it. You'll understand exactly what I mean when you hear it.
There's plenty of moments that will throw old-school fans back to the old days. "Manifest Reality" sounds like it would be right at home on Ignorance. The mid-tempo intro that goes for a minute heads into a frenzied Slayer-esque riff. As a result, the track sounds like it pays homage to "Death Squad". While we're on the subject of thrash, "Revolution" is the shortest track on here, but it's the fastest. Clocking in at 2:48, it doesn't sit still for a second. It's relentless from start to finish. Lyrically, it's the album's political song, with the lyrics encouraging society to take action if they want change.
It's hard to find a flaw in this album. I think the only flaw to be found isn't a major one at all, which is the fact that some people may be annoyed by the fact that there's only 8 tracks. I will admit, when I first received the album, I was kind of surprised myself that there were only 8 tracks. I was expecting maybe 10 or 11 tracks, but as I mentioned before, sometimes less is more. There's a lot of albums that have 13 tracks, and only 8 or 9 are great, while the rest are a bunch of fillers. Awakening certainly leaves you wanting more, which is always the sign of an amazing record. After 23 years, Sacred Reich deliver a stunning new album full of hooks and serious riffs, with a very respectable amount of melody thrown in for good measure. Does this mean that there will be more new music from them in the future? I certainly hope so, because Awakening is proof that they still got it.
Highs: Eight quality new tracks from one of the most respected names in thrash.
Lows: When you get to the end, you're craving for more.