Sacred Reich – Re-issues

Sacred Reich – Re-issues
Ignorance/Surf Nicaragua/The American Way

Sacred Reich – Re-issues
Ignorance/Surf Nicaragua/The American Way
Metal Blade Records
Release Date: 12/02/2021
Running Time: 42:33/26:03/56:00
Review by Simon Black

Sacred Reich are one of those influential second wave Thrash bands who for some reason never become as huge as their initial direction of travel indicated and were buried by the 1990’s. After a twenty-three year gap, 2019 saw the release of the aptly titled ‘The Awakening’ and pretty darn good to hear from them again after all this time it was too. Not to let a little thing like a total stoppage of all things live get in the way of their revival plans, Metal Blade have decided to re-release those seminal first three releases from the late 80’s for a wider audience so people can see what all the fuss was about. I don’t think I ever caught these guys live first time round, but I certainly still have vinyl from back in the day and the chance to hear these beauties cleaned up and remastered for this decade was not one I was going to turn down the opportunity to share my thoughts on with you lovely people.

“Ignorance” is where this all really started as their first full album back in 1987, and is probably just as politically relevant in this post-Trump world as it was when it was originally released. Just to hammer the point home, vocalist Phil Rind recently made it quite clear that supporters of the orange one are not welcome. I don’t think anything summarises this band better than the blistering anger of the title track, the absolute art of blistering shredding that is ‘Rest In Peace’ and the slab-like heaviness of album opener ‘Death Squad’, the first few bars of which probably best define 2nd Wave Thrash for me in those opening two minutes of ruthless technical efficiency. It was brilliant then, and it’s still brilliant and relevant now.

“Surf Nicaragua” from that tongue in cheek whistle of descending bomb madness introduction the title track of this EP, was actually the first song I ever heard from these guys way back when. With its thrash pastiche of the Surfaris ‘Wipe Out’ this is pure late 80’s Thrash irreverence with a loaded political back bite at its best. Anthrax gave us the Bermuda shorts, these guys gave us a song to wear them to. It was a guaranteed mosh pit raiser when I used to DJ and it sounds just as fun then as now and suddenly I feel 18 again. To be fair this EP was all about this song, rather than the covers and live fillers that follow, and it did a huge amount to raise their profile at the time, even if it did convince most people that these guys were from Florida or California instead of Phoenix, Arizona, but then that sort of misdirection is rather the whole point of what they are about politically. It’s worth buying for this track alone, and the remaster cleans it up beautifully whilst losing none of the freshness that made it work so well in 1988.

“The American Way” is politically far more forward and clear in its intent. It’s also a more mature and in many ways richer release than its two predecessors. At the time I was less impressed with its measured delivery, but thirty years later I can appreciate that it was ahead of its time in many ways – although it’s still nowhere near as infectiously catchy as “Ignorance” or balls out (hanging slightly out of the trouser leg of the Bermuda shorts) as “Surf Nicaragua”. The Information Age has come and gone since this was released, and the oft-ridiculed PMRC (the subject of the classic ‘Who’s To Blame’) may be political history now, but the underlying trend of conservatism that these liberal Thrashers loathe makes this just as relevant in the Disinformation Age.

This does not feel like a cash-in situation as more of a pertinent reminder that the more things change, the more they stay the same. These albums strike me as just as relevant and enjoyable as they were originally and it’s been an absolute treat to revisit them again. You know what to do…

Ignorance (1987)
01. Death Squad
02. Victim Of Demise
03. Layed To Rest
04. Ignorance
05. No Believers
06. Violent Solutions
07. Rest In Peace
08. Sacred Reich
09. Administrative Decisions
10. Ignorance (Metal Massacre VIII)

Surf Nicaragua (1988)
01. Surf Nicaragua
02. One Nation
03. War Pigs
04. Draining You Of Life
05. Ignorance (Live)
06. Death Squad (Live)

The American Way (1990)
01. Love…Hate
02. The American Way
03. The Way It Is
04. Crimes Against Humanity
05. State Of Emergency
06. Who’s To Blame
07. I Don’t Know
08. 31 Flavors

Phil Rind – Bass/Vocals
Wiley Arnett – Lead Guitar
Jason Rainey – Rhythm Guitar
Greg Hall – Drums


Sacred Reich Re-issues

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Simon Black and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

The Records That Changed The Life Of A Normal Boy And Turned Him (Eventually) Into The Verbose Horror That Is Known As ‘Dark Juan’.

The Records That Changed The Life Of A Normal Boy And Turned Him (Eventually) Into The Verbose Horror That Is Known As ‘Dark Juan’.

Hi Everyone, It’s Rick. It’s time to bring you another of our special pieces to cope with self-isolation. So far, we’ve had a video from Victor and fiction from ‘Dark Juan’ and Beth.

Now ‘Dark Juan’ presents you with a, hugely entertaining, piece introducing you to some of his favourite ever albums. Be afraid…be very, very afraid!

Once upon a time in a dirty little mill town just outside of Manchester, there was a sweet young boy.  That sweet young boy grew up in a happy home and happily went about his business and bought some records. His parents should have known better than to have let him because their Middle years were subjected to a LOT of heavy metal. It was payback for the years of child abuse he had suffered being forced to listen to Patsy fucking Cline and reggae. Then he dressed in black, found and lost religion, acquired illicit underage tattoos and developed a frankly worrying taste for Thunderbird and MD 20/20 “wine” (I use the term loosely because anyone who can drink Thunderbird and not instantly vomit it up back on the spot is either a) alcoholic, b) has no taste buds left, or c) a teenage simpleton who would pour anything down his neck if it had alcohol in it) and girls in Naval uniform.

This, then, is a selection of some of the records that really did change the life of your favourite hellpriest and madman. As a disclaimer – not all of these records are heavy metal records. If you expand your minds, my most metal pilgrims, you may discover that there are all manner of dark delights for your delectation…

The Sisters Of Mercy – First And Last And Always (1985).

Radcliffe Library has much to answer for. I borrowed this cassette tape from there and was forever lost to the world of popular music. Granted, Iron Maiden (more on that later) had already riveted my teenage attention but nothing and no one spoke to my twisted black heart the way the Gothfather Andrew Eldritch did. Sublime lyrics, frequently sinuous and lascivious by degrees and musically a deep black hole of forlorn hope and lost love. The Sisters Of Mercy will always be my favourite band. Every record is classic, every song perfect. Yes, even “Wide Receiver”. This album’s highlight is the closing song, ‘Some Kind Of Stranger’. A heartbroken howl into the night for a love that’s lost.

Iron Maiden – Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son (1988).

THE record that kicked a lifetime of heavy metal off. Swapped for a Pet Shop Boys best of album with my next-door neighbour, Paul Manning. Two copies on cassette tape were worn out from constant playing and the Mother of Dark Juan was delighted at the teenage howling from my sanctum attempting to emulate the soaring vocals of Bruce Dickinson and hitting all the right notes, just in the wrong order. There were salvos of potatoes slung at the door of my eyrie in increasingly desperate efforts to get my attention and stop the pitiful caterwauling emanating from within. Metal did its job splendidly! Stand out track – ‘Infinite Dreams’. Simply the perfect Iron Maiden song. Intelligent and sprawling.

Cradle Of Filth – The Principle Of Evil Made Flesh (1994).

A shockingly romantic record even though it is avant-garde black metal. This album sounded like nothing else I had ever heard upon its release. Incredibly fast, with doom laden passages and the visceral howl of Dani underpinned with spooky keyboards and songs dealing with love, vampires, evil and sex. Dani shows a superhuman lyric writing talent and the drumming of Nick Barker just floored me at the time. It’s still my favourite Cradle record and although it lacks the almost Vaudevillian quality and decent production jobs of later records it is still a record that will rip your face off but make love to your bleeding corpse. Stand out song is ‘The Black Goddess Rises’. Vampires and romance. Perfect.

Coven – Witchcraft Destroys Minds And Reaps Souls (1969).

Debut from the original Metal Queen Jinx Dawson and her motley bunch in 1969, this is Satanic psychedelia of the most innovative kind. Jinx’s voice is well forward in the mix, but the joy of this record is the happy clappy music transposed with the darkest of dark lyrics and a 13-minute Satanic ceremony recorded as a bonus. Which is also unintentionally hilarious. If you want to find the roots of heavy metal, this record is one of them and if you seek out Sir Lord Baltimore’s first record (the one with Naglfar on the cover) and Black Sabbath’s self titled debut you have the three main elements of metal right there at its birth.

VNV Nation – Of Faith, Power And Glory (2009).

And this is where we go screamingly off-piste, dear friends. This is the group that (because my friend Cafrin had randomly given me a copy) awakened me to the possibility of other forms of music being just as powerful as heavy metal. By turns bombastic, ballsy, soft, gentle, heartbroken and fucking raging, this is the first electronic music record to interest me. Several cybergoth gigs later I was an absolute convert to EBM, futurepop (what this record is classed as) and aggrotech.  VNV Nation are fucking awesome. Stand out song is Tomorrow Never Comes. Violent jackhammer beats bludgeon you into submission as singer Ronan asks why peace can’t be celebrated as victory.

Carcass – Reek Of Putrefaction (1988).

The vinyl that got my parents REALLY worried about what I was doing in my inner sanctum! Three vegan Scousers making the most visceral noise ever committed to vinyl at that time and a record cover that was as staggeringly inventive as it was shocking and sickening. A perfect metaphor and visual representation of the horrors lurking within. Also a source of much hilarity at song titles like Vomited Anal Tract.

Morbid Angel – Blessed Are The Sick (1991).

THE quintessential death metal album from a band at the peak of its powers when their scene was the biggest thing in metal. A golden age of brutality and sonic terror. Everything about this record was death metal perfection from David Vincent’s bark to the fractured soloing of Trey Azagthoth and Richard Brunelle. Complex, rapid and yet another reason for Dark Juan’s progenitors to wonder what the fuck was going on in my teenage bedroom, as my youthful wailing a la Bruce Dickinson gave way to an earth fracturing grunt which sounded in no way similar to the music I was playing. Stand out track is the title song. A magnificent beast!

The Berzerker – The Berzerker (1995).

Still the most violent and brutal record I have ever heard with possibly the world’s fastest drummer. This blew me clear into the next county when I heard this absolute beast of a record. Imagine insane gabba techno having filthy, blood soaked sado-masochistic sex involving blades and bullwhips and forced imprisonment with the most visceral and violent death metal around and add distorted 909 kick drums and you have The Berzerker. Australian madmen who really should be locked away for the good of humanity but an absolute landmark in the landscape of extremity. Stand out tracks – ‘Forever’, ‘Reality’ and ‘February’, the theme song of Dark Juan.

Gunship – Dark All Day (2018).

Current obsession of Dark Juan, this synthwave band conjure images of neon-soaked 80’s nights, technicolour splatter films and cool breezes on the Miami strip. This is only a front, however, as Gunship deal with the dark and seedy underbelly of all the art-deco and pink neon around you. Musically light and melodic, the lyrical content is dark, murderous and frankly a musical version of Patrick Bateman from American Psycho. It is absolutely incredible songwriting and electronic passion mixed with a true rock and roll aesthetic and that makes it wonderful. Stand out songs are the title track (If you can watch the video it makes it even more special) and ‘Thrasher’.

Blood Ceremony – The Eldritch Dark (2013).

Another recent record that has gripped my soul and just will not let go. A combination of Sabbathian riffing and Jethro Tull style flute playing mixed with lyrics influenced by Wicca and other esoteric subject matter. It is fair to say that Dark Juan fell in love with the voice of Alia O’ Brien and her clear, waspish vocal is the perfect foil to the melodious music she sings over, and the flute she plays is a welcome addition to the metal. It fits surprisingly well! Stand out tracks are ‘Lord Summerisle’ and ‘Goodbye Gemini’.

Combichrist – What The Fuck Is Wrong With You People? (2007).

My first taste of proper aggrotech. Slammingly powerful and more often than not sickeningly violent, Combichrist deal in the worst nightmares you can have, including violent sex, serial murder, rampant drug abuse and every degradation you could think of performing on another human being, set to a soundtrack of pounding steel electronic industrial mayhem. The gut churning roar of Andy LaPlegua adds a very metal dimension to a group who could arguably be described as an electronic metal band – even flirting with metal on the Devil May Cry soundtrack album. Sheer physical attack in musical form and a hell of a live act. Stand outs – ‘What The Fuck Is Wrong With You?’, ‘Paint The Town Red’, ‘Shut Up And Swallow’.

The Damned – Phantasmagoria (1985).

Thanks to two compilation pop albums in the vein of Now That’s What I Call Absolute Shite Vol. 3289 called “Out Now” and “Out Now II”, young Dark Juan was drawn towards the very left field stylings of The Damned. Not the punk Damned, a bizarre post punk goth hybrid of the Damned. I played Grimly Fiendish until the record wore out. And then bought the album and wore that out too. My love of all things goth started here, from melodious baritones to harpsichord. Stand out songs are ‘Grimly Fiendish’ (obviously!) ‘Is It A Dream’ and the utterly amazing full on gothic ballad ‘Sanctum Sanctorum’.

Necrophagist – Onset Of Putrefaction (1999).

For me, the absolute zenith of melodic technical death metal. I have zero shame in admitting that I am a complete and utter Mohammed Suicmez fanboy as the man is just one of the most sublime of modern metal guitarists I have ever seen. The man creates riffs of complexity and perfection and then sets them against hyperspeed death metal to form some kind of roaring neo-classical/ metal amalgam that is surely worth anyone’s time. He is also possessed of a vomit inducing, menacing growl. A criminally underrated band and one that should have been fucking huge, just proving that there is no justice in this cruel fucking world. Stand out songs on this masterpiece are: ‘Mutilate The Stillborn’ and ‘Extreme Unction’.

Sir Lord Baltimore – Kingdom Come (1970).

This is what happens when blues musicians drink too much and absolutely cane the Billy. This record is literally the result of one person saying to his bandmates, “Hey! Drunk and stoned guys! What do you think will happen if we play the blues as fast as we absolutely can?” The answer, my friends, is a proto metal album with bluesy riffs and bizarre ethereal and hippy interludes (Lake Isle Of Innersfree). However, not a second is wasted in this breakneck album. Stand out moments include an outlandish cover of Ray Charles’’ I Got A Woman’, ‘Hell Hound’ and the title track.

Godflesh – Selfless (1994).

Bleak, grey, machinelike and utterly uncompromising, Godflesh are the ultimate industrial metal band. Unusually a two piece, famed for their steamhammer use of a drum machine. ‘Slateman’ is my favourite song, but Godflesh achieved critical mass with this, the third of their albums. Heavier than the core of a neutron star and the aural equivalent of a soulless, implacable Terminator coming to murder you, its weapons being bass that could detach your internal organs and razor-edged guitar sharp enough to lop off limbs and heads. Extreme in every sense of the word, no band have ever equalled the absolute heaviness of Godflesh. Stand out songs are the opener ‘Xnoybis’ and ‘Crush My Soul’.

Nine Inch Nails – Pretty Hate Machine (1989).

Rampant drug abuse, hypersexuality, industrial electronics and sounds, buzzsaw guitars, pop sensibilities and the tortured genius of Trent Reznor all combined to create this industrial powerhouse of a record. Even more remarkably, it was NIN’s debut and the young Dark Juan discovered it when the White Zombie record he was looking for was not available and bought it on a whim. NIN would increase the bleakness of their sound on the next record, “The Downward Spiral”, but this is an absolute joy to listen to from start to finish… Stand out songs are ‘Head Like A Hole’ (pop genius with a massive hook and killer guitar), ‘Terrible Lie’ and ‘Something I Can Never Have’ (stripped down terror and slow tempo and the heartfelt howl of Reznor over the top).

Sacred Reich – The American Way (1990).

The perfect thrash metal record. Always the underdog in the battle of the thrash bands, Sacred Reich made this absolute banger in the early nineties and they are also blessed with a frontman that is actually capable of singing, rather than some long haired Herbert who dementedly howls over the music. Add a sense of humour and you have a winner. Stand out songs are Love/ Hate and the title track.

Lawnmower Deth – Ooh Crikey It’s… (1990).

The infectious humour and bonkers shenanigans of this British bunch of mentalists appealed greatly to the sense of humour of the young Dark Juan, as did the delights of the song titles and lyrics (Cobwoman Of Deth Meets Mr. Smellymop, Spook Perv Happenings In The Snooker Hall). However, this is a damned fine thrash metal record and one that should have been absolutely massive, but was criminally ignored. However, they served as the blueprint for modern bands like Municipal Waste and have recently (to my absolute delight!) engineered a comeback of sorts and are inexorably climbing the Bloodstock bill. Stand out tracks: ‘Did You Spill My Pint?’ and ‘Seventh Church Of The Apocalyptic Lawnmower’.

Ghost – Opus Eponymous (2010).

This is a polarising choice, but I don’t care because I fucking love everything about Ghost. I love the melody, the massive pop hooks, the clean vocals and the cartoon Satanism. I love the fact that the band are Nameless Ghouls and I love Papa Emeritus. They are a band that bring back memories of Wishbone Ash and Sir Lord Baltimore and old melodic metal from the 70’s and 80’s, but with this Hollywood sheen and sense of spectacle not seen since Kiss raided their mums’ make up boxes and haberdashery supplies and augmented their boneheaded rock and roll with showmanship. Stand out songs are ‘Ritual’, ‘Elizabeth’ and ‘Prime Mover’.

Cubanate – Barbarossa (1996).

Industrial of another form – where Godflesh are grim and icily cold, and The Berzerker a killing machine gone absolutely amok and Nine Inch Nails a brightly painted battlewagon, you then have shiny, polished British avant-garde industrialists Cubanate. Melding techno beats with whiplash guitar work and the acid soaked, gravel gargling delivery of vocalist Marc Heal, they were something else entirely. Incendiary and spectacularly violent live shows only added to the mystique of this band to the young Dark Juan. Excitingly, Cubanate released “Kolossus” last year and hopefully this will lead to this 20-year love affair continuing with some live dates. Songs of note are: ‘Vortech I’, ‘Joy’ and ‘Lord Of The Flies’.

Senser – Stacked Up (1994).

One of the few rap/ metal crossovers worth your consideration. The incandescent rage of Heitham’s rapping was perfectly counterpointed by the savagery of the guitar work. Mixed into this were female vocals and some absolutely stellar DJ work. Pure hip hop could be just as vicious, but by god it was nowhere near as muscular. The lyrical content is politically reactionary and anti-racist and as a longtime fan of both hip hop and metal, this record was painfully relevant at the time and it has stood the test of time incredibly well. Absolutely essential listening for anyone with any form of social conscience. Stand outs: ‘Age Of Panic’, ‘Eject’.

Static-X – Wisconsin Death Trip (1999).

This young hellpriest first heard ‘I’m With Stupid’ on a Metal Hammer cover mount CD and was utterly lost in the nu-metal playing, extraordinarily coiffed stylings of Static-X. In my opinion the only nu-metal band worth considering, the band offered dayglo painted, streamlined metal pared down to its bare essentials, but with samples and industrial noises added. It’s a deconstructionist essay about how metal is created and just what makes it tick. The vicious bark of Wayne Static is perfect for the music and increases the savagery quotient. It still sounds fresh twenty years after the release of the album and is an important, nay, landmark, record for a version of metal that died an early death. Stand out songs are: ‘Love Dump’, ‘I’m With Stupid’ and the title track – all slammers!

Queensrÿche – Operation: Mindcrime (1988).

There aren’t any words to describe just how classic this record is. Spectacularly complex and a deep dive into the psychology of society and capitalism and the evil of that system, while taking in the concepts of drug addiction for control and a hitman for a shadowy order. Operation: Mindcrime is a concept album par excellence combining the swooping vocal range of Geoff Tate and the impeccable musicianship of the rest of the band. The production, however, was weedy as fuck and took some of the sheen off what should have been THE concept album of the modern age. Still, Queensrÿche went stratospheric and Dark Juan went with them. The highlight? The ten-minute epic called ‘Suite Sister Mary’.

Wolfmother – Wolfmother (2005).

As if the 1980’s never happened, Wolfmother’s debut record was the antithesis of the increasingly brutal and one-dimensional world of metal in the early 2000’s. This album was a paean to the joy of Hammond organ, Ozzy-esque vocals and huge choruses and soundscapes.  Standout track is ‘Dimension’.

Huge thanks to Mr Juan for sending this over. I already love some of these bands but it’s fair to say that much of what happened to Metal in the 90’s frustrated me hugely. I’m older, and hopefully, wiser now so I am going to go back to several that I cursed and swore at 20 plus years ago and give them another chance!

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Dark Juan and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

When Dark Juan Attempts A Top Ten List…

When Dark Juan Attempts A Top Ten List…

Just a quick interjection from me as I thank Dark Juan for all his hard work and the somewhat “different” reviews he has submitted this year. Thank you kind sir!
Especially when he’s sober. Let’s try and keep this brief and at least moderately entertaining, eh?

10. Stahlmann – Kinder Der Sehnsucht.

Nth Generation Neue Deutsche Harte. Causes goth girls to lose their frilly knickers. If you like baritone German vocals, das ist gut!

9. Kill All The Gentlemen – The Loss And The Rapture.

Kill All The Gentlemen
Spectactularly deranged British bruisers defy expectations with corking album of magnificently spiky metal.

8. Hecate Enthroned – Embrace Of The Godless Aeon.

Hecate Dethroned
More Brits, bringing back the good time when British avant-garde black metal had romance and melody instead of a production job not unlike a wasp in an echo chamber and a problem with unburnt churches.

7. Dirge – Lost Empyrean.

The greatest French metal band I have experienced apart from P.H.O.B.O.S. Did the most amazing thing ever for the release of this album. Released it, then split up just when I discovered how awesome they are. Merci pour rien, mes amis!

6. Blame Zeus – Seethe.

Blame Zeus
Portugal normally means port, the Algarve and occasional naval ally against Spain to this hellpriest. It doesn’t normally mean absolutely slamming female fronted heavy fucking metal. Splendid stuff from the sun-kissed slammers.

5. Woven Man – Revelry (in Our Arms).

Woven Man
When Wales stops bothering about rugby, cawl and Felinfoel Double Dragon (a fine Llanelli brew as Woven Man will of course know!) they do this. A supremely crushing and powerful heavy metal record enhanced with the delightful form of Natalie Purchase on the cover. It almost makes me forget the Church. Amen.

4. Quantum Pig – Songs Of Industry And Sunshine.

Quantum Pig
Hitherto unknown prog delights from a technically expert band. Also, they are wonderful gentlemen and fine conversationalists. You heard it here first. And I’ve still not given away the secret they told me about the next record…

3. Sacred Reich – Awakening.

Sacred Reich
Oh god. Oh my fucking god. The BEST of the American thrash metal bands return to the fray with an album that took off my face, stamped all over it with hobnailed boots on and then threw it in the bin. Savage.

2. Graham Bonnet – Live In Tokyo 2017.

Graham Bonnet
The perfect heavy metal live album from a fucking bona fide heavy fucking metal legend, a gentleman of the first order, and also Beth-Ami Heavenstone. If you know me, you know about Beth-Ami Heavenstone. Sigh.

1. Damim/ King Satan – A Fine Game Of Nil/ I Want You To Worship Satan.

I couldn’t choose between these two records so they can share the spoils and the dubious honour of now being on my somewhat depraved radar.
Damim – British blackened death metal of the very highest calibre. Faster than the firing rate of a gatling gun, and more complex than an Italian fuel pump design, but infinitely more reliable and pleasing. A truly monumental record.

King Satan – Incredibly insane industrial metal from Finland. Cacophonous, dribblingly mental and inventive and a shining example of what joy can happen when musical genres like what they see and make violent, unpredictable love together. Aggrotech meets industrial metal, checks out its arse and then tears its clothes off in a paroxysm of sexual frenzy. King Satan is the offspring of that unholy union. Utterly magnificent.

So there you have it. Dark Juan attempts a top ten of the many fine records and some stinkers (hear that, Warrior Soul?) I have had the pleasure to review. Here’s to 2020. Happy Yule, you beautiful bitches and bastards! If you see me out out, buy me beer and lock up your daughters. Peace and good fortune.
Disclaimer: This Top Ten is solely the property of Dark Juan and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Alun’s Top 10 Albums of 2019

Alun’s Top 10 Albums of 2019

We have already posted a few of our reviewers’ Top Tens of 2019 and now it’s Alun’s turn. We would like to thank him for all the work he has done for us over the past year. He certainly knows what he is talking about music-wise so go check out the albums on his list and see what you think.

1. Crobot – Motherbrain

2. Monolord – No Comfort

3. Giant Dwarf – Giant Dwarf


4. Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovel – Very Uncertain Times


5. Earth – Full Upon Her Burning Lips

6. Sunn O))) – Life Metal

7. Acid Reign – The Age of Entitlement


8. Obey – Swallow The Sun

9. Speedealer – Blue Days Black Nights

10. Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard – Yn Ol I Annwn



With honourable mentions for Firebreather, L7, Sacred Reich, Wizard Rifle, Duel and Helligators

Disclaimer: This Top Ten is solely the property of Alun Jones and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Sacred Reich – Awakening

Awakening Cover

Sacred Reich – Awakening
Metal Blade Records
Release Date: 23/08/2019
Running Time: 31:23
Review by ‘Dark Juan’

You know, dear friends, acolytes, neophytes and zelators, we never sit here and discuss our feelings. Us Metal fans, we are the outsiders, the alternative and one big, drunken happy family united by our love of music and drinking stupendous amounts of alcohol. We should be more aware of ourselves and more especially of others. Make friends and love each other, boys and girls. Love is the law. Love under will. I’m saying this stuff and being serious because recently, as I’m sure you are all aware, it was the recent anniversary of the horrific murder of Sophie Lancaster, one of our own. This has got me thinking about how we all need to watch out for each other. If you’re in a pit and you see someone going down, lift them up. If someone is passing out or throwing up because of too many party treats or too much booze, be the one that calls the fucking ambulance and gets them seen to. There’s enough shit and bias against us tattooed, pierced and Metal/ Goth/ Industrial loving folks without us not looking after each other. Dark Juan loves you all. Rest In Peace, Sophie. You were a friend lots of us never got to meet and that still hurts, so many years after the event.
So endeth the sermon, and I have therefore picked up my glass of wine and I have slapped a new platter on by my favourite thrash band of all time, Sacred Reich (which, due to slight inebriation, I’m having trouble spelling…). For those of you who have been living under some kind of anti-metal rock, Sacred Reich were formed in 1985 and are an Arizona band who should have been absolutely colossal on the scale of Slayer, Metallica, Megadeth and Anthrax and always had a very polished, Bay Area thrash sound. Think the clean, arctic purity of Metallica’s Ride The Lightning with added bass (because Lars isn’t there to fuck up the production like normal) mixed with Bonded With Blood era Exodus. THAT’S the Sacred Reich sound. Their record “The American Way” is an absolute thrash classic and you should be hitting Amazon right about now to buy it. I’ll wait…
“Awakening” is the fifth album by these grizzled thrash stalwarts. What do you get? You get ultra-classic thrash that takes me instantly back to dying of alcohol poisoning with my friends in a tent in the middle of a field or a beach with a ghetto blaster and a shitload of tape cassettes. This is not a bad thing because thrash always had the perfect mix between power, aggression, musicianship and melody and it was my full on gateway drug into all other known metal. So, we have a classic band utilising a classic style with a classic sound. Have we a new Sacred Reich classic album here?
The answer, dear friends and defilers of the Whorehouse of Christ The Deceiver, is very fucking nearly. Sacred Reich have released a gem of a heavy metal record. It is pretty damned fine. Their sound has evolved too, incorporating elements of southern blues and full on groove metal into that classic US thrash blueprint and creating a new kind of warbeast, a chimerical quadruped cyborg armed with heavy machine guns and a really shitty temper. The groovy, updated sound undoubtedly benefits from the recent joining of Dave McClain, after his split with Machine Head and the infusion of young blood into the band in the form of Joey Radziwill on guitar. Sacred Reich, however, have never been afraid of leaning left of the centre with their music (anyone remember the truly execrable, but fantastically well-meaning ‘31 Flavors’ from “The American Way”? For those of you that don’t, allow me to enlighten you – Thrash metal band are quite possibly massively stoned or utterly fucked up beyond all known levels of sanity on god knows what substance and decide it would be a terrific idea to play a funk song. Oh. My. God. It is hilarious for all the wrong reasons. There’s shocking sequenced brass bits, lyrics of questionable taste and it is possibly the most uncomfortable piece of guitar playing I have ever heard in my life. Saying that, the message is an inspiring one…) what with them breaking into the Batman theme tune in the middle eight of ‘Surf Nicaragua’, but there’s not many shenanigans on offer with this record. This is a band who have rediscovered the love of their music and have decided that they are going to violently kill everyone with it.
What there is, though, is a level of comfort and satisfaction that is seldom achieved in metal. This is a band thoroughly comfortable with themselves, their music and the kind of record they wanted to make. Another one of the manifold reasons I love Sacred Reich so much is the fact that Phil Heal is a magnificently accomplished bassist, far in advance of his contemporaries. It lends the Sacred Reich sound that extra edge that, for this thrash loving Hellpriest, set them apart from the rest of the American thrash bands. He’s also a much better singer than most thrash frontmen as well.
I’m fucking loving this. It proves that thrash is still relevant and is not just some young bands having discovered Dad’s Kreator records and being achingly cool and replicating the sound of them for a modern and young audience who have never heard Sodom’s “Agent Orange” or Coroner’s “No More Color”.
Stand out track on this album for me is the simply jaw dropping ‘Divide And Conquer’. It’s an agglomeration of Slayer style verse and riffage, segueing into a classic Metallica sounding chorus. If there was ever a song this distilled the very essence of the sheer brilliance of thrash metal, THIS IS IT! Who cares that Phil struggles a little bit when he hits the higher notes. The middle eight of ‘Salvation’ also deserves note because of the simply sublime bass and guitar interplay that has caused me to soil myself in sheer excitement and caused me to thank my friend Marion in Laniscat for selling me a wipe clean sofa. Once again it comes in for some abuse, does my sofa when I’m writing for And serious, strenuous efforts at cleaning too!
I really don’t have the words to tell you how much fun this record is. Mrs. Dark Juan has been throwing things at me for the past hour because I’m A) Not making tea like I promised I would, B) flailing around like an animate, demented windmill, C) Howling like a tone deaf werewolf in mating season along to the album, D) Upsetting the hellhounds, and E) Accidentally breaking every ornament we own. See B) for more information.
To return to an earlier question: Is “Awakening” by Sacred Reich a classic record? I wish to qualify the opinion I gave you earlier. Yes, it fucking is. Ultra-precise, razor sharp classic thrash from the finest band ever to play it, with an engaging sense of fun, and for this record, a serious an uncompromising sense of who they are and where they want to be. Dave McClain was wasted in Machine Head. Sacred Reich is where he belongs. May Phil and Wiley and the new guys live forever. And more importantly, keep giving me records like this because I’m a dripping, spent mess of metal pleasure right now.
I think I’ll leave you with that mental image.
The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System has regressed instantly back to teenage years, and is busily chasing goth girls (and failing miserably at catching them), pouring insane quantities of beer down it’s throat and acquiring new and exciting neck and brain damage from headbanging so hard. 10/10 because it is fucking amazing! Thank fuck that Sacred Reich gave me this record, rather than Rock Goddess levels of disappointment.
To return to seriousness for a brief moment, if I may. Please, PLEASE, everyone support S.O.P.H.I.E. because we NEED to make the loss of one of our own in such a senseless and disgusting fashion MEAN SOMETHING. It is important, no, it is IMPERATIVE that our metal and alternative family love each other as hard as we can. We are the outsiders. We NEED each other. If you don’t yet support S.O.P.H.I.E. please just even buy a wristband and you’re doing your bit.
Thank you. I love you all.
01. Awakening
02. Divide And Conquer
03. Salvation
04. Manifest Reality
05. Killing Machine
06. Death Valley
07. Revolution
08. Something To Believe
Phil Heal – bass and vocals
Dave McClain – Drums
Wiley Arnett – Guitar
Joey Radziwill – Guitar
And for the Sophie Lancaster Foundation (S.O.P.H.I.E.)
Promo Pic1
Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Dark Juan and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.