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SACRED REICH
SACRED REICH
Ignorance
(Metal Blade Records)
51:19min

This year, one of my all time favourite Thrash Metal albums by one of my all time favourite bands turns 30. I'm talking about “Ignorance” by the mighty (and still quite vivid) SACRED REICH, of course. Looking back at the times this album was released, it can only be stated that SACRED REICH were rather late, since they started in 1985 when Thrash Metal was already in full bloom. Basically because they were pretty young kids back then, bass player and singer Phil Rind was only sixteen when he joined the band. But starting late didn't keep them from being one of the best bands of the genre. As a newcomer band SACRED REICH was not only gifted, but they also played quite a few shows in their home base around Phoenix, Arizona. Thanks to that, they had well known supporters in their early demo days already. They were close with their town mates from FLOTSAM AND JETSAM, especially Jason Newsted helped to spread the name SACRED REICH a lot (yep, he copied their demo for me on side B of an interview tape back then - Frank). In return, Phil Rind helped them out on bass after Jason left to join METALLICA. Kerry King of SLAYER also spread the name around and even played a gig with the band (as well as Jason Newsted) back in the old days. In addition, the demo “Draining You Of Life” spread fast in the underground, making the name SACRED REICH well known. It was no wonder that they signed a deal with Metal Blade, one of the greatest Metal companies back then and still today. The first result of this collaboration was the album “Ignorance” that was released in the fall of 1987. In times when Thrash Metal was already beyond its creative peak, this album was a kind of life-cell therapy for the genre. SACRED REICH were fresh, vehement and picked up influences from the just raging Crossover wave and original Punk and Hardcore. This affinity for Punk and Hardcore also showed in the lyrics of Phil Rind, who were always politically motivated and critical towards the evolutions not only in the USA of those days. In that regard, SACRED REICH were forerunners in the Thrash Metal scene. Not to forget, they knew all the originators of Thrash and any other Metal by heart. The result was an album that explored the boundaries of the genre without leaving it. “Ignorance” had a very fine production by Bill Metoyer and the combination with the destructive rage of youth made this album stick out of the masses of Thrash releases of the late 1980s. Could there be a better start for an album than 'Death Squad'? This song is one of the ultimate masterpieces of Thrash. The marching intro riffs and drum grooves simply just force you to start a circle pit at home before the song turns into a Thrash Metal charge of the most killing kind. 'Victim Of Demise' is the perfect second song, an also diversified killer with a furious mosh part and Punk inspired bass lines. After such a vigorous upbeat, it's not a bad idea to get 'Layed To Rest' with an instrumental interlude of that name, only guitars, two minutes of treacherous peace. The idyll gets destroyed by the intro piece of the title track that already hinted what later recordings were to prove. SACRED REICH learned their BLACK SABBATH lessons with flying colours. 'Ignorance' soon turns into a diversified high speed tune with a grooving middle part that even hints on rap vocals ('31 Flavors' anyone?). The first side of the album gets finished by 'No Believers', a groove monster with a punkish bass intro and thrashing verse and solo parts. Side B opens up with 'Violent Solutions' that is dominated by marching riffs and a grooving bass. In the solo section, there are again some Punk inspired drum patterns that show up pretty often on “Ignorance” and underline that Greg Hall is a master on drums (to me he's definitely one of the most underrated talents in extreme music ever! - Frank). A short solo piece starts 'Rest In Peace', leads into another circle pit building groove attack in the intro and finally turns into an inferno with stop-and-go breaks. The solo section of this one has some very fine and distinct FLOTSAM & JETSAM moments. Another centre piece of “Ignorance” is the next one: 'Sacred Reich'. And it is not only for musical reasons, even though this one is a powerful song that is mainly kept in a more mid tempo speed. More over, it is the band anthem and silenced any voice back then that might have thought SACRED REICH would be flirting with the political right wing, due to the name of the band. After that one, the album really needed a great closing song, and 'Administrative Decisions' is just that. After a slower beginning, this one picks up a fast basic beat, and relaxes with grooving breaks in the middle. Thus endeth one of the greatest Thrash records ever, pretty soon after not even 33 minutes. But the rather short running time turns out to be more strong points of the album, since it is over before it even has a chance to become just one bit of boring ("Reign In Blood" anyone? - Frank). As a debut, “Ignorance” was more than promising, it was killing! And even though SACRED REICH never sounded better than on this album, they released three more fantastic and not really conventional full lengths and some either great EPs (“Surf Nicaragua” for example) until 1996. After being on hiatus for a few years, SACRED REICH are still around as a touring band. So don't miss 'em when you get the chance to see them live, they blew me away in Bremen last year. As I already said, 30 years have passed now since “Ignorance” was released. There are two things to say about this anniversary. First, it again shows me how fuckin' old I really am. And the second, even more important thing: an anniversary needs to be celebrated! Thus Metal Blade re-released the classic SACRED REICH masterpiece as a special edition. The specials already start with the appearance of the album: it's not (only) the digipak, but even more the use of the originally intended artwork by Paul Stottler that Metal Blade refused as “too Punk”. Instead, this artwork was hidden on the inner sleeve of the album in too small size. Another artwork of Mr Stottler, who turned into a kind of fifth band member later on, was used for the original cover (included in all its glory as well in this re-release, in postersize on one side of the fold out booklet - Frank). And what would a proper re-release be without bonus songs? This edition of “Ignorance” has five of them. First we get an earlier version of 'Ignorance' that was released on the “Metal Massacre VIII” compilation. The title track of the album comes along much rougher here with a lot of echo on the drums. Finally, we get all four songs of the famous demo tape “Draining You Of Life” that rose a lot of attention in 1986. Those tracks were the only SACRED REICH recordings that didn't feature lead guitar player Wiley Arnett, but his predecessor Jeff Martinek. Of course all songs were later used in re-recorded versions with Wiley, mainly on “Ignorance”. Only the title track was saved for the even more famous “Surf Nicaragua” 12” EP in 1988, one of the most famous EPs in Metal history. The songs of “Draining You Of Life” were restored in an astonishingly great sound here. Of course they still sound like a demo recording, rough and not perfectly arranged, but they are a great and more metallic alternative to the well known album versions. And that's it for the bonus tracks here. There still are some recordings from that era left, but I'm pretty sure we'll get those next year when “Surf Nicaragua” turns 30. Visit SACRED REICH at www.facebook.com/sacredreichofficial or their label at www.metalblade.com

Thomas Meyer

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