Sacred Reich – Awakening Review

Over the last decade and a half, many of the great Thrash Metal bands have had decent or even good comebacks, some have even had great comebacks. Arizona’s Sacred Reich managed to do something rather special with their 2019 comeback record… over two decades after their most recent studio album, they’ve actually made the best record of their whole career.

Now, up until I heard this record, if you told me they’d make a better overall album than The American Way I’d have laughed in your face (not really, I’m a nice guy, I’d have respectfully disagreed, but that doesn’t make as bold a statement, now does it?). I’m sure there’s lots of people who feel the same about their angrier debut album Ignorance, or their popular EP Surf Nicaragua. Top the classics? Not a snowball’s chance…

However, remove nostalgia, expectation, and scepticism, and just go in with a blank slate and you should, like me, be bowled over by the sheer quality of this album. Utterly perfect production job (other bands please take note, this is how it should be done), massively catchy choruses, superb riffing and grooving, interesting lyrics spat out with conviction, and inventive drumming from Dave McClain (back in the band after a long stint in Machine Head), this album contains all the elements of a masterpiece.

Its only half an hour long, and its all good, so it is hard to choose highlights, but I feel like the best introduction or tester to the album for those curious about whether to buy it or not, is to listen to the three song curve of the more melodic “Salvation,” into the guitar-focused and more traditionally Thrashy “Manifest Reality” into the absurdly catchy “Killing Machine” (boy, does that song hit the spot!).

As long as you aren’t put off by the band’s very political message (internet comments sections the world over seem to be, these days, as if all the other Sacred Reich albums weren’t political as hell!?! Their name alone…anyway, nevermind), there is no question that this album is an unquestionable must-have for fans of the band. They’ve done such a good job of mixing different parts of their whole career, selecting only the best bits, shaving off any fat, and then blending it together with a really satisfying mix and performance that just sounds so vital and relevant.

It is relentlessly old school, yes, but it also doesn’t feel like it is just rehashing old ideas. It does that near impossible task of sounding old and new at the same time. Maybe its just that fire-in-the-eyes revitalised energy spilling out through the speakers, but I can’t explain it. Just listen to “Revolution” to see what I mean.

[PS. If you can, try and get the song “Don’t Do It Donnie” too, its on a split with Iron Regan and is a fun little two minute bouncy crossover song, that is the most perfectly fun little succinct track they’ve released since the title track of Independent. Its kind of like D.O.A’s “Fucked Up Ronnie” for the modern day! I’ve just added it to this album on my phone and iTunes. I can’t listen to one without the other anymore].

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