|I know this has been in my blog before, X-mas 89, dress shirt open to reveal Sacred Reich shirt|
I first discovered Sacred Reich in 1988 through the Best of Metal Blade Volume 3 Cassette I bought at Cavages, in the long since defunct Summit Park Mall in Wheatfield, NY. The song Death Squad was better and heavier than anything else on that tape, mostly because what would’ve otherwise been the best track, the live version of Die By The Sword by Slayer, I already knew. Shortly thereafter, Surf Nicaragua came out, and I considered Sacred Reich to be on par with all the other thrash bands I loved; Slayer, Metallica, Anthrax, and Exodus. The American Way was released in 1990 and it was my favorite album that summer.
In August 1990, I ventured to see a HUGE show at the Skyroom in Buffalo: Forced Entry, Obituary, Sacred Reich and local heroes Cannibal Corpse. It happened to be the record release show for Cannibal Corpse’s debut Eaten Back To Life. Phil Rind from SR took the time to talk to me before their set and sign a couple t shirts; I’m not big on autographs, but as far as I was concerned at the time, he was in the best band I had ever heard. I found him to be funny and down to earth. On stage, and clearly in the middle of a largely Cannibal Corpse/ death metal crowd, Phil made a comment about how SR “sung about real stuff” and not fantasy. CC seemed to take exception to this, and with a straight fucking face their singer announced on stage that they “sung about real shit, LIKE ZOMBIES!” That has stuck with me for 27 years, how fucking cool Sacred Reich were and how ridiculous Cannibal Corpse are. Later that week, as I was walking down Main Street in Tonawanda, NY, I happened to notice a poster for the American Way hanging in an office window with Atrie Kwitchoff, the show’s promoter, taking it down. I knocked on the window and asked him for the poster, which he was happy to do. Artie was always really cool to me and giving me that poster was one of those perfect moments of adolescent synchronicity. That poster hung in my bedroom until 1995, when I moved into my first apartment, as it didn't survive being removed from the wall.
A few days shy of a year later, Sacred Reich played Buffalo again on the “New Titans on the Block” tour. I had seen Sick of it all and Napalm Death earlier that year and was really anticipating seeing the great Sepultura, but NOTHING, I mean NOTHING could bottle my excitement for the Sacred Reich set. The whole show was awesome and I even mustered up the courage to do my second stage dive ever during Napalm Death, but the venue’s stage was just too high up to really enjoy the show from upfront, so I watched most of the gig from the back seated area.
I bought the A Question single shortly after this and LOVED it. It was heavy, with a groove (the way the music scene started to turn at the time) and had lyrics I could really jive on. Sacred Reich could do no wrong, until, well, they did.
The day after my 19th birthday in 1993, I saw Sacred Reich for what would be the last time until 24 and ½ years later and it fell pretty flat. They were two years removed from the A Question single and touring on a new record that, aside from the title track, I really didn’t like. Plus, they played with Malhavoc, who were a shadow of the insane band I had seen in 1990 and 91 and Snapcase, who were rising fast. It was one of those occasions when the local opener smoked the headliner and the support act. The next album, Heal, I didn’t even bother with, content to listen to The American Way over and over for the next 20 plus years.
Eventually, I grew to like Independent and tracks off of Heal, but they really sound like a band lost. I think if A Question had made it on to Independent and had they dropped a coupled of the weaker tracks, the album may have fared better with fans, including me. The early 90’s, post alternative rock, was such a bad time for metal and the bands with careers on the line made poor and sometimes desperate choices that probably seemed sound at the time. Sometimes bands collectively struggle with their identity and I think it became really apparent during the decline of the trash metal scene. I mean fuck, even Metallica cut their fucking hair and wore makeup and eyeliner, could you imagine them doing that in 1989? Not on your life. The big difference is that Metallica had the Black album under their belt and money still pouring in when their peers and smaller bands were struggling to stay afloat creatively and financially. Thankfully, metal in general had a huge resurgence in the post Nu Metal climate; leading to a renewed interest in metal across the board since the early 2000’s.This is what lead to me being able to see Sacred Reich again in 2017.
I was not impressed by the tour’s support acts, but gave them both a chance. By the time Sacred Reich came on, I was hungry for great fucking tunes and they did NOT disappoint.
|Jason looks thrilled.|
Ignorance/ Administrative Decisions/ One Nation/ Love...Hate/ Victim of Demise/ Violent Solutions/ Crimes Against Humanity/ Who's to Blame/ I Don't Know/ Free/ Independent/ War Pigs/ The American Way/ Death Squad/ Surf Nicaragua.
Now that’s a setlist! Dave McClain, their second drummer, joined them on stage for the songs from Independent. Dave is a tight fucking drummer, but he lacks the aggressive swing that Greg has. It’s like the difference between and analog and digital recording, both deliver sound and can be excellent, but have very different nuances. Still, I enjoyed seeing them both on stage. I would have liked to have heard Draining you of Life and A Question, but the seltlist was concise and well delivered and MUCH better than the show in 1993. What a great band.