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4.08 | 2 ratings | 1 review
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Album · 2019

Filed under Thrash Metal


1. Awakening (4:08)
2. Divide & Conquer (3:40)
3. Salvation (3:59)
4. Manifest Reality (4:44)
5. Killing Machine (3:18)
6. Death Valley (5:22)
7. Revolution (2:48)
8. Something to Believe (3:24)

Total time 31:23


Phil Rind / Bass, Vocals
Wiley Arnett / Guitars
Dave McClain / Drums
Joey Radziwill / Guitars

About this release

Metal Blade Records, 23 August 2019

Thanks to Vim Fuego for the addition and adg211288 for the updates


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"Awakening" is the 5th full-length studio album by US, Arizona based thrash metal act Sacred Reich. The album was released through Metal Blade Records in August 2019. It´s been 23 years since the release of "Heal" from 1996 and there´s one lineup change compared to the lineup who recorded the predecessor as guitarist Jason Rainey has been replaced by Joey Radziwill. However there have been other significant lineup changes and band status changes in the 23 years between "Heal (1996)" and "Awakening". Drummer Dave McClain left in 1997 to join Machine Head and had a 20 year successful stint with that band, before rejoining Sacred Reich in 2018. While he was gone original drummer Greg Hall returned and filled his shoes. Sacred Reich also had a period of inactivity from 2000-2006. They reunited in 2006 and have played sporadic shows since then, but finally they decided it was also time for a new release.

Considering they´ve had 23 years to write new material (although they weren´t active in all those years), it´s a bit surprising that "Awakening" only features 8 tracks and a total playing time of 31:23. Back in their heyday of the late 80s/early 90s, where it was normal to release an album each or maybe every second year, they were also notoriously known for their slow writing pace. Four albums released from their inception in 1985 to their original disbandment in 2000 pretty much tells that story.

But it´s always about quality over quantity in my book and fortunately Sacred Reich fully deliver on that parameter. Sacred Reich went through some different phases in their original run from aggressive Slayer influenced thrash metal on their 1987 debut album "Ignorance", to a more melodic and varied type of thrash metal on "The American Way (1990)", to the more heavy metal and groove metal influenced "Independent (1993)" and "Heal (1996)", so it´s not easy to know what to expect 23 years down the line.

As it turns out Sacred Reich sounds unmistakably like Sacred Reich on "Awakening". They are as well playing as ever and lead vocalist/bassist Phil Rind sounds pretty great too. His voice has changed a bit over the years and has become a little more hoarse, but he can still hit some high notes when needed. Stylistically "Awakening" is quite the diverse release, featuring both aggressive fast-paced thrash metal tracks (in glimpses the Slayer influence from their debut album has returned), mid-paced heavy tracks (many of them greatly influenced by Black Sabbath), and also quite a bit of melody (the best example of that is the chorus to "Death Valley"). A track like "Killing Machine" (which to my ears is a bit of a gem) also bears a strong traditional heavy metal influence.

So while Sacred Reich are still mostly refered to as a thrash metal act, there is much more to them than that (always has been). In the past they weren´t always successful with their genre experiments, but they hit the nail pretty perfect on "Awakening", which is a strong release throughout. The sound production is raw, organic, and powerful, the musicianship is strong (damn McClain is a great drummer), and the songwriting intriguing and clever. The album requires an open mind and a taste for other music styles than thrash metal, because this is definitely not a 100% thrash metal release, but to those who enjoy high quality heavy music, "Awakening" is a recommendable release. A 3.5 - 4 star (75%) rating is deserved.

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