SACRED REICH / TOXIC HOLOCAUST / LIKE RATS / REPENTANCE / MILLIONS OF DEAD ANGELS
Date: 17th September, 2019
Venue: Reggies Rock Club
SACRED REICH kept their promise and broke the more than a decade studio silence by releasing “Awakening” (fitting title, right?) a month ago. But they didn’t do this just for having something to sell, as the album turned out to be absolutely awesome with songs that are setlist-worthy from start to finish. This makes going to see these guys live a ‘must’, to get a hearty taste of how much this new album has boosted the energy of a band that has been around for quite a while (well, ‘while’ stretches over decades...).
The show was scheduled on the concert-unfriendly date (Tuesday that is) and this meant sacrificing the first bands to be in a decent shape for the last two. After all, you have to be in a good physical form to attend a TOXIC HOLOCAUST show, because standing still while the power-trio pours gallons of energy on you is not an option. Oh my, the front rows were already packed and the enthusiasm climaxed the moment the lights went out and the taped intro marked the time for some intense moshing. It is funny how the mood changes when the show is about to start because moments ago the same people were on the stage prepping their gear. This is the effect of, what I like to call, ‘concert adrenaline’, and whoever has tasted it, knows how awesome it is. I mean, no matter how tired I felt the moment TOXIC HOLOCAUST unleashed their Speed Metal (with strong VENOM undertones), everything was thrown out of the window with thrashin’ and “surviving” the intense moshing became number one on my to-do list. There was a mix of ages in the front rows but the energy felt the same all around with the circle-pit entering the red zone the moment the “Gravelord” / “Acid Fuzz” double treat hit us. “Hello Chicago, you are fucking amazing! Let’s keep the shit going” were the only words Joel used in between these songs before (re)flooring the figurative pedal. Seeing Joel putting so much energy on his singing / bass playing made him look like a member of the audience, enjoying the music and the violent fun as much as we did. Only by comparison to Joel and drummer Tyler, guitarist Eric looked the calmest of the three and I am overstretching the term ‘calm’ here... That’s right; TOXIC HOLOCAUST were on fire and it did not take much time to see a couple of metalheads getting on stage to perform the (almost) lost art of stage-diving. Of course, it was kind of dangerous without the photo-pit zone for the security guys to stand but I am happy to report that no one got hurt.
The way Punk is infused in Thrash (actually it was born from it) works like a moshin’ charm and TOXIC HOLOCAUST are making the most of it. You can even use the term ‘Speed Metal’ to describe the ferocity of this band’s performance, but in the end of the day, genre-calling does not matter as long as the headbanging and the moshing keep going as strong as they did that Tuesday in Reggie’s. The MOTÖRHEAD-esque drum roll gave its place to the early-METALLICA guitar action of “Bitch” taken straight from the ‘80s and was followed by “666” that Joel dedicated to all the “evil maniacs”. Judging by the number of sweaty faces and of people running in a circle inside the venue, I’d said there were a lot of maniacs that night. The icing on this neck-wrecking cake was the occasional sing-along with fists pumping in the air during the catchy “Hell On Earth” and “War Is Hell” duet. Isn’t the latter one a Speed Metal blueprint?
“This goes to all the crazy motherfuckers in the front”, said Joel who looked as excited as the audience and I am sure he would have stage-dived if there was someone to sing and play the bass… “Wild Dogs” and “The Lord Of The Wasteland” were the 1-2 punch combo to finish this high-pressure performance that left lots of panting metalheads going outside for a bit to catch their breath. In other words, this was an awesome set. Would SACRED REICH be able to match this energy? Oh my, of course they would.
TOXIC HOLOCAUST setlist:
02. “Acid Fuzz”
03. “In The Name Of Science”
04. “Reaper’s Grave”
05. “Death Brings Death”
06. “Awaken The Serpent”
07. “Nuke The Cross”
11. “Hell On Earth”
12. “War Is Hell”
13. “Wild Dogs”
14. “The Lord Of The Wasteland”
(click to enlarge)
The banner set at the back of the stage had O.D.’s familiar face looking over the people inside Reggie’s making sure that everyone was aware that SACRED REICH would soon take over the venue. Phil Rind holds the most characteristic smile in the entire Metal scene and hearing him once more stating the obvious, “We are SACREAD REICH from Phoenix, AZ” gave me goosebumps reminding me my teenage years when this band was making a huge splash in the scene all the way back in the ‘90s. It is amazing to realize that some pounds and a bit less hair are the only differences you can spot in a band that comes from that era. Because musically, “Manifest Reality” carries the SACRED REICH name with the outmost pride and with the appropriate energy level that is a call to arms for headbanging and moshing. Contrary to my expectations (sometimes, I do see the glass half empty), there were lots of metalheads singing-along the chorus of the setlist opener. Usually, it is only the old stuff that has an impact to the audience when bands from the ‘80s are onstage. Who knows, maybe the two decades of studio silence did have a positive effect, and at the end of the day it does not really matter as long as you have such energy pouncing on and off stage. “The American Way” was a most welcomed blast from the past, reminding me of the long-gone glory days when MTV was putting out music and not reality garbage.
The smile that Phil is carrying goes hand in hand with this most positive and Zen attitude that sometimes does not fit the song’s musical and lyrics aggression. On the other hand, this reflects the band’s down-to-earth attitude and often shockingly bluntness with songs like the most relevant to nowadays “Divide & Conquer” that was cleverly paired with “One Nation” (see what they did there?). Before kicking of the song, Phil mentioned the Detroit strikes, adding how much the manufacturing jobs have been supporting the US economy and I am sure he saw many heading nodding with agreement (at least I hope he did).
“I love that music is like a time machine”, said Phil expressing with words something all the metalheads have inside their hearts. You see, music (and especially Metal) has the ability to grow with you and mark specific periods of one’s life that may be good or bad and everything in between. There are songs triggering memories, experiences and emotions and this especially applies to those who have been following this scene for their entire life. The band tied this with the brand new “Awakening” that also has a special meaning because it represents the SACRED REICH ‘new music-writing’ awakening. The second clever pairing is comprised by “Independent” and “Free” with the latter, showcasing in what excellent stage Phil’s voice is especially during the chorus. Sure, the moshing during the SACRED REICH set was not of the same level with the TOXIC HOLOCAUST’s show but this can be partially explained by the tad higher on average age of the metalheads occupying the front rows. Still, there were younger faces making me feel hopeful for the new generation that has a second chance to enjoy bands in action like SACRED REICH.
It is extremely disappointing to realize that even though “The American Way” was released almost three decades ago, the lyrics are still relevant today, especially in the way we ‘like’ to bury our faces into our smartphones and not pay the appropriate attention to our kids, with “Who’s To Blame” describing exactly this. On a positive note, it was awesome having Wiley Arnett starting this tune with the characteristic minor chords supporting Phil talking about Johnny. How cool was it hearing the audience taking over the singing with “OZZY, JUDAS PRIEST” lyrics?
After “Ignorance”, which was a nice excuse for more moshing, Phil gave us a breather; “For a fucking Tuesday night, I think it’s fucking cool. Our last record came out 23 years ago”, he said before joking about Joey’s age, adding that he was not even born when the previous SACRED REICH album was released. He went on and introduced the rest of the band and made a special note when he addressed drummer Dave McClain by adding that he returned to the band after 23 years. “Maybe we were waiting for him to write a new album”, Phil said before getting back to action with “Salvation” with the killer guitar solo (among other things). After my favorite “Love...Hate”, it was time for Wiley’s and Dave’s favorite song from the new album; yeah, it was time to kill Johnny once more with “Killing Machine”. This was the last song from the new album and honestly, I would not mind if they had played the entire thing from start to finish. After all, it is 30 minutes long and therefore, a perfect fit for a setlist. On the other hand, this would mean to remove some oldies and I cannot choose which one, but if I had to, I would not remove either “Death Squad” or “Surf Nicaragua” that closed the set with the last rounds of moshing.
Beyond the shadow of a doubt, SACRED REICH have rekindled their Thrashin’ fire and we are excited to have them around with new music added in their awesome backcatalogue. Would we like to see them onstage anytime soon? You bet we’d like!
SACRED REICH setlist:
01. “Manifest Reality”
02. “The American Way”
03. “Divide & Conquer”
04. “One Nation”
08. “Who’s To Blame”
12. “Killing Machine”
13. “Death Squad”
14. “Surf Nicaragua”
(click to enlarge)