Is Nothing Sacred?
by Curt King
So what comes to mind when you hear the name SACRED REICH? Well, for me nothing really, but I am sure for many others that is not the case. You see I am more than familiar with silly band names — band names that are simply meant to shock people, and or bands that pick monikers that mean NOTHING at all. I usually try not to get too hung up on such trivial things and besides, what’s in a name right?
Fast-forward to the SLEEPY TRIP rehearsal space (1985/86′).
After our bands practice that night, a young Arizona transplant named Mike Gunner was throwing in his $0.02 on up n’ coming bands that I should feature in Demolish.
His vote of course was a band from his home state called SACRED REICH (who at this point were only together for barely a year). Now to tell you the truth, I was a bit skeptical upon hearing this name and coming from Mike — who was really more into all things “hardcore”, I was not really listening to his words with much enthusiasm. So after a bit of thrash/metal VS hardcore musical chit-chat, I informed him that if he could hook me up with their demo and or get into contact with this young band, then I would certainly give them a chance. I’ll admit he did piqué my interest with his enthusiasm and excitement with which he spewed forth.
So the demo finally surfaced and their impressive “Draining You of Life” demo became one of the most sought after underground tapes to make the rounds. Of course there was already a bit of a “Metal” stir in the Phoenix, Arizona area around this time with [the excellent] FLOTSAM & JETSAM preceding them by a few short years. As a matter of fact, main man Phil Rind (bass + vocals) temporarily replaced Jason Newsted of Flotsam fame when Mr. Newsted was recruited by the METALLICA camp. During his stay, Phil played a couple of dates with Flotsam in L.A. and their drummer Greg Hall was even a serious candidate for the drum seat in SLAYER when Dave Lombardo went AWOL!
I am not sure if the Flotsam crew hooked up their Arizona friends’ with Metal Blade Records or not, but the title song of their début album “Ignorance”, was added to the demo and ultimately recorded for the Metal Massacre VIII compilation. From what I hear, the response was so great that SACRED REICH was added to the Metal Blade roster in 1987. Things were looking up for these desert thrashers as they became the first thrash metal band in the label’s history to be offered major distribution through Capitol Records!
What I like about SACRED REICH is that they combine a sense of seriousness in their lyrical content but at the same time are not afraid to have fun. Phil has some interesting conversations with their audiences in-between songs, sometimes comedic while still remaining in-your-face Thrash Metal! Another aspect that separates the band from the ever-growing list of sub-par Speed Metal or Thrash bands worldwide is the inspired guitar work of Wiley Arnett. His guitar runs and solos are unique in this genre and have added yet another dimension after joining the band. Wiley replaced original guitarist Jeff Martinek (who appeared on their demo) after he left the band to join the U.S. Army.
I was able to meet up with the band at their stop in Cincinnati, Ohio (at Bogart’s) after their killer performance! This is one powerful band live and I am digging the “Ignorance” album folks.
- “Death Squad” – 4:19
- “Victim of Demise” – 3:29
- “Layed to Rest” (Wiley Arnett) – 2:14
- “Ignorance” – 4:00
- “No Believers” (Rind, Jason Rainey) – 3:17
- “Violent Solutions” (Rind, Rainey) – 4:09
- “Rest in Peace” (Rind, Rainey) – 3:40
- “Sacred Reich” – 3:10
- “Administrative Decisions” – 3:20
CURT KING – So are you guys happy with the way “Ignorance” turned out and is it shifting any units?
PHIL RIND: “It’s doin’ better than probably what we expected, but we don’t know any exact numbers.”
GREG HALL: “A while back we signed with Great Southern Merchandising. They do IRON MAIDEN, AEROSMITH and BON JOVI, so we got a cool deal there. Now all we need to do is find a good booking agent! We’ve got good distribution and everything until we ran into this guy who is f**k**g us over. Our shirts are selling very well, better than they expected.”
Wasn’t your début LP the first début album on Metal Blade to be distributed through Capitol Records?
WILEY ARNETT: “Yeah, it was the first album to get that distribution. They have other bands to get it, but we were the first band to get it on our début album. Usually they have a band for a few albums and then they’ll hook em’ up with this deal. Brian Slagel’s been very supportive so far. Metal Blade are killer!”
Can you link the great support and Capital distribution deal to your success thus far?
GREG HALL: “Oh yeah, if we didn’t have Capitol Distribution then we wouldn’t be in half the places, as far as record stores are concerned, that we are in. I’m sure there are downfalls too, but there are people who have heard of us in places that I’ve never even heard of! We played Cleveland, Ohio and I figured they were gonna’ be some f**k**g shit little town, but they were great!”
What’s the concept and or meaning of the album’s title and cover artwork?
PHIL: “The whole “Ignorance” thing is if you look inside the album cover, there’s a little picture and that was the original album cover but they said it was too harsh, so we picked the lower right-hand corner and that represented “Ignorance”.
WILEY: “The original album cover was way more-detailed. If you look at that, it pretty much sums everything up. It shows teenage drunken driving, overdose, abortion, the space shuttle, aids — just everything. It’s just the “Ignorance”, the ignorance of the world! It’s our concept.”
Your songs are very fast and powerful (esp. the drums -ed), is speed and power that important to you?
GREG: “No, it used to be though. When I got in the band, it was like, let’s play fast. But now it’s like there’s a time to play fast and a time to just PLAY. It seems like every band is going fast and to me personally, I try to stay away from the old clichéd drum licks. There’s already one Dave Lombardo. Why burn it out? It seems like everyone said: here comes Dave Lombardo and went F**k! And everyone started playin’ like him. I said, I’m gonna’ play the way I wanna’ play and if people respect me for that then that’s cool. If they don’t like it, then that’s cool too.”
“There’s already one Dave Lombardo. Why burn it out?I’m gonna’ play the way I wanna’ play and if people respect me for that then that’s cool.” – Greg Hall
It appears that you are not into the same ol’ [typical band] lyrics and some of your lyrics seem to show various statements. Can you please touch upon that a little more?
PHIL: “There’s enough dungeons and dragons satanic bands in the world already. There’s enough bullshit to write about, so there’s no reason to write about that crap!”
I agree, so how do the lyrics tie into this “central theme” then if-you-will?
PHIL: “Well, it didn’t really start until “Ignorance”. I mean, there are a couple of songs on the demo that have probably nothing to do with the way we are now. It’s social consciousness, political themes and everyday life. I figure they all tie into administrators ignorance and school systems putting out “obey-ers” and stuff. It all ties in together.”
“We have something to say and want to create awareness.” – Phil Rind
Have you received any flack from your name – being ironic as it is?
JASON: “No, we were kinda’ stereotyped for a while, but we started doing interviews and got it out. Some of the fans would write and say this is the Sacred “REICH”, especially the Germans. They thought the “REICH” was sacred. We’re doin’ it as a sarcastic over-exaggeration. We’re being sarcastic! You know — the SACRED REICH. It’s like the ultimate Ignorance.”
A lot of thrash fans do not read too deeply into the lyrics, do you think your fans are [actually] reading the song lyrics and or “getting” the concept?
GREG: “I think a lot of them do. I think a lot of em’ understand what we’re trying to do. Well, the lyrics are there and the people definitely know the lyrics to Slayer’s “Reign in Blood”, it’s like their in front of your face. If you buy the album your gonna’ want to read em’. A lot of people like our song “Administrative Decisions” because they can relate to it. Everyone’s been to High School and everyone’s dealt with f**k*ed up teachers and principals and people who just f**k you! I think our fans understand our lyrics and read them. But then again, there are some stupid one’s too, that come there and don’t know shit.”
PHIL: “Just because they don’t understand the lyrics doesn’t mean they are stupid! Some people are just into music instead of the lyrics. I’ve read reviews where people say they don’t really care about the lyrics and that’s up to them. We’re musicians and people are gonna’ listen to what we’re sayin’, so we may as well put out something that’s halfway intelligent and means something. If we can make a positive statement to people who are listening to you and you’re in a position to reach a lot of people, then why not take advantage of it.”
What did the press think about them?
- “With the release of the LP “Ignorance”, they slam on to our Hard Hitters Chart and take the number one most added slot for the second week in a row” – The Hard Report
- “Intelligence and Metal are two things not normally associated with each other, but in the case of SACRED REICH, they blend to form a powerful musical message” – Hit Parader
- “It is a raw slice of ultra-thrash metal with lyrics that veer in a different direction from your standard demons and destruction fare” – Don Kaye (RIP)
- “This is an LP that leaves you thoroughly exhausted at the end and begging for more. Grab, steal, buy or sell your soul – it’s that good. 96 out of 100! – Metal Forces
- “Ignorance” stands as the best début thrash LP this year. KKKK3/4″ – Kerrang!
- “A stunningly fast, heavy album with a lyrical stance that bypasses blood and gore for the harsh realities of life” – Power Metal
After extensive worldwide touring and the mega-successful release of “Ignorance” (which you can see from above, received the highest praise from a large selection of respected magazines), the band returned in 1988 with the “Surf Nicaragua” (EP). Other than the excellent current title track, “Draining You Of Life” from their 1st demo was re-recorded, and a Black Sabbath cover of “War Pigs” was added from the past and lastly “One Nation” points to the direction they are headed, as they move into 1989.
“Surf Nicaragua” was recorded in Los Angeles at Track Studios under the guidance of Bill Metoyer, who also did the first SACRED REICH album. The CD version has two bonus tracks “Ignorance” and “Death Squad”, both of which were recorded live. This (EP) shows the band progressing both musically and lyrically from where they were. This band is determined and quite a musical powerhouse.
- “Surf Nicaragua” (Phil Rind)– 4:39
- “One Nation” (Rind, Wiley Arnett) – 3:24
- “War Pigs” (Black Sabbath) – 6:07
- “Draining You of Life” (Rind) – 3:18
- Bonus live tracks on CD re-release
- “Ignorance” (Rind) – 4:04
- “Death Squad” (Rind) – 4:31
Alive at the Dynamo (Roadracer/Metal Blade 1989)
- “Surf Nicaragua” (Rind) – 4:27
- “Violent Solutions” (Rind, Jason Rainey) – 4:31
- “War Pigs” – 6:14
- “Death Squad” (Rind) – 6:00
*Recorded on May 15, 1989 at the Dynamo Open Air Festival in Holland (Metal Blade/Roadracer Records)
“You take 24,000 screaming, slamming, diving maniacs, add a whole bunch of Heineken, a bunch of great music, and a lot of fun, and there you have it” – Phil Rind
The American Way (Enigma/Metal Blade 1990)
- “Love… Hate” (Rind, Wiley Arnett) – 4:02
- “The American Way” (Rind, Arnett) – 3:34
- “The Way It Is” – 4:51
- “Crimes Against Humanity” – 6:04
- “State of Emergency” – 6:03
- “Who’s To Blame” – 3:33
- “I Don’t Know” – 3:08
- “31 Flavors” (Rind, Arnett) – 3:10
All songs written by Phil Rind, unless otherwise stated
“Musically, we’ve tried to expand our horizons without forgetting our roots. Some people will appreciate the changes. Others, let’s just say, they’d be satisfied with ‘Ignorance II’” – Phil Rind
A Question (EP) (Hollywood/Metal Blade 1991)
- “A Question” –5:25
- “Let’s Have A Way” (FEAR cover) – 2:20
- “Who’s to Blame” – 3:39
Independent (Hollywood/Metal Blade 1993)
- “Independent” (Rind) – 3:38
- “Free” (Rind) – 4:34
- “Just Like That” (Rind, Jason Rainey) – 5:42
- “Supremacy” (Rind) – 2:37
- “If Only” (Wiley Arnett) – 3:46
- “Crawling” (Rind, Dave McClain) – 6:30
- “Pressure” (Rind) – 2:47
- “Product” (Rind) – 3:44
- “I Never Said Goodbye” (Rind) – 7:46
- “Open Book” (Rind, McClain) – 4:21
- “Do It” (Rind) – 2:24
- “Let’s Have a War” (Fear) (Bonus Track) – 2:21
*All lyrics written by Phil Rind, music as stated.
**Original drummer Greg Hall left during and was replaced by Dave McClain (who later went on to drum for Machine Head)
Heal (Metal Blade 1996)
- “Blue Suit, Brown Shirt” – 2:27
- “Heal” – 3:43
- “Break Through” – 3:38
- “Low” – 4:03
- “Don’t” – 2:52
- “Jason’s Idea” (Jason Rainey) – 0:40
- “Ask Ed” – 4:07
- “Who Do You Want to Be?” – 2:23
- “Seen Through My Eyes” – 3:19
- “I Don’t Care” – 3:16
- “The Power of the Written Word” – 2:37
- “Beef Balogna” (Bonus Track) – 1:39
*All tracks written by Phil Rind, unless otherwise stated.
**Dave McClain on drums.
Still Ignorant (Metal Blade 1997)
- “American Way” (Wiley Arnett, Rind) – 3:48
- “Administrative Decisions” – 3:40
- “One Nation” (Arnett, Rind) – 2:55
- “Independent” – 3:51
- “State of Emergency” – 5:35
- “The Power of the Written Word” (Arnett, Rind) – 2:51
- “Heal” – 3:48
- “Blue Suit, Brown Shirt” – 2:37
- “Who’s to Blame?” – 3:44
- “Violent Solutions” (Jason Rainey, Rind) – 4:36
- “War Pigs” Black Sabbath) – 7:03
- Originally released on the Paranoid album.
- “Death Squad” – 4:30
- “Surf Nicaragua” – 4:49
*All tracks written by Phil Rind, unless stated otherwise stated.
This album sees the return of original drummer, Greg Hall (after an absence of six years). Dave left to join Machine Head.
The band also contributed the Black Sabbath cover “Sweet Leaf” to the Hempilation: Freedom Is NORML compilation album to help NORML, and the Subhumans cover “The Big Picture” appears as the B-side of the “Open Book” promotional single.
A three disk boxed set with remastered versions of Ignorance and Surf Nicaragua with additional bonus material, including the “Draining You of Life” demo tape and a live DVD, was originally slated for release in September 2005, but was released in Europe only in the summer of 2007 by Metal Blade Records.
A clip of the band’s video for the song “The American Way” is used in the movie Encino Man. The title track from the album “Independent” can be heard in the college football movie The Program.
*Special thanks to SACRED REICH for over two decades of thrashin’! – Kinger
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