Album Review – Awakening by Sacred Reich (Metal Blade Records)

Thrash icons, Sacred Reich, released their brand new album, Awakening on the 23rd of August via Metal Blade Records.

Now with former Machine head drummer, the brilliant Dave McClain, back on drums, Sacred Reich have released their first studio album since 1996’s Heal. Dave was the drummer with Sacred Reich from 1991 until 1995 before heading off to Machine Head for a hugely successful career. Heal was also the last album Dave recorded with Sacred Reich before his departure. Sacred Reich are Phil Rind on bass and vocals, Wiley Arnett on lead guitar, Dave McClain on drums and Joey Radziwill on rhythm guitars.

Awakening

Sacred Reich released a couple singles, a few weeks back, from the new album. The first was the album titled, Awakening. A very good, but not mind-blowing song. You can read our full review of it here. After that we had Manifest Reality. Another good track that lacked something killer to elevate it. Read about that one here.

Awakening is pretty short with 8 tracks weighing in at around 31 minutes long. It’s a strong album, with 8 tracks of hard rocking, thrash. There is a retro feel to the album which is to be expected from a band that have basically been picked up from the late 80’s and 90’s and found themselves awakening now 20 years on. The production has a nice, old school sound to it with the bass and drums really standing out in the mix. Over Sacred Reich’s dormant period they do seem to have slowed down a bit with a lot more groove on show and a little less speed.

There are faster tracks though. The album opener, Awakening comes at you quick and hard as does the second track, Divide and Conquer. It’s got a nice thrashy riff and quick drum rhythm in the verses. Vocals come at you quickly before it all drops into a really cool chorus with a little more groove. There is a wicked solo too. Revolution is another quick blast track with a quick picked riff and fast drum rolls and blasts. The vocals are good, especially in the chorus which is probably the best chorus on the album in regards to getting stuck in your mind. It’s a catchy chorus and a catchy song. One of my favourite on the album.

The second single, Manifest Reality is another quick and hard track but outside of those we drop into more of a groove style. Occasionally getting more into hard rock, or at least close to it. Salvation has an exciting drum intro before a quick but rhythmic riff joins in. The vocals suit the style really well, actually getting your foot tapping through the verses before heading into a simple but solid chorus. Killing Machine again goes for the drum intro playing a military styled marching beat. The song tells the stories of different people at war and their reactions to it. It’s the cleverest track on the album lyrically and has a really strong groove riff running down its spine and one of the best solos on an album full of great solos.

Death Valley really goes for a hard rocking intro. It’s quite far from traditional thrash but is good with a decent riff and strong bass sound. The chorus is very different to anything else on Awakening. While it is a good song, it stands out more for being quite different to everything else on the album. The album closes on Something to Believe which again goes for the super catchy, hard rocking vibe and it works really well. The vocals a stretch a bit further with a lot of higher lines but it’s the guitar and drum combinations that really make the track. The catchy fills and stop start riff are cracking. I love the bass line standing so prominently in the verses too. Chuck in a strong solo too and you have a great song and a great album closer.

Awakening is a really good album even if it is a little different to what I expected. I expected a collection of old school thrash songs, something straight from the 80’s and probably heard a million times before. While Awakening doesn’t feel particularly modern, and it isn’t completely unique, it is fresh enough and varied enough to keep your attention throughout. There is a good mix of styles on show with plenty of the faster, thrashier songs, a handful of hard rocking tracks and a huge dollop of groove too. The drums are mightily impressive and the guitars and bass are on point too.

I wasn’t entirely convinced on the vocals when I listened to the singles but they have grown on me too. They certainly work better on the groovier tracks over the faster tracks. Awakening is a strong album from a band who still have plenty to offer modern rock and metal.

Grab a copy of Awakening now from Metal Blade, here.

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Awakening by Sacred Reich (Metal Blade Records)
  • 8/10
    The Final Score - 8/10
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