I remember back in 1990 when I first saw Sacred Reich live on their “The American Way” tour. It was one of the craziest gigs I’d ever been to. Fans were climbing the speakers and throwing themselves off, the pit was almost a no-go area, it was quite an intimidating yet exhilarating experience. This was the pre-mobile phone days when there was nothing else to do at a gig but get drunk and have a good time. Live these guys were as good as any band I’d ever seen so I was looking forward to seeing them again tonight to see if they had the same magic that they did all those years ago. The Arizona based thrashers recently released “Awakening”, an incredible return to form, after a break of 23 years from their previous album (see my review here). If they are as strong live as they are in this recording I don’t think I’ll have anything to worry about.
It’s a 3 band bill tonight and kicking off the show is Scotland’s own Catalysis. The guys play a set of old school sounding thrashy death metal. I’ve always been more a fan of the likes of Obituary than some of the overly technical modern death metal bands so these guys were right up my street. I really enjoy their straight ahead, brutal, no bullshit approach to riff and song writing. “Nothing Left” (here) is an awesome opening track and for me it’s also an introduction to a band I haven’t come across before. The songs are filled with good solid head-banging riffs that ensure the crowd keep nodding along. I’m sure they won over quite a few fans tonight. Definitely a band to keep an eye on and I hope to catch them again in the future.
Up next is some traditional old-school heavy metal in the form of the Californian trio Night Demon. The band are no stranger to Europe and have played several festivals in the past including Wacken Open Air and Bang Your Head. They also managed a support slot with the mighty Accept last year. They played Glasgow back in 2017 too so there’s quite a few here tonight that have seen the band before, but for me this will be the first time. Their music takes me straight back to the 80’s as does their look. Jarvis (bass/singer) and Armand (guitars) both sport flying V’s and even though there’s only 3 musicians on stage their sound is huge. It’s also loud. Even with ear plugs in I can still feel the volume battering against my ear drums. Their music reminds me very much of Paul Di’Anno era Iron Maiden with a bit of Motorhead thrown in for good measure. They even play a snippet of Motorhead’s Overkill during the set. To further the Iron Maiden comparison they have a death like character come onto the stage complete with skull mask and cowl holding a chalice. It brings immediately to mind Eddie from the early days of Maiden where they just had a guy in a mask. There’s no chatting between songs until Jarvis introduces “Screams in the Night” near the end of the set which gets a small pit going in the middle of the venue. The energetic set is finished off with their self-titled track “Night Demon”. Great set of 80’s inspired tracks. Good stuff.
While much is made of “The Big Four” (i.e. Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, and Anthrax) there were so many other great thrash bands around in 80’s and 90’s. Nuclear Assault, Testament, Exodus, Overkill, Kreator, Sabbat, Onslaught, Annihilator…the list is endless. Of course Sacred Reich also featured heavily on my play-lists as a teen. Even though the crowd might have aged a bit, there’s no sign of white basketball boots any more, and we’re all probably a bit more sober, the sense of excitement for one of most influential bands of the genre is still there.
When the Sacred Reich hit the stage and play the likes of “The American Way”, “One Nation”, “Love…Hate”, “Who’s to Blame” and a whole host of other classic tracks it takes me right back to the height of thrash. Their version of “Crimes Against Humanity” actually gave me goosebumps, a phenomenal version, and I couldn’t help but smile all the way through it, as did singer Phil. He might have been doing this for a long time but the frontman clearly still enjoys playing and smiles and chats to the audience throughout the set. It’s great to see guitarist Wiley Arnett again too grooving along to his chunky thrash laden riffs. Newest member, also on guitar, is Joey Radziwill. I found a web page saying that he was born in 1996. He might not have been around when the bulk of Sacred Reich’s albums were released but he obviously loves the music. Our photographer struggled to get some nice pictures of him as he was always moving around and moshing away. The material from the new album fits in perfectly with the older tracks. Songs like “Manifest Reality” sound incredible and are right up there with their older numbers. The highlight for me tonight was probably “Death Squad” taken from 1987’s “Ignorance” album. That song alone was worth the ticket price but there wasn’t a weak song in the whole set. Fantastic night from a band that have been away far too long. I wish I could rewind and go back and watch it all over again. Awesome.
Review – Martin Patterson
Images – Lara Vischi