So many years after Thrash made its first appearance, it is easy to fall into the trap of believing that most of the innovation in the genre was being done by the Big Four. Giving lie to this perception are Pheonix's SACRED REICH, who, at least with their first few releases, produced some of the most cutting edge Thrash of the 1980's.
Their debut LP, "Ignorance", captures the Punk spirit that was so influential on the early Thrash movement. The main riffing is fast-tempo and without a lot of overt technicality. The vocals are screamed more so than sung, and are belted out so fast that frequently bassist/vocalist Phil Rind had to drop some of the words in order to complete the verses in the time allotted. The drumming is furious, and is on par with anything that Mitch Harris was doing with NAPALM DEATH at roughly the same time.
Lyrically, "Ignorance" adopts many of the activist themes of 1980's Punk. While Thrash titans METALLICA and MEGADETH were taking on social and political topics of the day, SACRED REICH were doing so in a much more direct manner. Opener “Death Squad” is a very pointed criticism of the Central American dictatorships being propped up by the Reagan Administration. The title track expressed its rage at the average Americans' turning of a blind eye toward the actions of their elected officials.
Yet while the hallmarks of 80's Punk permeate this disc, "Ignorance" is still a Metal album. SACRED REICH here, on almost all of the songs, begin with crunchy, mid-tempo intro riffs, before tearing into the breakneck velocity of the main riffing. The soloing is fast, and while not as flashy as some of the more technical bands, still strays from the stripped-down approach taken by Punk.
"Ignorance" is a superior example of 1980's Thrash, and while some of the lyrical topics are a bit distant for many of today's metalheads to have even experienced, the music and passion here are timeless. This one serves as an excellent time capsule, both for the genre and for American history.
(Online January 12, 2009)